Citrus Berry Buttermilk Cake



One of my all time favorite activities is grocery shopping. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but it is true. I could walk up and down the aisles, looking at all the different products and dreaming of what I could make with them. 

Buttermilk was one of those things that I picked up in Whole Foods on a whim, intending to test out baking with it in different desserts. Buttermilk is basically cultured milk so it is the consistency of milk, but with the tang of yogurt. 

The upside to buttermilk is you get a nice flavor, almost a bit savory, but also a more tender crumb. 

I have definitely made many a cake with just milk and the resulting cake is definitely delicious, but I will say that buttermilk just makes it better. 

So about that buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, can’t find it or don’t want to buy it, take 1 cup of whole milk (always whole) and add a teaspoon of lemon juice. Let it sit for 15 minutes. You will see the milk curdle a bit, but that is what you want. Use it right away or save it in a mason jar in the fridge for a day or two (at most). 

A few other little ingredients make this cake special. 

Orange Blossom Water

This is an ingredient that I always passed up in my grocery shopping explorations. I had had orange blossom candy once as a kid and was pretty much scarred. If you use a lot of it, the floral flavor turns into something similar to the way a perfume smells. Basically eating perfume. 

But, if you use just the right amount, the flavor that it adds is unparalleled. The light floral note that it adds to a cake makes the cake seem less sweet, but also less heavy in flavor. It gives you palate a little buzz. 

If you can’t find it (you can buy it online very easily) or don’t want to add another thing to your pantry, use orange zest. 

Olive Oil  

Olive oil is my favorite oil for cooking and baking. I like to use extra virgin with a more distinct flavor. Extra virgin olive oil has a nice fruity, but earthy flavor which is a nice alternative to the super rich buttery flavor. Not to mention it pairs so well with citrus. Oil is my preferred fat for cakes as well because it will keep your cake moist, even with a longer baking time. Butter’s moisture evaporates more quickly than oil, which can leave you with a dry cake. No one wants a dry cake. 

Extra Virgin olive oil is not always expensive. I buy mine from Whole Foods for less than $8 and it lasts. 

Shredded Coconut

I love adding shredded coconut to this cake purely for texture. This cake has a very soft crumb, which is great, but a little bit of something to break up that softness is always welcome. The shredded coconut doesn’t really lend too much flavor, but the small flakes gives a little bit of chew. Pair that coconut with some luscious berries and you get the textural variety you need and crave. 

Alright, let’s eat cake. 


1/4 cup olive oil 

1/2 cup buttermilk 

1 large egg 

1/2 cup organic cane sugar 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1 tbsp lemon zest 

1/2 tsp orange blossom water (optional, but delicious) 

1 cup gluten-free measure-for-measure flour 

3/4 tsp baking soda 

1/2 tsp flaky sea salt 

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 

3/4 cup blueberries tossed in 1 tbsp flour (optional, this cake is delicious without the berries, but why not add some fruit) 

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and line a standard loaf pan with oil and parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil, buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest and orange blossom water (if using). Whisk together until the oil is fully incorporated. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the wet ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until the flour is fully incorporated. Add the flour-coated berries and gently fold them in. 

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Give the filled pan a few good taps on the counter to remove any air bubbles. 

Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick to the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before slicing. 

This is the perfect summer dessert, topped with a little unsweetened whipped cream or runny yogurt and more berries.