buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog
If you follow along on my instagram account, you may have noticed I’ve been baking quite a bit since September (well, quite a bit more than usual, if that’s possible). The reason is that I have been recipe testing like a mad woman, working on my first book.

I’m still pinching myself about the whole thing. I spent all middle school and junior high writing short stories, novellas, and poems in the free time I had, dreaming that maybe one day my work would make its way to book form. So while ‘cookbook’ was never in my plans (I was always working on some Nancy Drew enters Narnia with Sweet Valley High make-out scenes type book), I am so excited to have this opportunity.

I still have a lot more work to do, but my cookbook will be coming out Fall 2016, and is being published by Avery in the US and Penguin in Canada. It will be a book focused on baking with a handful of favorites from this space, but will mostly contain new recipes. I will also be photographing the entire book.
buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog

buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog

buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog
So, how about cake to celebrate? I’m enamored with blood oranges, and decided to top a buttermilk cake with some blood orange frosting. The bright purple juice naturally dyed the icing a light shade of pink, and I couldn’t be happier. Gold sprinkles never hurt anything, either (and the color combination was inspired by these plates, which I have fallen so hard for). Hip Hip Hooray!

buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog
Buttermilk Cake
adapted from Nothing but Delicious

I have made this cake before in two layers, and it turned out just fine, although it was a bit dense. I do recommend making three layers. The cake above shows two – I actually did make three, but the third layer got nibbled on by my kids.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (about 70 degrees)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans (make sure cake pans are at least 2 inches tall). Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans (if you need a visual on this step, here is a You Tube video that is helpful).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Mix together the buttermilk and sour cream in a small measuring cup, and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the butter with a whisk attachment at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, and beat again until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla, then whisk the batter again at medium speed for 4-5 minutes, until the batter is light and voluminous.

Using a spatula, fold in the flour and the buttermilk-sour cream mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes, or until set in the center and a cake tester comes out with just the slightest bit of crumb.

Blood Orange Frosting
Start with 1/8 teaspoon salt, and add more if the frosting is too sweet.

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
zest of one blood orange
1/4 cup blood orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons Triple Sec (optional)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt (see note)
4 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Scrape down the sides and add the orange zest, juice, vanilla, Triple Sec (if using) and salt. Mix on low until combined, and then beat the ingredients together for a minute. Turn the mixer back to low, and slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high, and then beat 6-8 minutes until light and fluffy.
buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog

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141 Responses to buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting + a book

  1. Laura says:

    (But also please finish the Narnia, Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew epic)

  2. Iris Hanlin says:

    Oh my GOSH. That looks heavenly. I’ll be making that for my birthday in March!

    The Starving Inspired

  3. So the news is out!! How thrilling. Congrats all over again. xox

  4. So happy to hear your good news!! I can’t wait for this book!

  5. Ashley says:

    This is so exciting! Congrats!!!

  6. Erika says:

    Wow so much congrats to you! Can’t wait to see this book.. and I really think you should still follow through with the Narnia- Sweet Valley High make-out scenes type book.. just sayin.. 🙂

  7. Woo hoo!!!!! Huge congrats! I cannot wait for your book!
    I hope you fully enjoy the crazy adventure.

  8. Michelle says:

    A HUGE congrats Sarah! I’ve been a big fan of your blog for a while now, and I’ve found your recipes to be incredibly consistent and delicious. You always include all the right pointers/instructions that a baker needs to make sure the product turns out right. I’ve made your scones, cookies, cakes, and all have been huge successes.

    I cannot wait to own your book!

  9. Jordina says:

    I have never tried blood oranges before, seems like this cake will be the way I will finally try them 🙂 looks magnificient

  10. Edlyn says:

    Such wonderful, wonderful news! Congratulations, Sarah. I love how you’ve written this announcement – it seems like you’re doing something so natural. I can’t wait to see what you so with all the wonderful talent you have! And please post excerpts (if not the whole) from the Nancy Drew meets Narnia meets SVH book. I am dying!

    And yes, let’s eat cake!

