How To Make The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Im not one for secrets.  Especially where chocolate is involved. 

I always have a few tricks up my sleeve and I can never keep them secrets for long.  Brown sugar baked bacon is one secret.  Sweet, salty, crisp, and perfect.  Adding that bacon to biscuits,  completely over the top good!  Brown butter in everything, most especially chocolate chip cookies…. another secret I just couldn’t keep to myself.  

Today another secret comes out.  We’re talking about the most perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  Soft, glossy, light and spreadable… and the secret ingredients are Rich Chocolate Ovaltine and heavy cream!  Malted chocolate milk powder and cream to add extra body, and a light whipped texture to our frosting.  It’s unexpected and perfect!  

I hope there is cake (and waaaay too much buttercream) in your future.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Here’s what you’ll need:

• Three sticks (1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter.  I think it’s best to leave the butter out overnight to softened to room temperature through and through.  Softening butter in the microwave makes the butter more melty than soft and can break our perfect buttercream,  

•  Unsweetened cocoa powder, and lots of it.

•  Salt, to balance the mountain of powdered sugar.

•  A mountain of powdered sugar. 

•  Milk for moisture and softness.

•  Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, the chocolate malted milk powder adds a creamy softness to this buttercream and makes it extra rich, glossy, and luscious.  

•  Heavy cream because, always.  

•  Extra credit:  pure vanilla extract.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Whipping together perfect buttercream frosting isn’t hard, but there are a few tricks to make things go smoothly.  

First, room temperature butter is creamed together with unsweetened cocoa powder and salt.  No sugar just yet.  Incorporating the butter and cocoa powder will ensure that the butter is soft and pliable and the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout the frosting.  The mixture will be thick.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl once or twice during mixing.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Next, add the powdered sugar all at once.  Just go for it.  Mix on low and slowly drizzle in milk and vanilla extract.  Get the mixture incorporated, but no need to whip the frosting on high just yet.  We’ll get to that soon.  The frosting should be relatively smooth and glossy (and it’s only going to get better!).  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

In a small bowl, stir together Ovaltine and heavy cream.  

The mixture will thicken a bit as it sits.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

With the mixer on medium, add half of the Ovaltine and cream mixture.  Increase the speed and add a bit more.  The buttercream will lighten slightly in color as it comes together.  

Stop the mixer and scrape along the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that it’s all mixing evenly.  You may not need the entire Ovaltine mixture, but just add enough to create a glossy, smooth, completely spreadable frosting.  I find that beating the buttercream on medium for about 1 minute makes a lovely frosting.  Try not to overheat the buttercream as that might break the butter.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This buttercream is whipped and soft.  Perfect for frosting cakes.  It’s so soft and creamy it won’t rip the cakes or cause you undue stress. Plenty of frosting for a three layer cake or a sheet cake with frosting to spare.  Any leftover frosting can be stored in the freezer for a cake or chocolate emergency.

This buttercream is also supreme eaten directly from the bowl with a spoon.

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


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Prep Time
20 min

Prep Time
20 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  2. 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 4 cups powdered sugar
  5. 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  6. 1/4 cup whole milk
  7. 3/4 cup heavy cream
  8. 2/3 cup Rich Chocolate Ovaltine powder
Instructions
  1. Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
  3. In a 2 cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour half of the cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream. Stop the mister scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add remaining cream mixture or until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Beat until soft and creamy, about 1 minute.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Bring to room temperature before frosting cakes and cupcakes.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

This morning I stood under a blossoming orange tree that hummed with honey bees.  I found my way under this tree after a walk through my neighborhood on one of those mornings that couldn’t decide if it wanted to laugh or cry.

The sidewalk showed evidence of midnight rain.  The smell of rain on asphalt… ooh so perfectly dreamy.  The sky, bright blue with clusters of pure white and angry grey clouds.

The air was just cold enough to chill me through my sweater and carried the scent of orange blossoms nearly a block.  That’s the scene that lead me, arms hugging my chest, to the bee humming orange tree, live with blossoms and heavy with fruit.

The scene screamed of Spring.

Standing there under that tree, it felt like life was just bursting out into the world.  What a pure expression of life and beauty that tree was this morning.

Happy Spring.

Have some life… enjoy it!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Carrot Cake Cupcakes are a spring classic.  Right?  I paired mine with Dulce de Leche Buttercream, but feel free to groove on with a classic Cream Cheese Frosting.  These beauties are unadulterated carrot yum, the kind of treat you might find at a church bake sale…. like, the best church bake sale ever!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

adapted from Martha Stewart

Print this Recipe!

makes about 28 cupcakes

  • 4 cups peeled and finely grated carrots
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use (or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together carrots, eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla seeds, and coconut, pineapple and nuts if desired. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.
    2. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until testers inserted into centers come out clean, 23 to 28 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks, 10 minutes. Turn out cupcakes onto wire racks, and let cool completely. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen for up to 2 months in airtight containers.
    3. Frost cupcakes with dulce de leche or cream cheese frosting. Frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature, and sprinkle with toasted coconut (press gently to adhere) before serving.

