Presentation aside, the recipe was compelling. I made it and served it as a slice of cake, and also as a little parfait. The three recipes are all very simple and the flavors work really well together. I was especially excited about the gin-poached cherries, which are just lovely. I had some on yogurt the next morning and they made me very happy. The sour milk jam is also great (we used the extra as a dip for strawberries), as is the cake. I am realizing that sometimes cakes are too moist for me, and this one approaches that territory. I must be in a minority here, since moist cakes seem highly valued in our culture. In any case, this is a nice recipe to have on hand as we look toward winter.
Buttermilk Cake with Sour Milk Jam and Gin-Poached Cherries (from Bon Appetit)
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
Sour milk jam:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup crème fraîche
Gin-poached cherries and assembly:
- 1 cup dried tart cherries
- 1 cup gin
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons juniper berries
- Fennel fronds (for serving, optional)
- Special equipment: A 9″-diameter cake pan
For buttermilk cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour pan. Whisk baking soda, salt, and 2 cups flour in a medium bowl; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and 1 1/4 cups butter in another medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and scraping down sides of bowl.
Reduce mixer speed to low and, with motor running, add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
Bake until cake is golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool before turning out.
DO AHEAD: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
For sour milk jam:
Bring milk and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar; reduce heat and simmer gently, whisking occasionally, until mixture measures a scant 1/4 cup, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; let cool (it will thicken as it sits). Whisk in crème fraîche, cover, and chill.
DO AHEAD: Jam can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
For gin-poached cherries and assembly:
Bring cherries, gin, sugar, juniper berries, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat and simmer until liquid is syrupy, 6-8 minutes. Let cool.
Spoon a few dollops of jam onto plates. Tear cake into pieces and arrange around jam. Top with cherries and fennel fronds.
DO AHEAD: Cherries can be poached 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Dan from Platter Talk says:
October 9th, 2013 at 11:29 am
Very little is as appealing to me as a slice of cake, and this one would be almost impossible for me to resist. I grew up dunking, eating, and loving cake in almost every imaginable form and yes, cake is a part of our culture. The accompaniments of gin-soaked cherries and sour milk jam firmly plant this specimen in only one position – over the top. Nice job in sharing this one!!
October 9th, 2013 at 12:57 pm
This post cracked me up. I think your presentation looked way better. I feel more and more like BA and I are living on different planets.
October 9th, 2013 at 1:23 pm
Haha! I laughed out loud at the “first-class tool” part. (And I agree with you – you definitely chose the better route with that one.)
And I have to say, you pick such good recipes. This one is simple enough, but I think that sour milk jam and those gin-poached cherries sound perfect with that buttermilk cake. Looks as good (or better – in the case of that picture you linked to) than a restaurant. You must host pretty damn spectacular dinner parties!
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:
October 9th, 2013 at 2:37 pm
This is wonderfully unique! Love that jam :)
Vinnie @ Jarhead says:
October 9th, 2013 at 7:25 pm
The sour milk jam sounds really intriguing, and a really interesting accompaniment to the cake and cherries. Great recipe! Thanks
October 10th, 2013 at 1:46 am
That is a lot of butter so I imagine it would be super moist and delicious. The sour milk jam and gin poached cherries are pure poetry though.
October 10th, 2013 at 6:03 am
Simple cakes like these are my absolutely favorite. I usually top them with a little bit of yogurt and eat them for breakfast. The sour milk jam sounds even better, of course.
October 10th, 2013 at 6:42 am
You made me laugh again. If someone served me the torn cake, I’d feel like I was getting the leftovers, but the recipe sounds delicious.
October 10th, 2013 at 8:48 am
I was just cleaning out our cabinets the other day and discovered a jar of juniper berries that I don’t remember ever buying. I’d been wondering what the heck to do with it, and now I know…gin poached cherries! Genius.
October 10th, 2013 at 9:45 am
“first-class tool” has got to be one of my favorite blog lines ever. it’s funny: this cake held no appeal for me when I saw it in the magazine, probably because it was in stupid bits. this post, however, makes it look wonderful!
October 11th, 2013 at 8:58 am
October 12th, 2013 at 10:54 am
Brandied cherries have long been a staple in our house, but I am very intrigued by the concept of the gin soak. I imagine it would be a lighter, cleaner taste and love the idea of pairing it with a rustic, buttery cake like this (sans the froo froo torn presentation :) ).
October 14th, 2013 at 8:06 am
Haha! I feel the same about the moist cake issue. Love the first photo :)
October 14th, 2013 at 8:30 am
BA’s torn up version is completely unapealing to me. If presentation is such a big deal, what’s with the wispy fennel fronds? The L+D version in a solid wedge minus the stunt has my attention.
Jeffrey C says:
October 14th, 2013 at 8:22 pm
If you really loved us, you’d tear up our cake :)
Jeff @ Cheese-burger.net says:
October 15th, 2013 at 4:09 am
You’re right, this recipe is really amazing!
Janine at Rustic Kitchen says:
October 16th, 2013 at 7:02 pm
Tim, I am completely with you on Excellent Women and Nigel Slater. A London friend gave me his Really Fast Puddings and it’s and I still thumb through for simple dessert ideas.
October 20th, 2013 at 2:57 pm
What a great post! Also, is it just me or does the BA portion looks really measly? Much prefer a good wedge of cake and I love the sound of both the gin cherries and the milk jam, yum!
November 3rd, 2013 at 11:43 am
Just made this for Sunday lunch. Partner described it as a ‘hug in a bowl’. A perfect marriage of textures and tastes. Also made the spinach salad and aubergine dip, so it’s been a Lottie & Doof day – all to great acclaim – thank you!!
November 4th, 2013 at 4:39 pm
Torn yet contained- the perfect compromise.
November 6th, 2013 at 8:45 am
This cake looks simply delicious! I’m a huge fan of moist and simple to bake cakes. this is a winner!
July 9th, 2015 at 9:19 am
Hi Tim–I just made the cake part of this (I cannot ignore that much butter), but mine took a good 55 minutes to bake (in a 8″ glass square pan). Curious how long yours took? This is one of my favorite cakes in a while–inlay use it as the base for the caramel cake recipe (which is a regular for us).