  11. Hope says:

    Wow that’s amazing, congratulations x

  12. I’m really happy for you, Sarah. I look forward to getting my hands on it, it’s going to be one amazing baking book to learn from!

  13. Winnie says:

    I am so very happy to read this news…hip hip hooray is right!

  14. Congrats!!! I can’t wait for your cookbook. And the color of the frosting on this cake is EVERYTHING.

  15. Renee Kemps says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!! That’s great news and definitely requires cake to celebrate it! Can’t wait for the book to be published and see all the recipes that you are now creating!

  16. This is thrilling news! Fantastic. And what a gorgeous cake to celebrate. I’m snapping up all the blood oranges (and meyer lemons too!) lately. I just can’t get enough and they will be gone too soon! Yeah! Congrats!

  17. Abby says:

    Yay! Yay! Yay!
    This is such wonderful news, Sarah… I can’t wait to see the finished book. It’s going to be just lovely.
    the photos in this post are perfection! 🙂

  18. Emily says:


  19. Congrats on the book! I can’t wait to add it to my collection!! I’m also not-so-secretly hoping you can somehow work in some of those Nancy Drew enters Narnia with Sweet Valley High make-out scenes. 🙂

  20. Kate says:

    Sarah, this is marvelous news! I can’t wait to see your cookbook. This cake is making me want to run out for dessert right this minute, so I can only imagine the cravings your cookbook will induce! Blood orange frosting, just brilliant.

  21. cynthia says:

    BEST. NEWS. EVER. The hugest congrats to you, Sarah!!!!!!!

  22. Christine says:

    Wow! Congratulations! What wonderful news!

  23. This is AMAZING news.. can’t wait to see the final product and get my hands on a copy. Lovely cake too!

  24. How exciting yay!!!! This cake also looks beautiful – the frosting colour is just <3

  25. CONGRATS! I can’t wait to see it and I know it’s going to be gorgeous! xoxo

  26. Imen says:

    this is EPIC epic news Sarah! Congratulations, I’ll be first in line to buy your book! And, will also wait patiently for the Nancy Drew/Sweet Valley High mashup follow up!! Xx

  27. Kasey says:

    Sarah! I am SO thrilled for you. Hooray!! Also, my birthday cake plans for this weekend may have to dramatically change. This cake! I have gold sprinkles in my cupboard. Dare I say, it is meant to be? Sending you love.

  28. HIGH FIVE! This is so exciting!!! Congratulations Sarah, this is totally deserved. I genuinely cannot wait to see your book when it’s done. CANNOT. WAIT.

  29. Yessssss! About time! It’s going to be gorgeous!

  30. Tieghan says:

    SO exciting!! Congrats! 🙂

  31. Meghan says:

    I am so so so excited for you! I have absolutely no doubt that it’s going to be beautiful. Congrats congrats congrats!

  32. Sini says:

    Huge congrats, Sarah! It wasn’t but a few days ago when i wondered when you would write a cookbook. Not kidding! So crazy excited for you (and for me cause I can’t wait to get baking from it). xx

  33. Looks divine and we have blood oranges in the shops right now!

  34. Sorry I meant to say congratulations too!!

  35. Oana says:

    Wow, what a beautiful cake! Love the pastel color of the frosting, makes it so delicate!
    Excited to learn about your cookbook. Congrats and have fun making it happen!

  36. YIPPEE!!!!!!!! I’ve been waiting for this day and had an inkling a book would on the cards soon. It’s going to be so so so beautiful Sarah 🙂 xxx

  37. blood orange!! that right there is amazing. this cake looks so good and you photos are beautiful! great post!

  38. Lucie says:

    I’m so glad I just found your Instagram account by chance and clicked to reach you blog. Everything looks delicious and your pictures are poetries 🙂

  39. This is the BEST news. Congratulations!!!

    The cake is beautiful.

  40. I LOVE this news! Congrats, Sarah! I cannot wait to see it come together. 🙂

  41. maya says:

    Such great news! Can’t wait… and I’m so excited for you!

