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Island buttermilk cake

Sat, 3 September, 2016


Island buttermilk cake

Weird cake! What a weird cake! Apart from being seriously weird it is also THE EASIEST CAKE in the world and that’s official. Bish-bash, bucket cake. Only four main ingredients: flour, sugar, oil and buttermilk and the last is the magic ingredient.

It was certainly one of those cakes that look wrong in the making, don't resemble cake batter and make you feel like heading for a disaster. A third into making it I thought: ‘This is wrong. It can’t come out as proper cake’, as I was working my way through what could be easily mistaken for wet sand. The next third in I went: ‘WTF…?’ as the batter looked like a greasy lump of alien substance. Then I spooned it into the tin, berries on top, thinking 'what a waste of good berries' as everything looked WRONG apart from berries. I resignedly stuck it in the oven…

… and some time later…

... much, much later as I was using frozen fruit…

What do you know? It was a cake.

It’s actually such a delicious – AND EASY – cake to make it should be included in self-help therapy. People who get depressed because nothing they touch ever comes out right should try their hand at doing this - it comes out so right, so unexpectedly and every time!

Island cake

I think the magic ingredient is buttermilk - no baking powder and the rise on the cake is impressive; no butter but the taste is rich and buttery. The cake originates from Cranberry Island Bakery in Maine which sadly is no more. Huge shame as their defunct Facebook page also shows some divine whoopies. Either way, I’ll keep the recipe alive and can’t get enough berries to throw into this weird magic mix.

Island buttermilk cake

Servings: 1 loaf cakeTime: 1 hour 10 minute


  • 110g (½ cup) groundnut or rapeseed oil
  • 200g (scant cup) sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarb of soda
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries

Island cake ingredients


1. Butter and flour two miniature loaf tins or one 9x5 inch loaf tin. The miniature ones will bake a little quicker if you’re using the frozen berries.

2. Mix the oil and sugar in a bowl, add the nutmeg. Add the flour and salt and the bicarb of soda and mix in – the mixture will resemble wet sand. Add the buttermilk and mix into a greasy, smooth lump of dough.

Island cake mix

3. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3. Spoon a ¼ of the mix into each tin, or half if using a full sized loaf tin. Arrange the fruit in a layer, I used about 12-16 large frozen raspberries.

4. Spoon the remaining dough on top of the fruit, sprinkle with two tablespoons of sugar and bake for 40-50 minutes if using fresh fruit, and 70-80 minutes with frozen fruit.

Island cake in miniature tins

5. Check with a skewer – inserted in the middle, it should come out clean. Cool completely in the tin.

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Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Thank you - I'm delighted to hear it!
4 years ago
I tried this little number... it turned out nicer than I thought (as you noted). I used less sugar (as is my want), used frozen blueberries and topped it with cinnamon sugar. Any fruit would be nice really. I served it with custard, as a warm winter dessert. You’re an inspiration! By the way, rape seed oil IS canola oil. I used rice bran oil on this occasion.
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Maureen - yes you can substitute any neutral oil e.g. canola or other vegetable oil.
5 years ago
Maureen Speerly
What s groundnut or rapeseed oil? Can I substitute something else? Thanks
5 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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