Dulce de Leche Buttercream Frosting

from The Pastry Queen
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup prepared dulce de leche
Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar on low using an electric mixer.  Add cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth and no lumps appear.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the prepared dulce de leche and beat to incorporate.  Frost cooled cupcakes using a knife or a pastry bag and tip.  Top with toasted coconut.

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Please allow me this last party post. You won’t have to hear a word about it after this. Promise. But what’s a party without cupcakes? And what’s a chocolate cupcake without The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting? Tragedy, I suppose.

It should go without saying that these super soft chocolate cupcakes were a hit at the party. But there is one mystery. Around about 2 in the morning, as I was somehow making my way around the room collecting dirty plates, I ran across a plate with a discarded cupcake on it. The cupcake had one bite taken out of it, and then the remainder of the cupcake was smashed upside down onto the dirty paper plate. WHAT!? Who would do that!? Seriously… not cool.

Super Soft Chocolate Cupcakes

Print this Recipe!

makes about 4 dozen cupcakes… maybe more.. lots of cupcakes!

3 cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 Tablespoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups sour cream

1  cup strong coffee, cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with cupcake papers. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute in between each addition. Scrape down bowl after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the creamed butter and sugar alternately with the sour cream. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat to incorporate.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cooled strong coffee to the batter. Add in a slow steady stream to prevent splashing. The batter will become fairly thing and smooth. Scrape down bowl and beat for 1 minute to ensure the batter is completely mixed.

Pour into cupcake papers and bake on middle rack for 15 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove from oven and set on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool to room temperature on wire racks.

Now, as promised- The best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, with a secret ingredient- Ovaltine. Yes, rich chocolate Ovaltine. When combined with heavy cream, it gives the frosting the most luscious flavor and spreadable consistency. So yum!

I didn’t invent Chocolate Buttercream.  The inspiration comes from a Los Angeles bakery I worked in.

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

adapted from Delilah Bakery

1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup Ovaltine

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 2 cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream.

Remember how I was lamenting about my sometimes insane Martha Stewart tendencies? Well the craft gene, handed down to me from my mother, came out in full force with these drink umbrellas. The instructions are from Martha Stewart- which pretty much makes her the instigator. Should I shake my fist in the air with displeasure? No, I have to admit, these umbrellas might have been worth the 5 hours it took to make them. They’re pretty cute.

And yes, there were people at this party. But I can’t be sure they all want to be immortalized on this blog. I’ll spare them that pain, if you’ll allow it.

Blackberry Jam Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I come from a food lovin’ family, so nearly all of the treats I bake are an effort to rekindle a fond memory from my past.  My sister and I are so fixated on food, that all of our family vacations growing up are remembered soley for the food we consumed.  About 15 years ago, we took a 2 week long family trip to Washington DC.  It was a big deal for our middle class family, and my parents even took us out of school for the two week period with the gaurantee that we would write a full report on our educational trip upon our return.  After a tour of countless museums and battlefields, the only two things my sister and I remeber are- Uno Pizza and Cheetos.

Criminal isn’t it?  We ate at an Uno Pizza somewhere along the trip.  It was delicious.  Obviously.  And one day in DC, my parents let us buy a bag of Cheetos (we didn’t get to eat a lot of junk food) and my sister and I followed my parents around the city sharing our Cheetos with little brown birds on the street.  My sister and I now call those little brown city birds Cheetos…. still.  The school report, was probably a glowing review of Uno’s deep dish pizza crust.  Oh my.

What does all of this have to do with Blackberry Jam Cake?  Have patience and continue reading.

This Blackberry Jam Cake takes me back to my Aunt DeeDee’s kitchen.  Have I told you about my aunt?  She is only one of the most glorious people to grace this earth.  She was a renegade baker, and nothing could stop her.  See, she was blinded by a brain tumor in her 30’s, but she still knew her way around the kitchen and would create unbelievably good food.

DeeDee had a cake she called Arabic Spice Cake.  The recipe has since been lost, but this cake with it’s fragrant spice, crunchy nuts and delicate sweetness takes me back to her kitchen.

The cake has a cup of seedless blackberry jam, walnuts and golden raisins, and is spiced with allspice, cloves and cinnamon.  It’s  moist, warm, inviting, and feels like a hug from my Aunt DeeDee.  Truly priceless.

Also- I’m working my my next podcast this weekend, so stay tuned!!

Blackberry Jam Cake

adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Print this Recipe!

