1963 Kansas Golden Buttermilk Cake Recipe – That Gets Better By The Day!

Buttermilk Cake slice on Bavarian Plate with Cake in Background BakeThisCake

Ah, yes, 1963 was an excellent year for tender buttermilk cake that keeps on giving. And by that I mean that it GETS BETTER after the first day (even unfrosted). Yeah. Weird, huh? And, guess what? It even gets better-er after the second day! Yes, way! We tried it (a few times, actually) and it’s true!

The perfect old-fashioned cake for a lovely spring or summer day. Oh heck! It’s always amazing – no matter the weather.

Nature photo by Leslie Macchiarella for Bake This Cake

Tree at the California Club in Los Angeles

Yes, 1963 was a very good year for a number of lovelies with staying power…

…like cute salt & pepper shakers…

Vintage salt & pepper shakers 557 kb LifeForcePhotos Bake This Cake

…like adored leaders of the nation…

President John F. Kennedy, 1963 John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office, July 11, 1963

…like the nation’s favorite convenient TV dinner

Swanson TV Dinner ad in Jan 4 1963 Life Magazine

…like Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, “The Birds“, starring Tippy Hedren…

…like America’s favorite family…The Ozzie & Harriet Family

Ricky Nelson with Kristin Harmon

Stuff Going on in 1963: Postage stamps are 5 cents, zip codes hit the streets, discotheques become the rage, the “Judy Garland Sings at the Palladium,” while “Let’s Make A Deal” debuts on NBC, Peter, Paul and Mary win their 1st Grammy for “If I Had a Hammer“, the soap opera “General Hospital” is launched, The Righteous Brothers move it to the left with Harlem Shuffle, the first push-button phone rolls onto the market, John Christopher Depp II is born in Owensboro, Kentucky and Beatlemania takes the world by storm with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.

And in Wichita, Kansas, the Wichita Eagle‘s Home Town News (fka Wichita Morning Eagle) publishes the third printing of Volume II of their “Rare Recipes and Budget Savers” compiled by Frank Good, Editor of the Home Town News.

Frank Good's Inscription in Rare Recipes and Budget Savers Vol I Bake This Cake

Frank Good’s charming inscription in Rare Recipes Vol I

Frank Good collected recipes from his readers, spent 50 years writing a gardening column for Wichita newspapers, wrote many gardening books and edited a couple of great recipe books!

It was also a great year for The All American Cake — The Buttermilk Cake!

And this is where we found our lovely vintage cake recipe…

Rare Recipes and Budget Savers Vol 2 671 kb Bake This Cake

Although Frank Good passed away in 2005 at the age of 86, his memory lives on (big time) in the 3,500 volumes at the Frank Good Library much of which was donated by the Goods. It is the largest collection of horticultural and gardening advice in south-central Kansas and it is the home of the Wichita Gardens — a 9-acre botanical garden known as “Botanica“. The Botanica Gardens include an amazing array of diverse gardens: aquatic, butterfly, pansy, tropical greenhouse, juniper (with more than 30 types), peony (with 104 varieties), rock, rose (with more than 350 rose plants), woodland (with azaleas, dogwoods, elm, hackberry, honey locust, mulberry, osage orange, and redbuds), and there is even a sensory garden, a Shakespearean garden, a pine tree arboretum and a xeriscape demonstration garden! Whoa! That’s one MAJOR GARDEN!.

Wichita Botanic Gardens

Botanica Gardens at the Frank Good Library in Wichita

The Key Ingredient: This brings us to our light and lovely, moist and delicious vintage cake known as The Golden Buttermilk Cake (not to be mistaken with The Buttermilk White Cake (which uses only egg whites). Buttermilk (formerly known as sour milk) actually contains NO BUTTER (who knew?). 🙂 We’re using reduced fat (2%) cultured buttermilk for this recipe so I’m thinking you could call this a healthy cake. Maybe? Just always cut yourself a think slice (or not!).

Spring New Growth photo by Leslie Macchiarella for BakeThisCake

Spring flowers popping up at our house.

Making your own buttermilk: Although some folks add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to sour out a cup of regular milk (or even substitute plain white yogurt), I’m thinking you should go for the real deal here — just to make sure you achieve a perfect tender slice (but feel free to play around with your homemade buttermilk recipes (I LUV THAT!) and let me know how it goes). 🙂

Cake Graphic from Rare Recipes and Budget Savers Volume 2 BakeThisCake

Okay! Let’s get this buttermilk cake party started!!

Happy photo by Leslie Macchiarella for BakeThisCake

To get yourself in the mood for this vintage cake, you can listen to 10 minutes of snippets of the top songs of 1963 if you >> Click here << (Hot tip: It will play in the background in a separate window while you put on your vintage apron.) 🙂

Tools Needed for Buttermilk Cake:
2 round cake pans, 9″ diameter
Wax paper, good quality (or parchment, for lining cake pans)
Cooking spray (or butter & flour, for greasing up the cake pans)
2 small bowls (or cups, for bringing butter to room temperature & stirring eggs)
Fork (for mixing eggs)
2 Large bowls (for mixing dry ingredients & main batter)
Whisk (or fork, for mixing dry ingredients)
Spatula (for scooping and smoothing batter)
Electric mixer
Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients for Buttermilk Cake:
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
2 large fresh eggs
1-1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cultured 2% fat buttermilk (the star of the show!)

