Kentucky Butter Cake

Kentucky Butter Cake is a delightfully rich and moist dessert that has become a Southern United States classic. The cake itself is a golden, buttery pound cake, known for its dense yet tender crumb. Its preparation begins with creaming together butter and sugar, which forms the base of the cake and contributes to its signature light and fluffy texture. The key to its richness lies in the addition of eggs and pure vanilla extract, which are mixed in gradually to create a smooth batter.

The dry ingredients, typically a combination of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt, are sifted together and added alternately with buttermilk. The buttermilk is essential as it imparts a subtle tanginess and helps to keep the cake moist. Once the batter is prepared, it’s poured into a well-greased bundt pan, which not only gives the cake its distinctive ring shape but also ensures even baking and a crisp, golden crust.

What truly sets the Kentucky Butter Cake apart, however, is the butter sauce. Made by simmering butter, sugar, water, and often a touch of vanilla or even bourbon, this rich sauce is poured over the cake while it’s still warm from the oven. Small holes are poked on the surface of the cake before the sauce is added, allowing the buttery mixture to seep into the cake, infusing it with additional moisture and flavor. This process not only enhances the taste but also creates a wonderfully sticky and sweet exterior.

Once soaked, the cake is left to cool, allowing the flavors to meld together. The result is a cake that’s incredibly moist and buttery, with a rich vanilla flavor that’s enhanced by the sugary crust. It’s often served as is, but can also be accompanied by a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, adding a creamy contrast to its dense texture.

In summary, Kentucky Butter Cake is a sumptuous treat that combines the simplicity of a traditional pound cake with the indulgence of a buttery, sugary glaze. It’s a celebration of simple, comforting flavors, making it a beloved dessert for gatherings, holidays, or just a special treat at home.


  • Cake:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • Butter Sauce:
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons bourbon or rum


  1. Preheat and Prepare:
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan thoroughly.
  1. Make the Cake Batter:
  • In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 tablespoon vanilla.
  • In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  1. Bake the Cake:
  • Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and place on a wire rack (keep the cake in the pan).
  1. Prepare the Butter Sauce:
  • While the cake is baking, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine ¾ cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter, and 3 tablespoons water.
  • Cook over medium heat until fully melted and combined, but do not boil.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Add bourbon or rum if desired.
  1. Finish the Cake:
  • Poke holes all over the warm cake using a skewer or fork.
  • Slowly pour the butter sauce over the cake, allowing it to soak in.
  • Let the cake cool completely in the pan before inverting onto a serving plate.
  1. Serve and Enjoy:
  • Slice and serve the cake as is or with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  • The cake can be stored at room temperature for several days, becoming more flavorful as it sits.

Enjoy your homemade Kentucky Butter Cake, a rich, buttery treat perfect for any special occasion or just a cozy night in!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 thoughts on “Kentucky Butter Cake”

Leave a Comment