This Southern Kentucky Butter Cake is unlike any other. With a unique twist of nutty rich browned butter flavor, this moist and decadent pound cake recipe is set apart from any others you will find online. With buttery flavor like my Ooey Gooey Butter Cake recipe with a wonderful texture like my Sock It To Me Cake or my Sour Cream Pound Cake, you will fall in love with this Southern Classic!!
If you take a deep dive into the Grandbaby Cakes archive of recipes you’ll find a trend that runs through each one of my cakes. Most begin with one incredible resource that can be found in almost any kitchen: butter. I’m talking about creamy, melt in your mouth, somewhat sweet and always totally fresh butter. Arguably the most versatile ingredient, butter can be used as a spread, melted down for sauces or creamed with sugar for airy frostings. I can’t recall if there was ever a time that I opened my refrigerator and it lacked butter. It’s a key player in everything I make, and my recipes are better for it. I can thank my Big Mama for that.
As most of you know, pound cakes like my Cream Cheese Pound Cake or Lemon Pound Cake made in my Big Mama’s kitchen are highlights of my childhood. We belly laughed while mixing batters and licking spatulas we used to scrape bowls until they were sparkling clean. Those memories mean everything to me, and the recipes we used are ones I still make on a regular basis. Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite cake recipes with a small twist that is sure to wow: A Kentucky Butter Cake Recipe.
What is Kentucky Butter Cake?
Butter cakes originated from the English pound cake, which traditionally used equal parts butter, flour, sugar and eggs to bake a heavy, rich cake. Over time both butter based cakes and pound cakes have become quintessential cakes in Southern American baking. My household saw more than its fair share of these cakes but Kentucky Butter Cake was a popular one.
How to Make a Rich Butter Cake Recipe?
This recipe produces a CRAZY moist, buttery cake coated with a sweet buttery sauce that crusts the outside and soaks into the cake making it amazing for days.
What makes this recipe different is the use of brown butter rather than the traditional cubed butter at room temperature. Nutty, rich and flavorful, brown butter adds a depth of flavor that you wouldn’t believe. Even the color of your cake will be deeper and absolutely stunning.
Here’s how it all goes down. In a small saucepan, add butter and melt over medium heat. Once melted, a white foam will begin to appear over the top of the butter. You’ll know your butter is ready when it becomes amber brown and wonderfully fragrant then you will allow to cool.
The cooling process can take a few hours so I suggest making your butter the night before. Even if that is not possible for you, I can’t stress enough that your butter needs to be completely cool. Using brown butter that is still warm will change the texture of the cake. You’ll end up with a dense, not fully risen and eventually hardened cake that won’t last through dinner.
From there it’s pretty much smooth sailing. In your mixer bowl, add butter and shortening and beat for two minutes on high speed. Slowly add in sugar beat on high speed until very pale yellow and fluffy. Add your eggs in one at a time, making sure to scrape the sides as needed to fully incorporate them.
Next, turn your mixer down to its lowest speed and slowly add in your dry ingredients. Last but not least, pour in your buttermilk and vanilla extract and mix just until everything is combined. Be sure not to overmix your batter! You want your batter to remain light so that the end result is a fluffy, well-risen cake.
What I’m gonna tell you next is very important so listen up. Before you pour the batter into your bundt pan it is essential that your properly grease the pan. I have a great recipe for a non stick solution in my cookbook here. I’m talking about a very generous spread of non-stick baking spray. Get every nook and cranny because these cakes have a nasty habit of sticking in all the places they shouldn’t. Being thorough with the spray is the difference between a visually stunning cake and a cake that resembles a mountain range. You’ll be scraping cake bits off your pan for days.
How to Make a Kentucky Butter Cake Recipe Glaze
While your cake is baking, you’ve gotta make that sweet brown butter glaze that is going to take your cake from good to unbelievable. It comes together simply and with ease. Poke several holes all over your cake and pour the glaze all over the cake so it seeps in and distributes all through the cake.
By the end you’re left with a cake that is beyond moist on the inside with a crackly, buttery crust on the outside. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
A quick tip for serving, this cake gets better with age so there’s no shame in making this recipe ahead of time. Allowing the glaze to truly settle in and the crust to form will make for a better cake. Or you could cut a fresh a slice for yourself and another the next day too. Call it “taste testing” and see for yourself.
Also if you want more buttery goodness, check out these recipes:
- Southern Tea Cakes start with decadent butter and taste fantastic!
- My Caramel Cake is the most delicious recipe ever, and there is plenty of butter!
Kentucky Butter Cake Recipe
- Stand mixer
- Bundt Pan
For the Cake
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp shortening or oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the Brown Butter Glaze
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the Cake
- In a small saucepan, add butter and melt over medium heat. Once the butter has fully melted, a white foam will begin to appear over the top of the butter.
- Watch carefully as the butter’s color changes to brown and the smell of the butter becomes somewhat nutty.
- As soon as the butter is an amber brown color, remove from heat and cool in the refrigerator until it the butter has become solid again (can take 1-2 hours so I sometimes do this the night before baking the cake).
- Once butter is solid, preheat oven to 325 degrees then liberally spray 10 cup bundt pan with non-stick baking spray.
- In your mixer bowl, add butter and shortening and beat for 2 minutes on high speed. Slowly add in sugar beat on high speed for an additional seven minutes until very pale yellow and fluffy.
- Next, add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition and scraping down the sides as needed.
- Turn your mixer down to its lowest speed, and slowly add flour into batter in two increments then add salt, baking powder and baking soda. Be careful not to overbeat.
- Lastly, pour in buttermilk and vanilla extract, scrape down sides and mix until just combined and turn off mixer.
- Add batter to prepared cake pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out mostly clean but still moist.
- Cool for 10 minutes then invert cake onto serving plate.
For the Brown Butter Glaze
- While cake cools, add butter to saucepan and again melt then brown until the butter turns an amber color.
- Turn off heat and whisk in sugar, water and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Poke warm cake with a toothpick or skewer in several places all over the cake then pour glaze over cake, allowing it to seep in.