Buttermilk Cake on glass cake plate in the sun BakeThisCake

Directions for Baking Buttermilk Cake:

Place an oven rack in center position and pre-heat the oven to 350.

Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying them with cooking spray (or rubbing them with butter & dusting with flour). Lay in a circle of good-quality wax paper (or parchment) into the bottom of each cake pan, and spray them again with cooking spray. Set them aside for the big batter event coming up shortly.

Cake Pans Prepared with Wax Paper and Cooking Spray Bake This Cake

Nuke 1/2 cup of unsalted butter in the microwave in 10 seconds to bring the butter to room temperature.
Tip: The butter should be soft to the touch but hold its shape and not be melty.

Stick of room temp butter for Buttermilk Cake BakeThisCake

Bring 2 large fresh eggs to room temperature by setting them out on the counter for about 20 minutes (or placing them inside a warm bowl of water for about 5 minutes).
Tip: This cake will be fluffier when you use room temperature eggs. Ask a scientist type — it’s true. 🙂

Two eggs for Buttermilk Cake BakeThisCake

Using an electric mixer, beat on high-speed for about 3 minutes until it becomes fluffy:
the prepared (room temp) butter

Creamed Butter Bake This Cake

Beat into the creamed butter on high-speed for about 2 minutes until fluffy:
1-1/2 cups granulated white sugar

Creamed Butter for Buttermilk Cake BakeThisCake

Measure into a bowl and whisk to fully incorporate:
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Dry Ingredients for Buttermilk Cake BakeThisCake

Measure out and prepare to use:
1 cup cultured 2% fat buttermilk

Cup of Buttermilk for Buttermilk Cake BakeThisCake

With the electric mixer on low-speed, add into the creamed butter-sugar in alternating one-third parts:
the measured-out buttermilk
the mixed dry ingredients
Tip: Even though I have used dried cultured buttermilk for cake baking many times, since this is a buttermilk cake, I recommend using the real deal here. 🙂
Double Tip: Just pour a little buttermilk, dribble in a little flour mixture and repeat a couple of times until all is well-blended. No need to fret over portioning out the one-third quantities.

Adding flour and milk alternately to Buttermilk Cake BakeThisCake

When the buttermilk and dry ingredients are completely incorporated into the batter, blend the batter on medium-speed for about 1 minute.

Buttermilk Cake Batter Bake This Cake

The batter will be fairly smooth and thick.

Creamy Batter for Buttermilk Cake with a spatula Bake This Cake

Crack the room temperature eggs into a small bowl or cup and thoroughly blend the eggs using a fork.

With the electric mixer on low-speed, slowly dribble into the batter and beat on medium-speed for about 1 minute:
the fork-blended eggs

Slowly dribble beaten eggs into the cake batter Bake This Cake

The batter will become glistening and shiny. whoo hoo!!
Tip: I DOUBLE DARE YOU to try not to test this lovely batter (since they say you shouldn’t sample batter with raw eggs).
Double tip: If the batter tastes awesome, the cake is gonna taste awesome! 🙂

Final Buttermilk Cake Batter Bake This Cake

Interlude: We tried to weigh the batter to get the batter evenly divided between the pans (but it didn’t work — cause I haven’t read the instructions yet. Duh! But more on this in an upcoming blog post about temperature reading baking tools (after I get my instructions down). 🙂

Weighing buttermilk cake batter in pans for even distribution BakeThisCake

Here is the batter (somewhat evenly) distributed between the prepared cake pans. (I never get it quite right but, since this is a vintage cake, that’s the way we want it anyhow — looking imperfect, homemade and yummy.) 🙂

Buttermilk Cake Batter in the pans Bake This Cake

Place the pans in the pre-heated oven and bake at 350 for about 25 to 30 minutes until the toothpick tester comes out clean.

Note: We don’t recommend a baking thermometer for this cake (unless you are an expert with your thermometer and it has a very fine prong) because this cake is quite delicate (and we are not planning to frost the cake) so there would be a hole left by the baking probe that will show at serving time — and we don’t want to mar our lovely old-fashioned cake with a spike hole. 🙂

The cake will rise in the oven a little over the top of the pans, but as the cakes bake fully, the cakes will sink down a bit in the pan.

Buttermilk Cakes in the oven by Bake This Cake

The cakes will transform to a golden brown color and will separate from the sides of the pan when they are done.

Cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes before turning them out on a rack to cool. This is where the wax paper on the bottom of the pans prevents any worrisome sticking issues.

Buttermilk Cakes hot from the oven Bake This Cake

We are not going to flip the cake on the cake platter so be sure the tops of the cakes stay upright during cooling.

Buttermilk Cake Cooling on an Orange Plate BakeThisCake

Buttermilk Filling (Not Frosting): This is the recipe for filling the cake, without frosting the tops and sides of the cake. If you want to frost the outer cake then double this Buttermilk Filling Recipe, then use half for the cake filling and, to remaining one-half of the prepared recipe, blend in 2 cups of fresh whipped cream (plus a little extra powdered sugar to taste).

