Kentucky Butter Cake. Proudly Clogging Arteries Since 1963.

Cake, Desserts, Southern / Tuesday, January 27th, 2009


Kentucky Butter Cake is a cake for grown-ups. It doesn’t have sprinkles. It doesn’t have frosting.

It isn’t cute.

But, Baby, this cake has flavor for days. You expect a butter cake to be buttery, but this one goes above and beyond with the real draw: its glaze. This magical glaze (made of, yes, more butter, more sugar and more vanilla or rum extract) is poured into holes poked in the cooling cake, so you don’t see any hint of it from the outside. But when you take that first bite, it’s the best kind of surprise – moist, buttery and sweet. The taste of an old-fashioned cake with a swing in its hips.

Perfect for sharing, unless you’re interested in getting a stent.

Kentucky Butter Cake

Adapted from Nell Lewis, Bake-Off® Contest winner, 1963

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or rum extract

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or rum extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch bundt pan with a nonstick spray that contains flour (like Baker’s Joy® or Pam® Baking); set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar for 3 minutes at medium speed.
  4. Lower mixer speed and add eggs, one at a time. Continue to beat for 1 minute.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, ending with the flour.
  6. Add vanilla or rum extract. Beat on medium-high speed for 20 seconds.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for about 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. To Make the Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, water and vanilla or rum extract. Do not boil.
  9. When the cake comes out of the oven, prick it with a wooden skewer or fork. Pour the glaze slowly over the cake.
  10. Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan.

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42 thoughts on “Kentucky Butter Cake. Proudly Clogging Arteries Since 1963.

  1. I’m serious.. this sounds so darn good. especially with that buttery glaze spilled into its cavities. Like a mini surprise. wonderful!

  2. I am going to make this today and here is why. First, it looks beyond delicious. Second, we are snowed in and baking is definitely in order for the day. Finally back to number one, YUM, YUM, YUM!!!!!!!

  3. MMMM. My grandmother makes a butter cake a lot like this. I haven’t had this in years. I will have to try this recipe like soon.

  4. this looks amazing! mmmm, butter. i don’t have rum extract, but i’m sure just plain ol’ jamaican rum would be nice instead?? definitely for the adults.

  5. This kind of cake is extra dangerous because without a sugary-sweet frosting it is just too easy to put away five or six slices in a sitting. I think I am getting whiffs of the buttery goodness now.

  6. I can vouch for how good this cake is – thanks for making it while I was there visiting. The little bit of glaze crunch on the bottom is what got to me. It was perfect . . .

  7. What, just two sticks of butter in the cake? Why, it’s an honest-to-goodness health food compared with pound cake! And it sounds way better than pound cake. Love the “secret glaze” part!

  8. I made this today — it is fabulous! — but ran into some issues I was wondering if you could help me troubleshoot. The first was bake time. After an hour it was still quite wet inside so I gave it an additional 10-12 minutes. After it cooled completely, I tried to remove it from the pan, and that nice uniform brown top ended up staying in the bundt pan (the top 1/16″). The cake is still extremely moist, especially where the syrup went and it’s amazing. Question: for next time, would I be better off leaving it in the oven even a tad bit longer? Or, do you think that sticking was related to my oiling the pan and not flouring it too? Just curious. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. YES you have to flour the pan! and yes leaving it in a few more minutes would have been ok! Just keep an eye on it! I had to leave mine in like 20 mins extra, but i think it was due to my stove at teh time. But YES INDEED It is one of the best cakes out there! My kids always try to get some of it! But i tell them when they are grown they can make it themselves and enjoy the adult hood!!!

  9. Josh: I’m so sorry the top of the cake stuck!

    As long as the cake is starting to pull away from the sides and it passes the toothpick test, your baking time should be fine.

    My not-so-secret secret for anything baked in a bundt pan is using a non-stick spray that contains flour, like Baker’s Joy® or Pam® Baking. Every bakery I’ve worked in used the spray liberally, because it’s so consistent, especially when you’re working with a pan that has an intricate design.

    I hope this helps! Please write back if you have any other questions or issues with this cake.

  10. Oh! You went and did it! I am gonna HAVE to make this cake now! Thanks a lot for the artery clogging recipe!

    Donna @ Spatulas & Corkscrews

  11. I got the same recipe from my mom years ago. After looking at the ingredients for the glaze, I figured why use rum extract? I substituted the water with Captain Morgan Rum. This takes it to the next level.

  12. This is one of our favorite cake recipes. My daughter doesn’t like icing and it’s her birthday cake request each year. I also make it each Christmas in little star shape cupcake pans. Yummy!

  13. Almost, but not quite, perfect. For a true Kentucky pound cake, forget the glaze and the rum extract. Just pour some good Kentucky bourbon on it. ;)

  14. Kentucky rum cake is my husband's favorite cake… since it's so "rich" in ingredients, I only make it on his birthday! Trust me we could eat it anytime. Anyway, I decided to make it for Father's Day, and couldn't find the I found this one on the websearch… I loved it. He loved it too! I just finished another to take in to work tomorrow. I just put a little bit of power sugar in a small strainer, and sifted it over the cake… perfect! Thanks. (I may have to make it more often…than once a year)

  15. Given that the lipid hypothesis of heart disease is a sham, this cake will definitely not clog one's arteries. It will, however, due to its sugar content, contribute generously to one's fat stores. Am I ok with that? Yes.

  16. This is about pure as can get, because most of these ingrediants' are in the cupboard. Butter cake is a rum cake. The glaze is replaced with rum, powder sugar and toasted carmalized pecans poured on top of butter rum cake. Delious'

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