Kentucky Butter Cake is a classic dessert that has been enjoyed by generations of Southerners. This rich, buttery cake is made with simple ingredients but packs a delicious punch. It’s perfect for special occasions, potlucks, or simply as a treat to enjoy at home.
After one bite of this old-fashioned vanilla butter cake, you’ll understand how it won the 1963 winner of Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest. Of course, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that this Kentucky butter cake was drenched in a butter-rum sauce.
With my step-by-step images and easy-to-follow instructions, I know you’ll agree that my Kentucky Butter Cake recipe is the best on the internet!
If you love buttery cakes, make sure to try my Pineapple Butter Cake.
Ingredients to make Kentucky Butter Cake
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make Kentucky Butter Cake. In Chef Speak, this is called the “Mise en Place,” which translates to “Everything in its Place.”
Not only does setting up your ingredients ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
These are the spatulas I use in my kitchen. They are durable, heat resistant and easy to keep clean.
How to make Kentucky Butter Cake
- Preheat the oven to 325 F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.
- Grease and flour a bundt pan. Set aside until needed.
- Add the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or an electric hand mixer with a large bowl).
- Add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla to a large bowl and mix together until well combined.
- Add the butter and half of the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients.
- Mix on low speed for one minute, just enough to mix the ingredients together. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the rest of the buttermilk mixture. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue whipping the mixture for 3 minutes. The finished batter will be creamy and pale. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
How to make Butter Rum Syrup
- Add the butter, granulated sugar, water, vanilla, and rum (or rum extract) to a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Bring the mixture to a light boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sugar is dissolved (1-2 minutes).
*I prefer dark rum to make this glaze, but white rum will work. You can use spiced rum, but it will change the flavor.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Place the cake pan on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack (still in the pan) to cool for 10 minutes.
- After ten minutes, use a wooden skewer to poke holes in the bottom of the cake. Go about three-quarters of the way down with the skewer.
- Continue until you have made 35- 40 holes.
- Spoon the sweet buttery sauce over the bottom of the cake so that it seeps down into the holes you poked in the cake. If the syrup is pooling on the surface, poke more holes in the cake so that it absorbs the syrup.
- Let the Kentucky butter cake cool for about 30 minutes. *Reserve about one-third of a cup of the butter syrup to brush the outside of the cake.
- Place a serving plate over the cake pan to invert cake, then remove the pan.
- Brush the outside of the cake with the reserved butter rum syrup and any syrup that oozes out onto the serving plate.
This old-fashioned Kentucky Butter Cake is best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. Its rich, buttery flavor and moist texture make it a crowd-pleaser that everyone will love. Give this recipe a try and see for yourself why it has been a Southern favorite for generations!
Butter cakes (aka creamed cakes) have a lighter texture and greater volume than pound cakes. Pound cakes are denser and were called pound cakes because, traditionally, they were made with one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour.
To make Kentucky Butter Cake that is moist, it’s important to use the right amount of ingredients and not overmix the batter. Also, adding buttermilk to the batter helps to keep the cake moist. Finally, pouring the glaze over the warm cake helps to seal in moisture and adds extra flavor.
No, you can make Kentucky Butter Cake in different pans. You can use a 9×13-inch baking pan or two 9-inch round cake pans. However, you will need to adjust the baking time accordingly.