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.
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
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.