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Recipe: Simple Cake

I love butter cake. I love it with buttercream, I love it with lemon curd, I love it dusted with icing sugar, I love it as cupcakes, I especially love it as butterfly cupcakes... but I think I love it the most when:

  • the cupcakes come out of the oven with a slight crust

  • you get to eat it hot

  • and it’s almost like sweet, hot, crusty bread...


My great-grandmother had a butter cake recipe she called ‘Simple Cake’, because it was. An all-in one. It’s the go-to of the women in my family, and I love it. As much as I'm fairly loyal to the recipe, after doing a few dozen times, I did decide that it was better if you creamed the butter and sugar first – it ends up with a lighter texture. Vanilla essence of old has also been replaced with vanilla bean paste. The Queens $10 one is my favourite; when all you have is vanilla and butter for flavour – quality makes a difference. I do love using seeds scraped fresh from a vanilla pod, although I'll usually save these for a creme brulee, when absolutely no hint of extract will do.

My mum thinks I’m nuts because I’ll only ever use fresh blocks of butter for Simple Cake – if they’ve been in the fridge, it’s a no go! That stems from the one time I made the cake and some one said: ‘Oh! It tastes good…sorta like…basil!’

Moral of the story: butter picks up smells in the fridge!

This recipe is similar to many butter cakes, although it's a small mixture and has the important addition of cornflour.

Simple Cake:

125g butter at room temperature

3/4cup caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 eggs at room temperature

¼ - ½ cup milk (A quarter is the original quantity, but I like half a cup! Rebel! Also at room temperature)

1 cup SR flour

2 dessert spoons cornflour

Pinch salt

Cream the butter and sugar, fold the rest of it in, bake for 30 minutes at 180, or about 15-20 minutes for cupcakes.

The best version I’ve ever made of it was a double mixture, with vanilla bean buttercream. Two cakes, sandwiched with raspberry coulis, iced all over with buttercream, and topped with fresh raspberries. Was a wedding party cake for a girlfriend. It just all came together, like the baking gods were smiling on me. I still dream about that cake.

I hope you get the chance to bake this, and enjoy it with friends and family. Works great with additions of citrus zest, and with many types of icing. Good for 2 days in a airtight container. After that, I'm terribly sorry, but you're going to have to soak it in booze and make a trifle.

xo Amanda

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