Whole Grain Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
A simple and delicious strawberry buttermilk cake studded with sweet strawberries and topped with fluffy whipped cream and more syrupy, macerated berries. This everyday buttermilk cake is made with whole grain flour, comes together quickly, and is the quintessential spring or summer treat! Gluten free and egg free friendly.
Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
I picked those strawberries – whose nubbly, irregular appearance far belies their superior, sweet flavor – from our backyard garden boxes, weeks ago now, and baked this simple strawberry buttermilk cake as a special treat before my husband left for another deployment.
The night before he left, we sat out back in our adirondack chairs under the patio umbrella as it gently rained around us. It was still warm and the air was thick, in that humid, Summer-y way I mostly remember from living in the South.
We drank wine and ate cake, and lingered in the golden evening light, staying there longer than we normally might, soaking up the evening and each other’s company, and not wanting the day to end. The next morning, I dropped him off on post, then stopped at the market to buy a few bunches of bright, golden sunflowers, to keep things cheerful in his absence.
And I baked another cake.
Let’s talk about cake!
This strawberry buttermilk cake is a quintessential Summer cake. An everyday sort of cake.
Well, if your day happens to include butter and sugar, and those are always the very best days.
This cake is adapted from an old Gourmet magazine recipe, found long ago by way of Smitten Kitchen, and remains a lasting favorite. The kind of cake easily adapted to each season, that I find myself baking versions of over and over again.
The batter comes together quickly, the baking time is short, and the recipe includes simple ingredients you probably already have on hand, save for maybe the buttermilk, which you can fake in a pinch.
The cake base is moist and tender-crumbed (despite being composed entirely of whole grain spelt and almond flours), is studded with berries, and packed with a ton of flavor. The strawberries sink gently into the batter, and the cake emerges from the oven gently risen, with cheerful, sweet berry dimples.
It doesn’t need it, but a generous “frosting” of fresh whipped cream along with a vibrant pile of quick-macerated strawberries on top makes the whole affair a bit fancier, and gives off a celebratory vibe (instead of the leftover cake-for-breakfast scenario that happened in real life).
Strawberry buttermilk cake ingredients:
While this strawberry cake is pretty basic as far as from-scratch cakes go, it emerges from the oven full of flavor and anything but boring thanks to a handful of tasty ingredients. If you bake often, I’m guessing you have most of these in your pantry right now. Here’s what to put on your list:
- strawberries: of course! Super sweet, in season berries make this simple cake sing.
- flour: I love to use whole grain spelt flour, which adds a great depth and nuttiness. You can use regular all-purpose flour or a gluten free flour blend as well. See my recipe notes!
- almond flour: for a nutty flavor and a tender crumb.
- baking powder and soda: adds just the right amount of lift.
- salt: intensifies all the other ingredients (I typically use Diamond Crystal).
- butter: for the best flavor, we’ll start by creaming softened unsalted butter.
- sugar: granulated sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness, and some sparkle on top.
- vanilla and almond extract: for a sweet and classic flavor boost.
- egg: you’ll need just one egg (you can also use a flax egg, see notes).
- buttermilk: thick and creamy buttermilk adds a lovely tang and helps create a soft and tender cake.
- whipped cream and macerated berries: for serving. Though a plain cake is just as lovely too!
Find all the exact measurements and recipe instructions below.
No Buttermilk? Here’s how to make your own:
Real buttermilk has a texture and flavor that can’t exactly be replicated, and if it’s easily accessible to you, I would recommend using it here. That being said, it is possible to fake it.
Simply combine 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup whole milk. Let sit for 10 mins until it begins to curdle. Give it a stir, and add to the cake batter, and voila! You can also use an unsweetened plain yogurt or sour cream thinned with a little milk, which will give you that familiar tang.
As a side note, buttermilk can easily be frozen, so any leftovers can be put to good use the next time a recipe calls for a smaller amount!
How to make a simple cake with fresh strawberries
This fresh strawberry cake comes together quickly with simple techniques. Here’s what to do:
- Start by preheating your oven and gather all your ingredients. Prep your cake pan (I love this one because it bakes evenly and is so easy to remove).
- Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
- With a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, before mixing in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Add the buttermilk and dry ingredients in alternating batches until your cake batter comes together.
- Top with fresh strawberries and a generous sprinkle of sugar. Bake the cake until gently puffed and golden.
- Once cooled, either serve simply or top with fresh whipped cream and more berries. Enjoy!!
Note: the baking temperature at 400℉ is warmer than typical for cake baking, so it’s important to make sure your oven isn’t running too hot. An oven thermometer is great for this!
A cake for every season
This simple strawberry buttermilk cake is not only a breeze to make, but easily adaptable and forgiving, whether you want to go gluten free, egg free, or with different fresh fruit.
If almond flour/meal is not something you keep in your pantry, feel free to use entirely spelt flour (or all-purpose) – but know that the almonds do add a nutty, flavorful element that I think is welcome here. I always keep a bag in the freezer for recipes like this, just in case.
Supposing strawberries are out of season where you are, as they’re close to being here in the Pacific Northwest, I’m confident that just about any Summer berry would work here – blueberries or raspberries especially – and slices of fresh peaches or plums would also be lovely. And I’ll definitely be trying apples in the Fall… Happy baking!!
Strawberry Buttermilk Cake FAQs
Spelt flour is a type of whole wheat flour that is milled with the entire grain. It bakes very similarly to conventional whole wheat flour, but has a nuttier flavor and a bit more dimension. I typically use Arrowhead Mills.
In the U.S., almond flour is typically made from ground blanched (skinned) almonds, while almond meal is made from ground whole (skin-on) almonds. Almond flour has a finer texture, which is often better for baking, and what I’d recommend here.
Once cooled, store the unfrosted cake in an airtight container at room-temperature for the first day, or 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
More strawberry recipes to bake next:
- A strawberry almond tart
- Strawberry jam crumb bars
- Lattice top strawberry pie
- A simple strawberry rhubarb crisp
If you make this strawberry buttermilk cake, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it! Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, LauraPrint
A simple and delicious strawberry buttermilk cake studded with sweet strawberries and topped with fluffy whipped cream and more syrupy, macerated berries. This everyday buttermilk cake is made with whole grain flour, comes together quickly and is the quintessential spring or summer treat! Gluten free and egg free friendly.
for the strawberry buttermilk cake
- 1 cup (140g) whole grain spelt flour ¹
- 1/4 cup (28g) fine almond flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
- 4 Tbsp (57g or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room-temperature
- 2/3 cup (132g) + 1 Tbsp (13g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
- 1 large egg ²
- 1/2 cup (120g) buttermilk, well-shaken
- 1 cup (125g) strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
- 2 cups fresh whipped cream
- 1 cup (125g) strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
- 1 Tbsp (13g) granulated sugar, or to taste
for the strawberry buttermilk cake
- Preheat the oven to 400℉. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or line with a parchment paper round. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a standup mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and 2/3 cup sugar on medium-high speed until lightened and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract, followed by the egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until smooth and completely combined.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed, and alternate adding the buttermilk and flour mixture in three batches. Mix until the flour is mostly combined, then switch to a spatula and mix by hand until no streaks of flour remain.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly from edge to edge. Arrange the chopped strawberries in an even layer on top, cut side down, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until just golden brown, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the chopped strawberries and sugar. Let sit for 20 or so minutes, until the strawberries have released some juice, and are syrupy and fragrant.
- When the cake has cooled, spread on a thick layer of whipped cream, then top with the macerated strawberries and syrup. Slice and serve immediately.
- Alternatively, serve the whipped cream and strawberries alongside the cake. Enjoy!
¹ Spelt flour can be found online and in well-stocked grocery stores. Conventional all-purpose flour will also work. For a gluten free cake, replace the flour with equal parts of a gluten free all-purpose flour blend. I use (148g) of this one from Bob’s Red Mill with great results.
² For an egg-free cake: replace the egg with a flax egg. Combine 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed with 2.5 Tbsp room-temperature water and let sit for 5 minutes until thickened.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine.
Keywords: strawberry buttermilk cake, almond flour, everyday cake, fresh strawberry cake, easy baking, summer cake, macerated strawberries, gluten free
Originally published August 2, 2016