    • Sarah says:

      Maya! Thank you so much. I still remember when you stopped by other little blog and gave such kind, helpful comments. They meant so much to me, and I’ve been a big fan of yours since. xx

  42. Doing a happy dance! Congrats Sarah! This is wonderful news!!!

  43. naomi says:

    Oh, this is so fantastic! Congrats, Sarah! So well deserved and I can’t wait.

  44. Chanele Eichbauer says:

    Hi Sarah, congrats! I can’t wait. Everything I try of yours, turns out fantastically. I would love to make this cake and noticed that you say to use three pans, but in the picture there’s only two layers? Is the batter enough for three pans or just two?


    • Sarah says:

      I forgot to mention that; thanks. I have made it in two layers previous to this cake, and it does turn out, but the layers are a bit dense. I did make 3 layers for this cake, but only used two, and the other one was nibbled on by my kids, ha. I think it tastes better divided into three layers. I hope that helps. (also, thanks for the kind words!)

  45. This blood orange frosting looks amazing!!

  46. Heather says:

    So happy for you. Congrats. xo

  47. So excited for you (and for me!) about your new book, Sarah. Congratulations! And this cake looks absolutely wonderful!

  48. Jessica says:

    Congratulations on the book!!! So exciting 🙂 As soon as I saw the photo I knew I wanted to make this cake, and I didn’t even know what it was. Can’t wait to try it!

  49. Kathryn says:

    Hip hip hooray! I can’t tell you how excited I am about your book new. I know it’s going to be a beauty and something I will turn to time and time again.

  50. Yay!!! Congrats to you on your book! And please, pass a bowl of this frosting. 🙂

  51. Congrats on the book 🙂 your photos are always so beautiful I can’t wait to see what the book will look like!

    Ooo I do love cake and I love blood orange anything. This sounds interesting and a must try! I haven’t made a cake in such a long time.. last one I made the magpies came in through the kitchen window and picked all the fruit off the top. I was too upset and disgusted to try and salvage it… Damn birds!

  52. […] I’m such a sucker for buttermilk cake, and this frosting sounds delicious. […]

  53. Lizzie says:

    Congratulation on the book. I just found your blog, but I am already dying to make some of the recipes. Your pictures are just amazing!

  54. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Writing and the photographing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Very impressive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I am smiling as I am being will here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. Yay the word is out!!! So incredibly happy for you my dear. Can. Not. Wait! Much love xx

  56. Izy says:

    oh my goodness!! Congratulations Sarah, that is such amazing news. I can’t wait to see it 🙂

  57. Erika says:

    Wowowow congrats Sarah!!!! So looking forward to what is sure to be a PHENOMENAL cookbook! Loving the pink frosting on this delicious-sounding cake–that overhead photo of all the strong cut lines in the cake is just pure beauty!!

  58. […] Sarah Kieffer is working on a book, too! Cannot wait to see what is certain to be a gorgeous creation. […]

  59. LoveCompassionateLee says:

    Congratulations Sarah!

  60. Shaheen says:

    Such AMAZING news. Can’t wait. Hopefully it’ll make its way to the UK soon as well. x

  61. Sugar et al. says:

    Congratulations Sarah! Big fan of your work and I can’t wait to see the book The cake is so gorgeous!

  62. Jennifer says:

    My good friend just asked me to make this for her. Can’t wait to try it!

  63. Kelsey M says:

    Congratulations! How very exciting indeed!!

    A blood orange cake is the perfect way to celebrate!


  64. Clairie says:

    Oh my! The the combination of the pink frosting and gold sprinkles is just incredible, but your photos are even more tempting! I’m so happy that you will be photographing the entire cookbook! I think food photography is real art, and I’m in love with your sense of minimalism and soft tones. Honestly, if I was cooking, the result never looked so amazing – and definitely not on the pictures! I recently realized how important is how we see the food we are we eating, creative dining events like this helped me a lot: the combination of an ordinary place and professional cooks revealed that creating a dish that looks delicious is easier than I thought and it’s all about the small details… Pretty eye-opening! My favourite one is the third picture with the unusual composition!