3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup seedless blackberry jam

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

For the Cake

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, line bottom with parchment or waxed paper, and butter paper.

Sift together 3 cups flour and salt into a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugar, allspice, cloves and cinnamon in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs and beat until well combined.

Stir together buttermilk and baking soda in a small bowl.  Working in 3 batches, alternately add flour and buttermilk mixtures to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition.  Add jam and beat until well combined.  Toss together raisins and nuts with remaining 1 Tablespoon of flour in a bowl, then add to batter and stir until well combined.

Pour batter into baking pan.  Bake until wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes.  Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert cake onto rack, remove paper and cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 ounces egg whites

8 ounces granulated sugar

12 ounces unsalted butter, softened

pinch of salt

Place a medium sized pan with about 3 inches of water over medium heat.  Place egg whites and salt in a medium sized bowl to create a double boiler over the simmering water.

Once water is simmering, place bowl of egg whites over water, making sure that simmering water does not touch the bottom of the egg white bowl.  Whisk egg whites and gradually add 8 ounces of sugar.

Whisk egg whites and sugar over double boiler, whisking constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5-8 minutes.

Remove egg white bowl from double boiler and pour egg white and sugar mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer.  With the whisk attachment, whisk egg white and sugar on medium speed for about 4 minutes.

While the eggs are whisking, cut softened butter into large chunks, about 8 chunks per stick of butter.  When egg white mixture has body and is slightly cooked, stop the mixer and switch to the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on medium speed, add butter one chunk at a time, letting each chunk of butter incorporate into the egg white mixture for about 20 seconds.

Continue to slowly add the butter chunks, stopping the mixer to scrape down the bowl as necessary.

As you are adding the last chunks of butter, the buttercream will start to look curdled.  Don’t worry, just keep the mixer going and add the remaining butter, it will all come together, and the curdled look will disappear.

To Assemble Cake

Place cake on large cake plate, or cake board.  Add a thin layer of blackberry jam on top of the cake if desired, this step is optional.  Dollop swiss meringue buttercream atop cake, and smooth.  I left the sides of the cake bare to show off the dripping blackberry jam and the gorgeous brown color of the cake.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

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Dating someone new means meeting all sorts of new people.

Listen… I know I’m getting old and this isn’t my first jump into meeting the groups of friends, the work buddies, the casual friends, the bosses, the grandma, or the adopted dog of the strapping young gent that I’m dating.  Sadly, all this experience has made me no less awkward and devoid of grace.  I have a tendency towards embarrassing sweat, stuttering and knuckle cracking that is less than charming… Or!  I just talk about my kitten, or the family dog, or this giant white rabbit that attacked me in 4th grade and no one believed me but it TOTALLY happened… and then I just leave other people feeling weird… and it’s all just awkward.

Anyhow!  I’ve devised two personal tactics to detract from such boneheaded behavior:  wear a pretty dress and heels and always bring cupcakes (or cookies or brownies or granola… or pie).  This way, I feel pretty and I turn into a tall girl… and people instantly love me when I had them a box of chocolate and sugar.  It’s a little bit of a dirty trick and it works every time.

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Sprinkles?  A lifesaver.  Who could resist?

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These Vanilla Bean Cupcakes are a classic.  They’re exactly like every cupcake I ate between the ages of five and nine.

Dense but moist cake with an undeniable vanilla flavor.

They’re sweet.  They make me want a balloon animal made for me.

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These un-frosted but baked cupcakes also freeze well.

And they taste great right out of the freezer… all hard and cold and gnarly.  But that’s not their best use.

They really should be smothered in chocolate buttercream and eaten in mass.

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This is absolutely my favorite Chocolate Buttercream recipe.  It’s smooth and thoroughly chocolaty, without being stiff and overly sweet like chocolate buttercream can sometimes become.  I didn’t invent Chocolate Buttercream.  The inspiration comes from a Los Angeles bakery I worked in.

The secret ingredient is Ovaltine powder and heavy cream.  If you can’t get your hands on Ovaltine, you might try using hot chocolate mix.  Yea.  Weird… but totally delicious!  Count on it.

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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes

from Organic and Chic

Print this Recipe!

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This may take 3 to 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  If the batter begins to looks a bit curdled, that’s alright.

with the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the vanilla milk mixture in three batches, starting and ending with the flour.  When the batter is almost combined, stop the mixer and finish mixing the batter with a spatula, making sure that any flour bits at the bottom of the bowl are well incorporated.

Divide into the lined cupcake pan and bake for 25 minutes or until golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely before frosting.

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes or one 8-inch layer cake

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Ovaltine

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream.  Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.  Yuuuuuuuuum!!

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

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I forget.

I sometimes forget that we have a thing here.  A thing that’s more of a weird Internet friendship than a simple fling.  Forgive my forgetting.

