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May 20, 2020

Hibiscus Buttermilk Cakes

These little hibiscus buttermilk cakes are frosted with a delicious buttercream flavored with a homemade hibiscus syrup.

2 hibiscus buttermilk cakes

The vanilla buttermilk cake is super moist, and pairs perfectly with the hibiscus buttercream.

I made these cakes in six 4-inch cake pans, which I first bought to make gingerbread baby cakes. I felt a little silly buying cake pans for one recipe, but since then I've used them a lot, especially for little celebration layer cakes such as a Mini White Chocolate Birthday Cake.

If you don't have four inch cake pans, you can instead bake 12 to 16 cupcakes, with a baking time of 18 to 25 minutes.

Plain hibiscus buttermilk cakes with frosting

For the hibiscus syrup, you will need dried hibiscus flowers. I found them online (affiliate link) at Amazon and The Spice House. You can also find them at most Mexican grocery stores.

If you can't find dried hibiscus flowers, you could substitute a pomegranate syrup or cranberry juice syrup to approximate the sweet-tart flavor of the hibiscus syrup.

Dried hibiscus packages

You can also use dried hibiscus to make agua de Jamaica by steeping the flowers in water, adding some sugar, agave, or simple syrup, and some lime juice. If it's cocktail hour, you can add some tequila blanco for a refreshing summer sip.

To make the buttermilk cakes, first line the bottoms of 6 four-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray the sides with spray oil. I used the bottom of one of the cake pans as a pattern to draw the circles.

Buttermilk cakes in pans

While the cakes are cooling, make the hibiscus syrup. Just place 4 tablespoons of the dried flowers, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a sauce pan and simmer the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, until it reaches the consistency of a light syrup.

Be sure to let the syrup cool before mixing it into the buttercream.

You will not need all of the syrup for the frosting. You can use any extra for drizzling over the cake for serving, pouring over French toast with berries, or stirring into a cocktail.

Buttermilk cakes cooling on a rack

The cakes will come out of the oven with a slight dome. It's up to you whether or not you want to slice it off with a serrated knife. If you're baking with kids, this sliced off domes are great for taste testing. Even if you're baking alone.....

Once the cakes and the syrup have cooled, it's time to make the buttercream. Once you have beaten the butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt, you beat in three tablespoons of the hibiscus syrup. This turns the frosting a sweet pink color and adds a mildly tart berry like flavor.

hibiscus syrup in a small jar with a spoon

I tried garnishing the frosting with a couple of the dried flowers, but I wasn't that thrilled with the look. You could also grind the flowers into a dust to sprinkle over the frosting if you want to get fancy.

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is The New Way To Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs.

There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes! Follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes.

If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.

The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.

Book cover

Our choices for May 2020 were ~

Chamomile Cake with Honey Crème Fraîche
Hibiscus Buttermilk Cake

Hibiscus Buttermilk cakes on plates

More tips for making these little cakes:

To make sure you have evenly divided the batter among the cake pans, first do your best to eyeball the batter as you add it. After that, weigh each pan with the batter in it, and then even it out by taking from the over filled pans and adding it to the under filled pans, and then re-weigh. If you weigh by grams, a plus or minus of about 10 grams won't make a huge difference.

I have a baker friend who weighs her mixing bowl, then re-weighs it with the batter, and then does the math. Genius!

I used an ice cream scoop to portion the frosting on the cakes. A rounded scoop of frosting was just about right in dividing the buttercream.

The recipe calls for caster sugar, but I used regular granulated sugar. I weighed it and then gave it a few spins in the food processor to grind it up a bit.

If you don't have vanilla bean paste, pure vanilla extract is fine. If you want to get the look of the flecks of vanilla in your cake, just scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean and add it to your batter along with the vanilla extract.

Buttermilk hibiscus cake slices for serving

One cake is the equivalent to two dessert servings. If you want to serve these cakes for tea, you can cut them into mini slices and serve them on little plates with tiny forks!

You could also stack the cakes to make three individual layer cakes for a more elegant look. Wouldn't that be gorgeous on a serving table?

Hibiscus Buttermilk Cakes

Hibiscus Buttermilk Cakes
Yield: 12 to 16 servings
These little hibiscus buttermilk cakes are frosted with a delicious buttercream flavored with a homemade hibiscus syrup.


For the Cakes
  • 300 grams (2 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 250 grams (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar (see tips above)
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) vanilla bean paste
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk, room temperature
For the Hibiscus Syrup
  • 20 grams (4 tablespoons) dried hibiscus flowers
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) water
For the Buttercream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 270 grams (2 cups) confectioners' sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons hibiscus sugar


To Make the Cakes
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Line 6 four-inch cake pans with parchment circles and spray the interiors with spray oil. Place them on a half sheet pan. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. 
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them in thoroughly. 
  6. Using a sieve/strainer, sift in half of the flour mixture into the mixing bowl and mix on low until just incorporated. 
  7. Beat in the buttermilk. 
  8. Sift in the the rest of the flour mixture and then beat on low until combined. 
  9. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans and bake for 22 to 25 minutes on the center rack, until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  10. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for five minutes. 
  11. Turn the cakes out of the pans and continue to cool completely on a wire rack. 
To Make the Hibiscus Syrup
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a bowl. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until syrupy but not too thick. 
  2. Cool before adding to the buttercream. 
To Make the Buttercream
  1. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides one to two times, until pale and fluffy. 
  2. Add the sugar and salt and beat for an additional 3 minutes on medium high to high, until thick and fluffy. 
  3. Beat in the milk. 
  4. Add the hibiscus syrup and beat until the buttercream is smooth and evenly pink. 
  5. Divide the buttercream among the cake tops and spread evenly. 
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cake, hibiscus
Dessert, cake
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Would you like to comment?

  1. Perfect little baby cakes. They turned out lovely Karen.

  2. Love those little round cakes!! They are SO pretty!!

  3. These are the cutest little cakes!

  4. Beautiful! I love the berry tart flavor of hibiscus tea, I have a bag of dried flowers I could put to use!

  5. Wonderful. Pretty enough for high tea!

  6. Lovely, absolutely lovely! I have those pans and I"m always searching for ways to put them to use, so that my buyer's remorse is dealt with properly

    the cakes are so beautiful, and I love hibiscus

    1. I know what you mean. I'm always looking for ways to use them too. I really should have used the fancy decorating tips I bought on a whim to decorate them....

  7. Cutest little cakes ever! Once this stay-at-home stuff is over I am definitely going to see if I can find hibiscus flowers.


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