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Buttermilk and vanilla cake with raspberries

A made-for-picnics cake.

By Emma Knowles & Lisa Featherby
  • 40 mins preparation
  • 50 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 10
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Buttermilk and vanilla cake with raspberries
This vanilla frosting is very stable, so you can ice the cake before you transport it. The frosting will be soft in warm weather and firmer in cool weather. The cake is best eaten on the day of making.


  • 250 gm softened butter
  • 330 gm caster sugar (1½ cups)
  • 3 eggs
  • Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 300 gm plain flour, sieved
  • 150 gm self-raising flour, sieved (1 cup)
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda, sieved
  • 350 ml buttermilk
  • 500 gm raspberries, to serve (about 4 punnets)
Vanilla frosting
  • 3 eggwhites, at room temperature
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 260 gm caster sugar
  • Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 300 gm softened butter (see note)


  • 1
    Preheat oven to 160C. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla seeds and lemon rind. Meanwhile, sieve flours and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl with a pinch of salt. With mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk. Repeat, then spoon mixture into a buttered 22cm x 32cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Smooth top, then bake until cake is golden and an inserted skewer withdraws clean (35-45 minutes). Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack and cool completely.
  • 2
    For vanilla frosting, combine eggwhite and cream of tartar in an electric mixer and whisk until frothy. Meanwhile, bring 240gm caster sugar and 120ml water to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, then gradually add remaining sugar to eggwhite and whisk on medium speed until soft glossy peaks form. Continue cooking syrup to soft ball stage (115C; 4-8 minutes). Remove from heat, then gradually add hot syrup to whites, whisking continuously on medium-high speed. Add vanilla seeds and whisk until cool and glossy (10-20 minutes). Gradually add butter a little at a time, whisking continuously until incorporated and smooth (see note).
  • 3
    Spread frosting over cake, scatter with raspberries and serve.


Note For a whiter frosting, use a European-style butter with a pale colour. It's important the meringue is completely cooled before the butter is added; otherwise, the butter will melt. If the mixture is too cold, it may look curdled; if this happens, continue beating the mixture until it is smooth.
Drink Suggestion: Perfumed pink moscato.