If you like pound cake, to say you’re going to love Kentucky Butter Cake would be a serious understatement. This Southern dessert is famous for its light, fluffy texture and an irresistible moist crumb, mostly thanks to that signature sweet, buttery glaze.
Once this bundt cake comes out of the oven, holes are poked all across the bottom and the glaze is poured over, drenching every single crumb in delicious buttery goodness. As it begins to cool, the interior stays saturated, while the exterior sets up and forms a glorious crunchy, sugar crust.
This cake is all things decadent, to-die-for deliciousness, and as far as vanilla-flavored anything goes, it just doesn’t get better than this.
You’ll find it is just as delicious the next day (and the next), making it the perfect make-ahead dessert and a stellar recipe for easy entertaining! Love pound cake? Bookmark this über flavorful, breakfast treat favorite, Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake, for your next baking extravaganza!
WHAT IS KENTUCKY BUTTER CAKE?
Kentucky Butter Cake is an American cake that is (at its core) a vanilla pound cake baked in a bundt pan. However, this isn’t just any pound cake.
This cake comes equipped with a fine, soft crumb on the inside and a crisp, sugar crust on the outside. It comes decadently drenched in a sweet vanilla-butter glaze and it is pure heaven on a serving dish.
HOW TO MAKE KENTUCKY BUTTER CAKE
- Prep the pan.
- Sift the flour and mix the dry ingredients.
- Cream the butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs and vanilla to the creamed mixture.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the wet ingredients.
- Bake at 350°F for about 50 minutes.
- Make the glaze on the stovetop.
- Poke holes across the cake and pour over the glaze.
- Allow the cake to cool 30 minutes more. Then, invert onto a serving dish and pour the remaining glaze over the top.
1. PREP THE PAN | THIS IS IMPORTANT STUFF
When it comes to bundt cakes — the pan prep matters. Because in order to eat the cake, you first must get it out of the pan. Taking the extra time to prepare the pan pays off.
To properly prepare a bundt cake pan, you will need to generously (and I mean generously) grease it with room temperature or softened butter. Once all of the nooks and crannies are well-oiled, add in a tablespoon or two of flour and knock it around until it is evenly coated in a light dusting. Lastly, turn the pan over and knock out the excess.
2. SIFT AND MIX
Sifting aerates flour. Aerated flour is lighter and makes a legitimate difference when it comes to the texture of your cake. Point of the story? Sift the all-purpose flour.
Once your flour is sifted into the mixing bowl, add the other dry ingredients — baking powder (not to be confused with baking soda) and fine sea salt.
You may be wondering why you can’t just throw all the dry ingredients in the sifter (or sieve) and call it a day. This is because these tools don’t necessarily ensure even distribution of all of the elements. For best results, sift and whisk.
3. CREAM THE BUTTER AND SUGAR
You want a light and fluffy Kentucky Butter Cake, don’t you? Creaming the butter and sugar will help you get there. In the process of “creaming,” sugar aerates the butter by filling it with tiny, little bubbles. The more bubbles, the finer the crumb and therefore, the lighter the cake.
HOW TO DO IT
First of all, make sure your butter is room temperature. This means that it is by no means melty, but can be easily indented with a gentle poke of your finger.
Then, mix the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, until it has visibly lightened in color, and appears light and fluffy in texture.
4. ADD THE EGGS AND VANILLA
Kentucky Butter Cake is a pound cake, so you can bet your bottom dollar there are going to be eggs for days. Well, actually, there are just four large eggs. But, still.
Below, are things to keep in mind when incorporating those eggs:
- It’s always best if your eggs are at room temperature.
- Add them one at a time.
- And, make sure you mix well after each addition.
So! Add your eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, and then after you’ve got them good and mixed in, add the vanilla extract, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and give everything a good, solid mix once more.
