Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

I’ll admit, with all the travel to share Pimento Cheese The Cookbook I did in the fall, I got a little behind on recipe planning. So I’ve had a bit of a scramble to get myself organized, get things tested and photographed and out on the blog. When I started thinking about Valentine’s Day, I racked my brain to come up with something decadent, romantic, creative and over the top. But the ideas just weren’t coming. So I stepped back and said to myself, just think of something really chocolatey. And this was the first recipe that came to mind. The starting point for this is written on piece of lined notebook paper, in a much younger version of my handwriting. I must of copied it out of a cookbook or from somebody, maybe when I was a teenager. I know it was a staple of my repertoire for awhile, but I was surprised that my mind brought it out when I needed to think of chocolate. I mean, that’s going back aways! I’ve updated the recipe a bit, streamlining it and making the frosting a touch easier to work with, but this is just plain, old fashioned good.

I made this again for friends and one immediately asked for the recipe, because it was just like something here grandmother used to make, so I knew I’d hit on the right recipe for Valentine’s. Because showing someone you care isn’t just about fancy frippery and gimmicks, it’s about good old fashioned love and kindness, and this cake just shouts that out.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Serves 12
For the Cake
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  6. 1 cup water
  7. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  8. ½ cup buttermilk
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Frosting
  1. ¼ cup (half of a stick) of butter
  2. 4 Tablespoons buttermilk
  3. 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the butter, water and cocoa powder in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. With the mixer running, pour the hot chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Add the buttermilk, then the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25- 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
For the frosting
  1. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, bring the butter, cocoa and buttermilk to a boil in a pan (you can use the same one used earlier). Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.
  2. Pour the warm frosting over the still warm cake, tilting the pan to cover the cake evenly, and leave to cool.
The Runaway Spoon

2 comments to Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

  • nance

    Hi, PC. Love your site. Could you explain why in this chocolate buttermilk cake it calls for baking powder rather than baking soda? Generally recipes with buttermilk seem to use baking soda. What is the difference, I wonder.

  • Most recipes with buttermilk use baking soda because it reacts with the acid in buttermilk to act as a leavener. This is an old recipe I have been making for years, and I don’t know why it uses powder instead of soda – but it does produce a moist and lovely cake!

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