Friday, April 16, 2021

Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping

Leftover buttermilk is a predicament I think most bakers find themselves in from time to time. It’s usually sold in quart containers, and typically, you only need a cup or less for a recipe. So what to do with the remainder? This is where I found myself earlier this week, after having realized I had an open bottle of buttermilk in the fridge with an approaching expiration date and no immediate plans to use it (see tip at end about freezing buttermilk).

After much Googling, I found this recipe that sounded terrific. Of course, it helped that I had all the ingredients in the house. This cake from The Cafe Sucre Farine web site was adapted from a King Arthur recipe, and it is a hit! It reminded me of the luscious, addictive pralines I enjoyed on my first trip to New Orleans, only in cake form. It’s got everything (IMHO) a cake should be: moist (because buttermilk), flavorful (of course!), a little bit crunchy (thanks to the pecan streusel), and easy! It’s a one-bowl wonder (well, two, if you count the streusel mixture) and no mixer required (although I do think the initial mixing of the butter and brown sugar would be easier with a hand or stand mixer). For the streusel, I used the incredible pecans from The Peach Truck - what a revelation really fresh pecans are. Raw and natural, these pecans are everything you imagine a Georgia pecan to be.

This cake is the perfect after-dinner accompaniment to a pot of coffee. A bit too sweet, I think, for a breakfast treat, but you may feel differently.  I thoroughly enjoyed a piece last night and it took all my restraint not to go back for another slice. Now my only problem is, what do I do with the rest of it? I hope it freezes well!

Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping



1/4 C butter, very soft

1 C light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 C buttermilk

1 t vanilla extract

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1-1/2 C all-purpose flour


3 TB melted butter

1/2 C light brown sugar, packed

2 TB half & half

1/8 t salt

3/4 C diced pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9” round cake pan (with at least 2” tall sides) with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine the butter and brown sugar and stir until smooth.
  3. Add the egg, beating again until smooth.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
  5. Sprinkle the flour, baking soda, and salt evenly over the top and stir until well combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake the cake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and/or the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center.
  8. During the last 10 minutes of baking time, prepare the topping. Stir the butter and the sugar together. Add the milk, pecans, and salt. The glaze will be thick, but pourable (don’t let this sit too long, or it will become too thick to pour).
  9. After the cake has baked for 30 minutes, pour the topping over the cake and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes (for a total baking time of 40 minutes). Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the pan. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt, if desired, and serve warm or at room temp. Topping will firm up as the cake cools.
  10. Cake can be served in the pan or on a serving platter/cake stand. To serve on a platter, invert cake onto a dinner plate, then invert again so the topping is right-side up. 
PS: I found a great way to freeze leftover buttermilk here!. I’ve got an ice cube tray cooling in my freezer right now.