Salt-kissed Buttermilk Cake

I know I’ve just come from a post that extolled the wonders of my favourite tropical fruit, now in its resplendent season. I also know that it’s best to buy in season, and locally. But sometimes a girl just can’t wait, nor can she travel to wherever raspberries grow.

So I’ve gone and been naughty and bought frozen raspberries.

Listen first and scold me later!

You see, this didn’t start with frozen raspberries, although I have seen them for a while and have been sorely tempted (we sometimes get fresh too but they are likewise imported and quite pricey). This actually started with this. Another recipe from the fabulous Heidi of 101 Cookbooks who makes healthy food look like the superstars they truly are. Salt-kissed Buttermilk Cake. The name alone sounds instantly charming. But that wasn’t the only thing that drew me to her post.

Reading through it she mentions the finishing salt she uses, a salt which her salt-geek friend refers to as “an exaggerated version of the classic fleur de sel Brittany sea salt widely used in fine cooking, with lush almost billowy crystals that provide a sensuous crunch.” Do you know where this wondrous salt is found? Here! Yes, here in the Philippines! It’s called Pangasinan Star sea salt and is also hailed as “Ilocano Asin Philippine fleur de sel sea salt”. Could this be the same (or similar) to the sea salt I lugged back from Ilocos? I had never heard of this salt before but you can be sure I will be on the hunt for it here! If anyone knows of purveyors in Manila please drop me a line!

At this point I was into the cake and into the salt and just lost in the blissful haven of Heidi’s blog as what usually happens when I am there. It was time to focus and I was determined to replicate that cake.

Fortuitously, I knew just where to get fresh, local, buttermilk – not just any buttermilk, but buttermilk made from carabao’s milk (a carabao is our native water buffalo whose milk has a higher fat content than cow’s milk)!

The next ingredient I had to find was whole wheat pastry flour, which I easily located at a nearby health food shop (where I get all my grains too) care of Bob’s Red Mill.

Local buttermilk, local salt, imported flour, and imported berries – I’ll call that even and will let this one slip by :)

You can find the original recipe here along with pretty pictures that will make you want to bake this cake right now. I followed it to the letter using the frozen raspberries I so sneakily bought. This is the first time I’ve baked with whole wheat pastry flour (not including bread using whole wheat flour) and I was curious to see how it would come out. I brought it to my mom’s for dessert and the vote was split 3 to 2. My mom, grandmother, and I enjoyed the cake – its soft buttermilk crumb, the earthy whole wheat taste, the not-overly-sweet cake, and the tart tang of the raspberries. C and my brother seemed a bit uncertain – which I think stems from the whole wheat-y-ness of it which caught them a tad off guard. I did like it though and next time, I will try making it while half whole wheat pastry flour and half AP to see if the boys can be changed in their opinion :) I’m also thinking of being better behaved and actually using fruits in season instead of the raspberries. Mangoes would be a good choice but I am reluctant to bake with mangoes as I much prefer them fresh. Maybe pineapple? This cake is also good for breakfast the next day – I toast a slice and put a bit of butter on it...siiigh, still naughty! :)

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! If you are under the Philippine sun please don’t forget your shoulders are stinging from my negligence (naughty again!)!