Classic Cake Day: Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Black Currant Whipped Cream


[Classic Cake Day revisits some of our favorite cakes from the first year or so, before the blog. We made this cake for Valentine’s Day 2018.]

Jordan: This cake was delicious. Kitra also broke a chair taking pictures of it.

Kitra: I forgot that a screw was loose and wanted to get this cake from all the angles because it’s. just. so. pretty.

When we were in New York to see a musical a while back (Come From Away, go see it, it’s amazing), we stopped by Kalustyan’s to browse the truly absurd amount of spices, herbs, and miscellaneous flavorings they have there.

We picked up a couple of things, but the first one to see use was the black currant juice powder, because it is truly the most remarkable color and tastes great.

Plus it’s the king of berries!

Or so they said. I buy it.

Literally. We bought it. And it was delicious—bright and fruity, and when folded into whipped cream made a delightful replacement for the heavy buttercream you might expect from a Valentine’s Day cake.

While we’d hoped it would stay hot pink in the cream, it turned into a lovely shade of purple and we’re not mad about it.

We paired it here with a vanilla buttermilk cake, which was moist and dense in the best senses of both of those words.

When we looked back to write this post, the first though both of us had was “my coworkers loved this cake,” so it’s clearly also a crowd-pleaser. Which is good, because this makes a lot of cake.

You could easily scale down the recipe and do this as a single layer cake with a thick layer of frosting and it would be a great afternoon snack… But if you make the full thing, we don’t think your coworkers will mind.


Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Black Currant Whipped Cream

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Sky High


We recognize that black currant juice powder is kind of a niche product, so don’t feel obliged to track it down. This cake would also pair well with any fruit whipped cream made with freeze-dried berries, like the blueberry one we made over the summer. Strawberries or raspberries would be nice and festive for Valentine’s Day.

Since this is a whipped cream topping, be sure to keep the cake in the fridge once frosted.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake


3 3/4 cups (450g) cake flour
2 1/2 cups (500g) sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk (divided)
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325°. Butter three 8- or 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

Combine dry ingredients, including sugar, in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and 1¼ cup buttermilk and beat on low until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and remaining ⅓ cup buttermilk. In three additions, fold the egg mixture into the rest of the batter.

Divide batter into pans; there should be about 3 cups of batter per pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out free of batter. Allow to cool fully before frosting with black currant whipped cream between each layer and on top. If desired, dust top of frosted cake with additional black currant powder.

Black Currant Whipped Cream


2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
black currant powder, to taste


Using an electric mixer, whip cream and sugar together until thick and fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to fold in black currant powder, tasting as you go, until the flavor is to your liking.

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