magic cake ride December 19, 2005


Being a transplant in the South, there are a few rules about food and cooking that you learn pretty quickly:

1) If it ain’t got bacon or lard in it, it ain’t good.

2) Said bacon and/or lard should be sopped up with heavy duty carbohydrates at every meal.

3) We use Crisco.

I have to admit…until I made this recipe, I had never cooked with Crisco. If that makes me a bad Southerner, so be it. I don’t even know what Crisco *is*. I just know that I make fake ice cream out of it for photo shoots – the butter flavored kind makes killer french vanilla ice cream.

So when my friend Magic Fred (don’t ask) asked me if I could bake him this buttermilk cake he’d been talking about, I said sure. I also started having some trepidation because of Rule #4, which is…

4) No one in the South writes down a recipe – you’ll have to call mom’n’em to get it.

This cake really, to me, exemplifies all things Southern. Its a carb gut bomb that’s sweet enough to be dessert washed down with a glass of buttermilk…and its savory enough to be breakfast washed down with a glass of buttermilk.

Maybe I’m a better Southerner than I think…’cuz this cake is really darned good.

Buttermilk Cake – recipe copied directly as dictated by mom’n’em

3 cups flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 cup Crisco

1 tsp. salt

Mix the above together. Cut in the Crisco using two butter knives until the mixture is about the size of peas. Take 2 handfuls (squeeze it together) and set aside on plate – these two handfuls will be what makes the crumb topping.

Next add –

3 eggs

1 cup buttermilk with 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp cream of tartar added to the buttermilk

Stir the buttermilk mixture until the buttermilk starts foaming. I do it over the bowl and it usually foams over then I pour it into the flour mixture. Stir until moistened. It will have lumps – it is not to be a smooth batter.

Pour into 2 9" cake pans. Take the handful of crumbs and scatter over each cake. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes. It was have a nice golden color. The crumb topping will of course stay white.

Added information: I stir the buttermilk mixture hitting the bottom of the measuring cup with the spoon. As it starts to foam, it gets a different sound as you’re stirring. That’s how I know when its about ready.Be sure to use Crisco and not butter or margarine. Good luck!


Alicat Dec 20, 2005 09:12 am

wooo I like the sound of this cake. ;) Looks very tasty.

tami Dec 20, 2005 10:12 am

its quite good. it reminds me of what a yogurt cake or something similar would be like. i like the fact that its not overly sweet. the crisco still weirds me out, though :)

Paige Dec 21, 2005 10:12 am

I have no problem with the Crisco. But did you say you would have this while drinking buttermilk? Is that a Southern rule, too?

tami Dec 25, 2005 09:12 am

Buttermilk – plain or seasoned with salt and pepper – is a Southern institution. If you’re eating cake for breakfast, why not wash it down with something equally as rich, right? :)
I think it actually would be a good coating while eating this cake…

Rachael Dec 26, 2005 10:12 am

I love me the crisco, saves my pie crusts from tasting like lard (the only other option Ive ever found for a super flaky crust and not an appetizing one to me)
Is it true Southerners dont write down recipes? I LOVE that, its like an oral tradition in action. So wonderful!
Thanks for the great post!

tami Dec 26, 2005 10:12 am

It certainly seems that way. It may be a generational thing, though, too. Now that us youngins have all these cookbooks, a lot of us wouldnt dream of just “winging it” when it comes to a recipe. Whatever the reason, there is a lot of “mom-n-em” when it comes to recipes around here.
thanks for stopping by :)

Brandon Dec 29, 2005 06:12 am

Speaking of good Southern recipes…
When I went home for Christmas, Lisa and I stayed in the house that was once my grandparents’. I love the place: not only is it right on a decent sized creek, it’s just got a lot of great memories for me. And many of those involve my grandmother (Nana) cooking all sorts of amazing dishes and desserts. Let’s just say I was spoiled on good food for most of my childhood.
Anyway, where I was going with this is: we went snooping around the house…which I always do…and found, not only a lot of her old cook books (and I mean OLD!) but we found an old notebook that was literally FULL of hand written recipes! It was awesome! The funny thing to, is that on some of them, there is just a list of ingredients…and that’s it. Apparently she knew all the preparation steps…just needed to log the ingredients and their proportions.
So, what suck is that I forgot to grab the damn thing and bring it home with me like I said I was going to. Not only is it just cool to see all this stuff written by Nana…but I wanted to catalog all of these recipes in the computer so the notebook could be preserved and I could share a lot of the recipes with friends and family members, etc. Shit, I might have to release a cook book! lol
Anyway, I hadn’t intended to ramble this much…but I had to get the back story in…