Dense and moist with a rich buttery flavor, this Kentucky Butter Cake is an old-fashioned pound cake that will quickly become a favorite. Every bite is infused with a sweet, buttery rum glaze that is what dreams are made of.
Enjoy a slice as-is or add some sliced berries and whipped cream. This cake is perfect for enjoying with a cup of coffee or tea.
An Easy, Moist Pound Cake Recipe
If you’re a fan of vanilla pound cake, you’re going to LOVE Kentucky butter cake. This is a classic, old-fashioned recipe that’s been popular since it won the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1963. And for good reason – each bite of this bundt cake is dense, moist, and filled with a rich, buttery flavor.
Most versions of this cake floating around the internet seem to omit the rum, but to me it isn’t a Kentucky Butter Cake without it!
What is Kentucky Butter Cake?
Kentucky Butter Cake is, essentially, your traditional vanilla pound cake topped with a sweet, buttery, rum-infused glaze that seeps into every ounce of the warm baked cake. This leaves the outside nice and crispy while the inside is soft and moist, but with a dense crumb you’d expect. It’s truly the best pound cake you’ll ever try.
Why is Kentucky Butter cake named after Kentucky? Well…I don’t really know. Especially because it became popular when someone from Missouri, not Kentucky, entered it into the 1963 Pillsbury Bake-Off and won. I assume the original recipe began in Kentucky, maybe?
What You’ll Need
Less than 10 ingredients are used in the actual cake, most of which are also used in the Kentucky butter cake glaze.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
For the Cake
- All-purpose flour: Make sure you spoon and level the flour when measuring, don’t scoop. Using too much flour will produce a dry baked good.
- Salt: To heighten the other flavors.
- Baking powder & baking soda: Both leavening agents are needed to achieve the perfect texture in this cake.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness, of course. This is a dessert cake.
- Butter: It’s certainly not butter cake without butter.
- Eggs: Eggs provide structure. You can’t make pound cake without them.
- Buttermilk: This is pretty key in Kentucky Butter Cake. It helps create the best tender crumb, with a slight tangy component. I don’t recommend substituting with anything else for this recipe.
- Vanilla extract & almond extract: These two extracts create the best flavor for this cake.
For the Glaze
- Granulated sugar
- Rum: Dark rum or spiced rum will both work here. Brandy is another option and you can just use water or milk if you prefer not to bake with alcohol.
How to Make Kentucky Butter Cake
This pound cake is super easy and made with just a stand mixer and bundt cake pan.
(Don’t miss the complete printable recipe card below with all the details.)
- Prepare the pan. Grease the pan liberally with butter, then dust with flour.
- Prepare the cake batter. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in each egg one at a time. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Alternate adding the flour mixture with the buttermilk.
- Bake. Transfer to the bundt pan and bake for an hour.
- Make the glaze. Warm the butter, sugar and rum until just bubbling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
- Add the glaze to the cake. Use the thin end of a chopstick to poke holes in the cake while it’s still warm. Slowly pour the glaze all over, making sure it gets in the holes. Wait for it to absorb before pouring and poke more holes if needed.
- Cool and serve. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. Then loosen the sides with a dull knife and invert onto a serving plate. Slice and enjoy!
Tips for Success
This cake is easy to make but there are a few things to keep in mind for the best flavor and to avoid it sticking to the pan.
- Be sure to butter every inch of the pan and dust with flour. The key to Kentucky Butter Cake is to go all-out with the butter – including when you grease the pan. Be sure to get every nook and cranny of the pan with butter and then dust with flour before you add the batter. This will ensure it doesn’t stick and will help it release once completely cooled.
- Do not boil the glaze. While you want the glaze to gently bubble, do not let it reach a full boil. If the butter and sugar begin to burn, you’ll want to start over.
- Add the glaze while the cake is still warm. The glaze should be drizzled over the cake while it’s still warm, as it will seep into the holes and infuse every bite much easier.
- Save some for the second day! This is one of the few cakes out there that’s even better on day 2 and 3!
How to Store
- How to store. Leftover pound cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Just be sure to wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.
- Can I freeze Kentucky Butter Cake? Yes! Like other pound cakes, Kentucky butter cake freezes well. Allow to cool completely then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and again in aluminum foil. It will keep up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. You can freeze the entire cake or individual portions.
More Classic Cake Recipes:
- Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
- Gooey Butter Cake
- Easy Pistachio Cake
- Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
- Oatmeal Cake
Kentucky Butter Cake
For the Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour , spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup butter , softened to room temperature
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
For the Glaze
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons dark rum (or spiced rum, brandy, or water)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan liberally with butter, getting in all the grooves. Dust thoroughly with flour, discarding any excess.
- Make the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- In another large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs in, one at a time, beating well each time. Add the vanilla and almond extract.
- Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
- Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Make the glaze: In a saucepan, warm the butter, sugar, and rum over medium heat until just gently bubbling (do not boil), stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Using the thin end of a chopstick, poke holes in the cake while still warm, about 3/4 of the way down. Slowly pour the sauce all over the cake making sure it gets in those holes and waiting for it to absorb before pouring more. (If the glaze pools on the surface, poke more holes to help it sink in.)
- Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan (don't be impatient – this is critical so it releases easily.) Then loosen the sides with a dull knife and gently invert onto a serving plate.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!