5. ADD DRY INGREDIENTS AND BUTTERMILK
With the mixer on low (this ensures we don’t overdevelop the gluten) add the dry ingredients into the wet mix, alternating with the buttermilk. You’ll add the dry ingredients in three additions, and the buttermilk in two.
Then, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix once more to ensure everything is evenly incorporated.
Make sure your oven is properly preheated to 350°F and that a rack is placed directly in the center before you bake the cake.
Place the Kentucky Butter Cake in the center of the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes. Begin checking your cake at the 50-minute mark for doneness.
To determine if it is done, insert a toothpick into the center-most, thickest part of the cake. If it comes out clean or with a few crumbs clinging to it, it’s done!
7. MAKE THE GLAZE
Once the cake is baked, transfer it to a cooling rack and it’s time to make that sweet butter glaze. Yes, please.
The glaze is probably the easiest part of this whole recipe. Simply add sugar, butter, water, and salt to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. You want the mixture to gently simmer, but not boil — we’re not trying to make caramel here, folks. If needed, reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a simmer.
Let the mixture go for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until it appears a little sticky and slightly thickened.
8. GLAZE THE CAKE
Grab a long, wooden skewer and poke the cake all over, spacing each hole about 3/4″ – 1″ apart from one another. Slowly pour about two-thirds of the glaze across the bottom of the cake, stopping as needed and allowing it to absorb into the crumb of the Kentucky Butter Cake as you go.
This step should be done while your cake is still warm.
9. COOL AND GLAZE SOME MORE
Set the cake aside and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes more. Then, grab your favorite serving dish and carefully invert the cake onto it. Use a pastry brush to add the remaining glaze to the top of the cake (or just spoon it right over).
WHAT TO SERVE WITH IT
- A Dusting of Powdered Sugar
- Whipped Cream
- Fresh Berries | Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- Salted Caramel Sauce
TIPS FOR MAKING KENTUCKY BUTTER CAKE
- A light-colored bundt pan works best to keep the cake’s exterior from over-browning.
- Take the time to properly butter and flour the pan.
- Make sure your oven has had plenty of time to preheat.
- Sift the flour — it’ll lighten up the cake!
- Don’t skimp out on the creaming. Properly mixing the butter and the sugar makes for a Kentucky Butter Cake with a seriously delicious light and fluffy texture.
- Use room temperature eggs and make sure you mix well after each one is added.
- Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl when mixing to make sure everything is evenly incorporating into the batter!
- After the dry ingredients go, don’t turn the dial past “low.” Overmixing can result in a tough cake.
5 MORE CAKE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Kit Kat Cake
- Tiramisu Cake
- Apple Crumble Cake
- Perfect Chocolate Pound Cake
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
The best recipe for a deliciously moist Kentucky Butter Cake with a sweet vanilla-butter glaze a light and tender crumb, and a crunchy, sugary crust!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature or slightly softened)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs (preferably room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have a rack centered in the oven. Generously grease a 10-cup capacity bundt pan and dust with flour. Knock out any excess and set aside.
Sift the flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then, whisk in the baking powder and sea salt over a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. If you do not have a stand mixer, use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer. Beat on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, until visibly lightened in color and fluffy. Scrape the side of the bowl and mix once more.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, taking care to mix well after each addition. Add the vanilla, scrape the side of the bowl and mix once more.
Mixing on low, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in three additions to the wet batter. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix once more.
Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and make the glaze.
To make the glaze, add all of the glaze ingredients to a small saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5-6 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil -- reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
Poke holes about 3/4" from one another into the cake using a skewer (or another tool similar in size). Slowly pour about 2/3's of the glaze evenly over the cake, stopping as needed to give the glaze time to absorb.
Set aside for about 30 minutes, allowing the cake to further cool and the glaze to evenly distribute throughout the cake.
If necessary, place the remaining syrup in the pan back over medium-heat to return it liquid form. Carefully invert the cake onto your serving dish and using a pastry brush, brush with remaining syrup. Serve and enjoy!