Kentucky Butter Cake



1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened, plus more for greasing the pan

3 cups/385 grams all-purpose unbleached flour, plus more for dusting the pan

Nonstick cooking spray (optional)

2 cups/400 grams granulated sugar

1 cup/240 milliliters buttermilk (see Tip)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda


¾ cup/150 grams granulated sugar

cup/75 grams unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling (optional)


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter and flour (or spray with nonstick cooking spray) a 10-inch tube pan or a 12-cup bundt pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, combine the remaining cake ingredients and beat for 3 minutes at medium speed. Pour into prepared pan, level with a spatula and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes.

Shortly before the cake is done baking, make the butter sauce: Combine the granulated sugar, butter and vanilla with 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan over low heat until the butter just melts. (Do not let the mixture boil, as you do not want the sugar to completely dissolve.)

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, leave the cake in its pan and gently poke it all the way through 15 to 20 times with a long wooden skewer or a long-tined fork. Slowly pour warm butter sauce over the cake. Let cool for at least 3 hours before unmolding from pan. Just before serving, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.