Tools Needed for Buttermilk Filling:
Medium Mixing Bowl
Electric Mixer
Spatula (for scooping and spreading)
Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients for Buttermilk Filling (Not Frosting*):
1/4 cube (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
*For frosting the entire cake: Add 2 cups heavy cream (pre-whipped)

Directions for Buttermilk Cake Filling:

Nuke in the microwave for a few seconds to bring to room temperature:
1/4 cube (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

Using an electric mixer, blend on high speed to fluff (about 1 minute):
the room temperature butter

Dribble into the whipped butter in alternating quantities:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
Tip: Sifted powdered sugar is best to prevent little lumps, but I’m lazy and it still seems to work fine) 🙂

Beat all on high for about 3 minutes until nice and fluffy.
Tip: You may need to add a few drops more buttermilk or a few tablespoons more powdered sugar to get it to your favored consistency.

This is the filling thoroughly blended…

Buttercream Filling in bowl Bake This Cake

The filling is creamy and lightly stiff.

Buttermilk Filling Frosting on a spatula BakeThisCake

We had to rush this cake at the last-minute (teen testers’ schedule) so we actually frosted this cake while it was slightly warm. My grandma would have called this a “hot-frosted cake”. I thought it would be ruined but, instead, it was awesome! The cake was lightly warm so some of the filling soaked in just a bit. On the other hand, for you, I recommend waiting until the cake is fully cooled. 🙂

Hot-frosted Buttermilk Cake BakeThisCake

The “hot-frosted” cake…

Buttermilk Cake unfrosted blue background by BakeThisCake

You could leave the cake top absolutely plain or…just for looks (and it does look cute), dust a tiny bit of powdered sugar on the top of the cake for a vintage cake look.

Buttermilk Cake dusted with powdered sugar BakeThisCake

This buttermilk cake is an amazing taste treat. It just reminds me of all those old-fashioned goodness-y things that should be much more common these days. 🙂

Buttermilk Cake slice on Bavarian Plate with Crochet BakeThisCake

Leave the cake in a covered cake holder (or under a big bowl) on the counter for a day (or even two days) and the cake will become even more delicate and moist.

Buttermilk Cake on Dining Room Table on Glass Platter Bake This Cake

Let’s get in for a nice close-up of the light and delicate texture of this amazing buttermilk cake, shall we? Did I say tender? Oh yeah, I think I did. 😀

Buttermilk Cake Slice showing sprinkled top of cake slice Bake This Cake

Serve it with a tall glass of chilled milk, a fine glass of champagne or even a lovely cuppa tea!

Cup of tea photo by Leslie Macchiarella for Bake This Cake

Happy baking to you and your family! And thank you for joining us!

Don’t forget to join us on Facebook, on Twitter and on Pinterest! You can see recipes in the testing stages as we go along. 🙂


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18 thoughts on “1963 Kansas Golden Buttermilk Cake Recipe – That Gets Better By The Day!

    • Yes this great little vintage buttermilk cake calls for 1 cup cultured 2% fat buttermilk, however, I have made it with whole buttermilk in the past. As I recall, I baked the cake a little bit longer because of the higher fat content. Perhaps you might use a temperature test to be sure the cake is not “damp” in the middle. Happy vintage cake baking.

  1. I found your delightful post, searching for a frosting recipe to use up some excess buttermilk to fill a choc cake.
    Choc cake microwave made & frozen for choir rehearsal refreshments – which behaviour is about as non-vintage as one can get 😉 but I appreciate your fantastic research!

    • Thank you for checking out the vintage buttermilk cake. When you find some time to bake it, I hope you enjoy it. But choir practice always comes first so kudos you you on that. It holds better than day one on following days as the buttermilk flavor sort of cures in the cake. Cheers, Leslie

  2. Please I just discovered your page and I like your recipes… I live in France so I use metric measurement…thanks.

  3. Pingback: Honey Ginger Spice Cake – Rustica, Streusel-Topped or Muffin Style | Bake This Cake!

  4. Looks very delicious. I make a yogurt cake that also gets better when it sits for a day or two. I wonder if it’s the acid? I’m going to try this one. See you in a few weeks at Camp Blogaway!

    • Hi, Adrian, Thanks for stopping by! You know I think this cake could do cupcakes but I should test it out before I say for sure. It is such a delicate cake but it does have a soft crust that might hold cupcakes well. 🙂

  5. Being from Iowa and born in ’62 made this post very nostalgic for me! I know… close only counts in horseshoes! I love the walk down memory lane and the cake looks divine. It would appear (forgive my ignorance) that most vintage cakes were not frosted. Do you know when frosting cakes became fashionable?

    • Hey Cathy, Yes, 62 was another great year!! 😀 Vintage takes in a long period of time but yes cakes were frosted all through this Century, even in the Old English days with strange concoctions whipped with feathers (or baker’s hands). haha! But when the cake is quite flavorful or when the cost is high, there goes the frosting. 😀

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