Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

Today is Valentine’s Day. Steve and I get to celebrate it by going to a fertility specialist. Yay.

Well, despite that minor setback to the overall V-day romantic mood, we’re making the best of it. We still get to spend the whole day together, since the appointment is in Indy, and we’re going to Seasons 52 for dinner afterwards. And because Steve loves me very much, there may be geocaching.

I started craving chocolate cake last week, and as I was reading Laurie Colwin’s book More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen, I stumbled on a chapter that included three chocolate cake recipes. I picked the one that seemed like it would take the least toll on my attempts to eat healthy.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake (originally from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook)


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 350, and butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix in a separate bowl the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Mix it all until combined. Turn the batter into the pan and bake 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

In Colwin’s own words: “It is hard to encapsulate the virtues of this cake. It is fast, easy, and scrumptious. It has a velvety, powdery feel – the result of all that cocoa. It is not so horribly bad for you, because you use buttermilk, which is relatively low in fat, and cocoa powder is defatted anyway. Furthermore, it keeps like a dream and tastes even better after a few days.”

A calorie recipe analysis says that this cake is about 280 calories per serving. Not too shabby! It’s delicious on it’s own, but it’s also great with whipped cream. Try frosting or ice cream, too. This was my FIRST EVER from-scratch chocolate cake. I think I’m a convert. Also, I may just start keeping buttermilk in the fridge more often. I also made from-scratch buttermilk pancakes this week, and they were the best I’ve ever made.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!



  1. //

    Identical cake recipe I have been making for 50 years from an old ww iI edition of Fannie farmer’s cookbook
    It works great.

  2. //

    Thank u for posting this recipe! I love it, I had the cookbook but i lost it and i really wanted to make this. Its quick, easy amd tasty

  3. //

    If you want to make cupcakes instead,how long would you bake them? Thanks for posting this, I lost this recipe when my old FF cookbook fell apart and I replaced it. The new edition didn’t have it.

  4. //

    I have the 1984 version of the cookbook and when I made the cake, I thought there was a mistake because there didn’t seem to be enough liquid, so I added two cups of buttermilk instead of one, and I have always added 2 cups. I was young at the time. I may have to try it with only 1 cup of buttermilk.

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