Hibiscus Buttermilk Cake

March 21, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by ButterSugarFlowers
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • makes a two layer 8" cake
Author Notes

One day, I felt compelled to toss my beloved dried hibiscus flowers into a blade grinder, powdering them into a flour-like form perfect for baking. This beautifully-hued, tender and tangy cake was the winning result. It truly delivers the flowers' distinctive flavor, and does so in a lusciously moist crumb thanks in part to the buttermilk batter. While balanced with a generous splash of warm vanilla, the hibiscus is paired with silky cream cheese frosting and a bit of subtle Meyer lemon (orange would be divine, too!), culminating in a punchy, bright, and satisfying dessert. It's been a longtime fan favorite on my baking blog, —ButterSugarFlowers

What You'll Need
  • Cake batter
  • 2 medium-large lemons, preferably Meyer
  • 2 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as sunflower or canola
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2.5 ounces (71 grams) powdered hibiscus petals (about a scant ½ cup)
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Frosting
  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon hibiscus powder (optional for pale pink color)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar, well packed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • remaining lemon zest from cake recipe
  • a few dried or fresh hibiscus flower petals for decorating (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease insides of two 8” cake pans, and line bottoms of pans with parchment; set aside. Rinse and dry the lemons. Finely zest the outer lemon peel; set zest aside. Juice the lemons until you have 1/3 cup lemon juice, strained; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until smooth and even. Sift over the bowl: flour, hibiscus powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Begin to beat, gradually adding the 1/3 cup lemon juice and the buttermilk, stopping to scrape the bottom of bowl with a spatula. Mix until just smooth. Fold in about half of the lemon zest, stirring until dispersed. (Reserve remaining zest for frosting.)
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans equally. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until fragrant and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out batter-free; a few moist crumbs are OK. Let cakes cool completely in pans before removing (loosen sides with a butter knife, invert cake, and remove parchment).
  4. With completely cool cake layers, slather one layer with cream cheese frosting and top with the other layer. Frost the top, and then the sides if you wish. Decorate with hibiscus petals if desired. Slice and enjoy!

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