Heavenly Vanilla Bean and Buttermilk Cake

Ah to be back in the kitchen!!  Although 2012 didn’t involve much baking in my kitchen, I certainly had a bun in the oven!  After nine months of vegemite sandwiches, dry cereal, toast and crackers I am very overjoyed, happy and proud to introduce our beautiful little baby girl, Graziella.  And I feel so fantastic to see the return of my appetite and to be back in my lovely kitchen!

Even now I still find it incredibly difficult to believe that I went nine months repulsed by food.  My one life obsession gone!  To say I felt lost is a complete understatement.  My usual days filled with baking, shopping for food, reading recipes and planning menus were replaced with an uneasy, queasy, seasick feeling that left me snuggled on the couch cuddling my new friend...a bucket.  Yeah sure I had been in this place before, however it was usually a result of a wine fun filled evening.  At the beginning I felt incredibly ripped off but as time passed and I grew into a whale glowing pregnant woman I realised the sacrifice was well worth it. 

With the return of my appetite and a whole lot of time to make up for, my enthusiasm for cooking is a little out of control.  My dreams these days are once again filled with gleaming ideas of heavenly sponge, delightful biscotti, dreamy creamy trifle and summer fruit crumbles and believe me, one teeny tiny absolutely gorgeous new born is not going to slow me down. 

And with that being said I return with a heavenly vanilla bean and buttermilk cake.  Ahh, it’s the simple things in life that truly make us happy...a sneaky smile from a cheeky little baby girl and wafts of vanilla bean cake drifting from the kitchen.

This cake truly deserved to break my baking drought.  Wonderfully simple, yet utterly divine, this cake (like many others) starts by creaming butter and sugar however, it’s the addition of a scraped vanilla bean and fresh lemon zest that takes this cakey creation to a wonderful new level of deliciousness.  Vanilla bean and lemon zest are classic flavours and for good reason, not only are they delicious but they somehow evoke nostalgic childhood baking memories.

Pulling the cake from the oven with a lovely baby girl nestled on my front in her baby bjorn (baby carrier for those not yet versed in baby stuff talk) I felt an incredible rush of that amazing feeling of returning home.  I guess Dorothy was right; there really is no place like home and for me that’s with my family and in the kitchenJ 

Heavenly Vanilla Bean and Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller, October 2011

250gm butter, softened
1 ½ cups caster sugar
3 eggs
1 Vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 Lemon, zested
2 cups of plain flour, sieved
1 cups of self raising flour, sieved
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, sieved
350ml buttermilk
250gm butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Preheat oven to 160C. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla seeds and lemon rind.   Sieve flours and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl with a pinch of salt and with mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk. Repeat, then spoon mixture into a buttered 22cm x 32cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Smooth top, then bake until cake is golden and an inserted skewer withdraws clean (35-45 minutes). Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack and cool completely.
For the icing, place butter in a mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until light and creamy, slowly add icing sugar and vanilla bean and beat until very light and fluffy.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk.  When the cake is completely cooled, cover with icing.  Serve with sliced peaches.

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