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Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake

A rustic, homey, heartwarming cake.

Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake is just the sort of old-fashioned cake that your grandma might have relied on, but its simple brown sugar flavor and irresistibly sweet crunchy pecan topping cement its place in the modern day kitchen as well. It’s a simple-to-make rustic cake with a praline-like topping that gets you out of dealing with frosting but won’t have you missing it one bit.

It’s a from-scratch endeavor that even the most beginning of bakers can handle, even though it looks a little more complicated. But rest assured, it’s not. You just cream together brown sugar and butter – brown sugar is the only sugar used here – and then mix in eggs, vanilla, flour… you know, the usual. Buttermilk lends a really moist bite to the cake itself, a cake which is on the less-sweet side of things to compensate for the sticky-sweet topping.

You bake the cake first, and while it’s in the oven turn to your stovetop to bubble up some butter, brown sugar, milk, and pecans into a thick and sticky (but pourable) glaze.

That gets poured over the whole cake and then it heads back into the oven just long enough to set. You can slice and serve right away if you prefer a runnier topping, but if you let the cake cool a while you’ll end up with something closer to a praline texture.

While the topping on its own would be enough to make your teeth hurt, the basic brown sugar cake below it balances out the sweetness perfectly. It’s the kind of cake that’s as perfect for company as it is for a run-of-the-mill family dessert. Totally homey and heartwarming.

Serves 12

15m prep time

45m cook time

Rated 4.4 out of 5
Rated by 15 reviewers
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
For the topping:
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, diced
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter or nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and beat again until smooth.
  3. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla, followed by the baking soda, salt, and flour. Beat until well mixed.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until top feels set, 30-35 minutes.
  5. While cake bakes, prepare the topping:
  6. Stir together the melted butter and sugar. Add milk, salt, and pecans. The mixture will be thick but still pourable.
  7. Pour glaze over cake and gently spread out into an even layer. Return to oven for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove cake from oven. Topping will be very runny, but you can let it sit at room temperature for a few hours if you'd prefer glaze to be more set. Enjoy!

Recipe from King Arthur Baking.

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