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Kentucky Butter Cake

Total Time

Prep: 20 min. Bake: 55 min. + cooling


16 servings

I found this Kentucky butter cake recipe in an old cookbook I bought at a garage sale and couldn’t wait to try it. I knew it had been someone’s favorite because of the well-worn page. —Joan Gertz, Palmetto, Florida


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  2. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. tube pan. Bake at 350° until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55-70 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges and center tube of pan. Invert cake onto a wire rack over waxed paper.
  3. For sauce, combine the sugar, butter and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in extracts.
  4. Poke holes in the top of the warm cake; spoon 1/4 cup sauce over cake. Let stand until sauce is absorbed. Repeat twice. Poke holes into sides of cake; brush remaining sauce over sides. Cool completely.

Kentucky Butter Cake Tips

What butter is best to use in Kentucky butter cake?

Unsalted butter is traditionally recommended for baking, as it allows you to control how much salt goes into your baked goods. It also has a light, fresh and smooth flavor that is the perfect template upon which to build your cake. If you do use salted butter, simply adjust the salt in your recipe accordingly, keeping in mind that most butter brands add about 1/4 teaspoon salt per 1/2 cup butter. Read our butter guide to learn more about the differences between salted and unsalted butter.

What is the best way to grease the bundt pan when making Kentucky butter cake?

Add a thin, even coating of shortening or another fat to the surface of your pan, and then sift flour evenly over it. Roll and tap the pan to make sure all sides are coated with flour, and tap out the excess. Learn more about how to grease a pan properly.

How long should you wait for the butter sauce to absorb into the cake before adding the rest?

You want to go slow when adding the butter sauce to the cake, so it has time to absorb. It should take a few minutes between additions for it to fully soak in. Something else to keep in mind: When poking holes in the cake, you’ll want to go about 3/4 of the way down, so that the butter sauce absorbs into the whole cake. However, try not to go all the way through the cake, because that can make it crumbly and fragile. Once you’ve got the hang of it, try these other poke cake recipes next.

What should you serve with Kentucky butter cake?

This cake goes great with coffee or tea. Or, you can make it the centerpiece of your Kentucky Derby buffet! Consider these other Kentucky Derby recipes for the spread.

Shannon Norris, Taste of Home Senior Food Stylist

Nutrition Facts

1 slice: 410 calories, 19g fat (11g saturated fat), 100mg cholesterol, 344mg sodium, 56g carbohydrate (38g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g protein.