  65. Elizabeth says:

    Woooooo!!! Congrats Sarah! I look forward to that cookbook. The buttermilk and blood orange cake looks fantastic (as usual), a good way to celebrate indeed. 🙂

  66. You’re enamored with blood oranges, I’m enamored with buttermilk! I think buttermilk makes THE BEST cakes! I bet the blood orange frosting is to die for too. Congrats on the new book, I can’t wait to take a look at it.

  67. Trisha says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!! so amazing – cannot wait for your book. it is going to be awesome! x

  68. Congratulations! So deserved. You have so many fans that have been waiting patiently!

  69. Gemma says:

    This frosting has a gorgeous pale pink shade! =) What a great way to naturally add color to your frosting.
    The cake is absolutely gorgeous, perfect for Valentine’s Day.


  70. Buttermilk and blood orange….lovely combination. Im on the case this week.
    Thank you and hi from the UK.
    Alan ( cumbriafoodie )

  71. violet says:

    I really love this cake the frosting looks so light and tasty! I will try this soon! congrats!

  72. […] Buttermilk Cake with Blood Orange Frosting – Blood oranges seem to be the rage in the food blogging world these days. Need to try blood oranges some time. […]

  73. wow! What wonderful and exciting news. I can only image how beautiful your book is going to be Sarah!! Congratulations !! I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on it when it comes out!! woo hoo.

  74. Wesley Tyler says:

    this cakes icing is what drew me in, i cant wait to try this! I enjoyed your site, seems i am always looking at, cooking, or eating food of some sort! I just love food and cooking, i collect old cook books. Mostly southern, i own http://howtocooksouthern.com/ I try to focus on Southern Cooking, food history and Etc…. Wes :)>

  75. […] The Vanilla Bean Blog’s Buttermilk Cake with Blood Orange Frosting: There are so many great things about this post! The cake recipe looks delicious, and since […]

  76. Sarah-
    I’m SO excited about your first cookbook. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing! (and absolutely gorgeous pics!!)

  77. […] on the way home, still unsure what to do. Still no coconut milk, but blood oranges. I remembered Sarah Kieffer’s sublimely beautiful buttermilk cake, which I spotted while back home only to realise with a weird amount of sadness that it was […]

  78. Gina says:

    Have you ever tried these as a cupcake? This looks amazing!

  79. krystine says:

    Made this frosting last night for some birthday cupcakes and it turned out peeeeeerfect. Great recipe. Thank you!!

  80. marcella says:

    I’have done it today,what a wonderful cake…
    I ‘d like do it again maybe with a little change in the flavour and colour as it will be on the end of may for the first communion of my son. I think I could bake it two days before and frostening it the day before keeping in the fridge or in the counter ???
    thank you

  81. […] If you follow The Vanilla Bean Blog, you probably know that she’s working on a cookbook  as we speak. I’m really excited, but since it’s coming in 2016, there’s no pre-order info […]

  82. Marie-Ève says:

    Hi! This looks sooo good! Is this recipe going to be part of your upcoming book?!

  83. […] leftover from Halloween and my vanity overpowers my desire to be original. Consequently, check out The Vanilla Bean Blog for the original […]

  84. […] Buttermilk Cake with Blood Orange Frosting […]

  85. […] Buttermilk Cake with Blood Orange Frosting from The Vanilla Bean […]

  86. Sarah says:

    Oh my gosh! This sounds so good! The recipe doesn’t sound too complicated either, which is good for me. The cake also looks so pretty! I love the gold sprinkles that you put on it as well, it makes the cake look especially good.

  87. Larissa says:

    What a beautiful cake! It must taste amazing too, I can’t wait to give it a try this summer. I included a link to your recipe in my round-up of creative cakes: http://www.shopbox.com/blog/creative-cake-ideas-for-your-bakery 🙂

  88. aubrey thompson says:

    made this today for fun. I used 3 6 inch cakes and some muffin tins. came out beautiful. I also used a dark chocolate ganache in between the layers. thank you for the great recipe, will make again soon!

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