A man once told me, “There is no word quite as lovely as buttermilk … it conjures up such warm and lovely feelings.”
As many of us discovered at an early age, buttermilk’s taste does not live up to that soft and sweet name. Instead, it tastes quite sour and will always remind me of the assisted-living home I worked at in high school (the residents ordered it with pepper sprinkled on top!).
This cake is not sour in the least. Instead, I believe the buttermilk adds a moisture and slight tang to balance the sweetness.
Adding lime zest, allspice, ginger, black pepper and ground star anise (which you’ll have to grind yourself) makes it just delightful, especially paired with a simple pear compote made with Boscs, sugar and lime juice.
The recipe recommended a dollop of creme fraiche on top, but I think it is fine without it. My only real complaint is that I don’t have a 1/8 tsp measure, so I don’t think I added enough of the spices and they were overwhelmed by the vanilla beans. Still quite tasty, I just recommend not skimping on the spices.
This recipe comes to you from Bon Appetit…
Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote
For pear compote —
- 2 T sugar
- 1 T fresh lime juice
- Large pinch of salt
- 3 Bosc pears, peeled, quartered and cut into cubes
Mix sugar, lime and salt in heavy saucepan. Add pears and toss to coat. Cover and cook over medium-low until pears are just tender, 10-12 min. Transfer to bowl and set aside.
For spice cake —
- 1 c. plus 1 T flour
- 1/4 c. cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground whole star anise (or anise seeds)
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 three-inch piece of vanilla bean, split
- 1/4 tsp grated lime zest
- 3/4 c. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 9-inch cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
Sift first nine ingredients into medium bowl. Set aside. In large bowl or Kitchenaid, beat butter until fluffy, then add sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add lime peel. Beat to blend. Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, in four additions. Scrape down bowl and mix thoroughly. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until browned on top and a tester comes out clean, approx. 30 min. Cool completely on wire rack.
Slide knife around edges to loosen, then invert on rack, peel parchment off and invert onto serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar.
To serve, slice a big piece of the moist cake and spoon pears on the side. Top with creme fraiche, although I think I prefer it without.
Num. Enjoy, friends! xoxo