I’ve gotten a lot of urgent emails and tweets and random Internet shouts about why why why WHY I picked up and moved my little world to New Orleans.  (I also respect the fact that some of you couldn’t care less… that’s cool.)

The answer is probably far less exciting that you’d like it to be.  I moved from California to New Orleans because I wanted to.  I wanted a change in place, a jolt of inspiration, more crawfish on my plate, adventure.  I wanted to feel out of my element and get to know a new place.  New Orleans, with its little bit of magic, seems like the place my heart wants to be.  So… this is that!

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

Can I be honest with you about something?  The more people asked me why I was moving to New Orleans, the more I wanted to hold that information close and keep it to myself.  I try to keep a balance of what I share with the big wide Internet (with its supporters and haters) and what I keep to myself.  Mostly I’m trying to protect you from things like… my weird love for One Direction and all those times I feel too many feelings.

I’ve created a place where I can share, where we can share, where we can hang out and bake together.  Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want all of the nitty-gritty.  I just forget that sometimes I have to explain myself. It totally makes sense that you would want to know the why.  (Again, it also makes sense if you don’t give a care.)

Anyhow… I’m still trying to figure this whole ‘sharing on the Internet’ thing out… six years into the game.

At least now you know the not terribly interesting reason I moved to New Orleans.  Did I mention the crawfish?  That has a lot to do with it.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

I’m still figuring out how I want to photograph in my new space, I’m learning the quirks of my new oven (which are many), and I’m trying to figure out if there’s a single surface that my cat can’t jump on.  I appreciate that you’re along for that ride.

Learning curve: steep.  Still there’s cake.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

Oh, all the flavors we can pull from a lemon.

Lemon zest is rubbed together with the granulated sugar for this pound cake.  The essential oils really add a kick of lemon.  Definitely don’t skip the lemon + sugar rub down.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

When our newly crafted lemon sugar, we cream butter into the most lovely, sweet and whipped cake fat.

It’s not called pound cake because it’s fat free.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

The batter has some body!  It’s not all the way dense, but it’s a thick (not pourable) batter.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

I have a thing against springform pans.  I’m fully against them where cheesecake and water-baths are involved.  You want me to wrap this pan in foil in order to bake a cake and it’s not going to work and I’m going to have a soggy cheesecake that I had to wait a full day to eat!? NO.

I’ve been burned (not literally) by the unreliable springform pan one too many times.

BUT!  For making a thick batter pound cake… springform and I are friends again.

A regular 9-inch round cake pan will also work very well, and will save you lots of feelings and emotions.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

Our simple, single layer cake.  It smells soooo good!  Scratch and sniff, you wish.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

While the cake was baking, I whipped up a simple buttercream.

You know the deal… butter and powdered sugar, lemon juice for continuity, salt for balance, and poppy seeds because we’re fancy.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

You know what’s nice?  Just letting it be a single layer cake.  Not fuss about stacking and frosting the sides.  Just a tender and sweet lemon pound cake with a generous layer of creamy frosting.

The poppy seeds add a nice crunch.  If you’re feeling extra poppy, feel free to add an additional tablespoon to the cake batter.

This cake is not light and fluffy like a lemon layer cake.  The crumb is a bit more dense, but still soft and moist.  Take care not to over bake the sucker.  There are some crimes that even buttercream can’t hide.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

makes 1 single layer 9-inch cake

adapted from The Joy of Baking

Print this Recipe!

For the Cake: 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

zest of 1 large lemon

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod discarded (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

For the Buttercream: 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

splash of milk or cream as needed for consistency

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.  If you don’t have a springform pan, a regular 9-inch cake pan will also be fine.  Just make sure that the cake pan has high sides (3-inches or so).  Set aside the greased pan.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer) beat the butter until pliable and soft, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl toss together sugar and lemon zest using the back of a small spoon.  The sugar will become moist and super fragrant.

Add the sugar to the butter and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Mixture will be pale in color.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Beat in the vanilla extract once all of the eggs are mixed in.  The batter may look curdled.  That’s ok!

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat on low speed until almost incorporated.  Add the lemon juice and beat to combine.  Stop the mixer and finish combining the batter with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Scrape down the bottom of the bowl to make sure you’ve completely incorporated all of the ingredients.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth.  Allow to bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter, 2 cups of powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium-ugh until smooth and creamy.  Add up to a cup more powdered sugar to thicken the consistency.  Add a splash of milk or cream for a thinner consistency.  I prefer my buttercream not too thick as to not tear the cake when frosting.  Once you get your consistency where you’d like it, beat in the poppy seeds.  Add a touch of yellow food die if you’d like.

Spoon and spread the buttercream over the completely cooled cake.  Don’t worry about frosting the sides.  Leave them bare.  Allow the cake the rest in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.  Cake will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.