Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges and Creme Fraiche recipe from “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg


4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ozs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of fresh orange zest

Glazed oranges (recipe follows)
Creme fraiche

Set an oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter or cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, and grease it too.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks with about 1/3 cup of the buttermilk.  Set aside.

Put the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half from tip to tip.  Run the back edge of the knife down each half of the pod, scraping out the tiny black seeds.  Place the seed into the bowl with the sugar.  Using your fingers, rub the seeds into the sugar, taking care to break up any clumps.  Discard the spent pod.

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the vanilla sugar.  Beat on low speed for  few seconds, just to combine.

Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the dry ingredients, along with the remaining buttermilk and orange zest.  Beat on low speed until the ingredients are moist, then increase the speed to medium and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the egg mixture in three doses, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat for 30 seconds on medium speed.  The batter should be thick but airy, very pale and smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


4 navel oranges, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

Using a small, sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom 1/4 inch of each one, revealing the flesh at either end.  Working with 1 orange at a time, stand the fruit on one end and cut closely down the sides, trimming away and discarding the peels and white pith.  Holding the peeled orange over a medium bowl, carefully cut between the membranes to remove the individual wedges of flesh.  Discard the core.

Juice the fourth orange: it should yield about 1/2 cup of juice.  It it comes up a little short, add a bit of the juice from the bowl of oranges segments to make up the difference.  Pour the juice into a heavy 2-qt saucepan, and add the sugar.  Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture bubbles and reduces to deep orange-golden syrup, and cook until warmed through, 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately, with wedges of vanilla bean buttermilk cake and spoonfuls of creme fraiche.  Yields: 8 servings




  1. My dear friend Martha gave me this book for my birthday a couple of years ago. She always knows my taste in books and recipes. She is my cooking buddy! This book is a fantastic read….filled with wonderful heart felt stories about the author’s life, family, and growing into womanhood. The recipes that she provides correlate with each story in the book in such a charming way. I have tried many of the recipes and love each and every one. I refer to this book’s recipes frequently and have its recipes tagged for future cooking. Thanks Molly!

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