Buttermilk Sheet Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

I’m crazy about buttermilk.  I make pancakes and biscuit with it.  I soak chicken in it before frying it.  I use it in salad dressings, soups and dips.  And always in baked goods.  Buttermilk gives cakes, pies and cookies a level of tenderness that no other ingredient can, not to mention the tell-tale tang we all enjoy.  Even so, poor buttermilk is hugely misunderstood.  Just because part of its name involves the word “butter” does not necessarily mean it’s bad for you.  Buttermilk is lower in fat and calories than whole milk.  It’s heavier and thicker than milk due to the addition of lactic acid, which, by the way, I just read lactic acid is fabulous for fighting crepey skin, see my underarm.  A glass of buttermilk contains about one-quarter the amount of fat in the same glass of milk and about two-thirds the number of calories.  And due to its being fermented or “clabbered”, buttermilk aids in digestion and, with regular consumption, helps in avoiding irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, stomach infections and even colon cancer much like yoghurt drinks.  That’s what makes it important to find a full-fat buttermilk hopefully, from a small dairy.  So now that we’ve cleared buttermilk’s sullied name, let’s move on to this cake.  Moist and unbelievably tender, this cake is a snap.  And because it is typically baked in a jelly roll pan, the thin cake bakes up in no time at all.  There appears to be no issues with inadvertently over mixing it as it consistently comes out light and almost delicate.  But don’t be fooled into thinking this cake is a prima donna.  No, ma’am.  This cake travels beautifully to bake sales, potlucks, book clubs, church suppers, coffee club, you name it.  Un-iced, this buttermilk sheet cake can be served with only a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar and hold still its head up high.  I have to add, though, this icing…well, let’s just say you’ll want to eat it straight out of the pot.  Once again, I COULD NOT control myself.  Smh.  With a warm, almost toffee flavor, this icing hums with notes of brown sugar and butter and completely quashes that nasty, metallic taste powdered sugar often gives icing and glazes.  It is truly a magnificent guilty pleasure on its own.  The cake may be baked in a 9X13X2 inch baking pan, a 10X15X2 inch baking pan or, for a much thinner cake, 2 9X12X1 inch jelly roll sheets, also known as “quarter sheets”.  Which ever size pan you decide to use, I promise this cake will be the best after-school snack ever!

Buttermilk Sheet Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

  • Servings: 12-16 baked in 9X13 pan or 18-20 baked in 10X15 pan
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup canola  or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup full fat buttermilk
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • 1 packed cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Grease with shortening a 9X13 inch baking pan or 10X15 inch baking pan.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour and sugar well and set aside.
  3. In a medium size pot bring water, butter and oil to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour into flour mixture.  With a hand mixer, beat well until batter is completely smooth and no lumps remain.
  4. In a separate smaller bowl mix eggs, vanilla, baking soda and buttermilk.
  5. Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
  6. Pour cake batter into baking pan.  Bake 9X13 pan 30-35 minutes, bake the 10X15 inch pan 20-24 minutes or until cake edges draw away from the pan and cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and make icing.
  8. In a medium size pot add 7 tablespoons butter and brown sugar.  Melt butter over medium heat and whisk until butter and sugar are well combined.
  9. Remove from heat and add heavy cream, whisking well.
  10. Add confectioner’s sugar and, using a hand mixer, beat until icing is smooth and there are no lumps.
  11. Immediately pour over cake and smooth and spread icing until top of cake is covered.
  12. Cool cake 15 minutes prior to slicing.
  13. To freeze cake, allow to cool completely, wrap well with plastic wrap then tin foil. Gently press out any air bubbles.  When ready to serve, do not unwrap cake and thaw.  When the cake is at room temperature, mix up icing, unwrap cake and pour icing over the top. Smooth and spread icing.




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