foodFood & Drink

In the Kitchen With: The Salted Table’s Espresso Buttermilk Cake

by Kristina Gill

Kristina 7

Over the past few months, we have been wooed by the delicious images on Charles Hunter III’s Instagram feed under the name of The Salted Table. The Sunday breakfast pictures of biscuits, pancakes, sticky buns and more are my favorite. This week, Charles is sharing his recipe for a Triple Layer Espresso Buttermilk Cake with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream. This cake is a show-stopper — try it the next time you’re baking a cake for a friend’s birthday! —Kristina

Why Charles loves this recipe: If a dessert involves coffee, it is usually a win for me. I love desserts with unlikely subtle flavor pairings that surprise you after the first bite, and I feel like this is one of those desserts. I also try to incorporate a little southern influence into my creations because I was born and raised in the south, and I love foods that feel like a warm hug from someone who loves you. This cake is perfect for autumn and winter, but I wouldn’t blame you for making it in the spring or summer… because, dessert.


Photography by Charles Hunter III | Portrait by Michele Ann Photography


Triple Layer Espresso Buttermilk Cake with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream

For Cake:

– 8 eggs (room temperature)
– 4 cups sugar
– 2 cups whole fat buttermilk
– 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
– 4 teaspoons vanilla extract (I prefer Nielsen Massey)
– 5 cups all-purpose flour
– 3 teaspoons kosher salt
– 4 tablespoons fine ground espresso (I prefer Café Du Monde)
– 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream

– 3 cups powdered sugar
– 2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– ¼ c. Jack Daniel’s Honey (1/2 cup reduced by half, chilled)
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Make the buttercream: Place butter into a mixing bowl and whip it until it is light and airy, about 12 minutes. The color will be almost white and shiny. Add in the powdered sugar by the heaping spoonfuls while whipping on a lower speed until incorporated. Then add vanilla, honey, and salt. Set aside.

Make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease three 8-inch baking pans.

Combine eggs and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Fold in buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to mixture. Set aside.

Combine flour, salt, espresso and baking powder. Add heaping spoonfuls of flour mixture into the wet mixture until completely combined. Do not over mix. The batter should leave light ribbons across the top of the batter when dropped from a spoon.

Evenly pour the batter into the greased baking pans. Place them in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove pans from the oven, turn onto a baking rack and allow the cakes to cool completely. Once cake is cooled, place a dollop of frosting on the bottom of the cake plate. Place your first cake in the center of the plate. Divide the buttercream into three equal portions. Spread the buttercream evenly over each layer, leaving a ¼-inch margin at the edge of the cake. This will allow space for the buttercream to spread as you place the next layers on top. Repeat this process with the remaining layers. Enjoy!


About Charles: Charles is a personal chef, blogger, recipe developer, and supper club host in Nashville, TN where he shares his passion for all things culinary on his website The Salted Table, an online journal about food, life and local. His work has appeared in The Local Palate Magazine, The Kitchn, The Tennessean, Dyer & Jenkins, and more. When he’s not preparing meals for his clients or the patrons who gather around at his Salted Table Gathering Pop-Ups, he can found nesting in an extensive cookbook collection or in a local coffee shop. Follow Charles on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.


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