It’s my Mom’s birthday this weekend (don’t worry Mom, I’m not revealing how many candles!) and we took a trip down to visit her in New York so she could get some time with Jane, and celebrate together as a family. I’m usually in charge of cooking when we all gather at their house for the weekend, but with a busy schedule we’re opting for a fancy dinner of take-out from the neighborhood Italian restaurant. I did offer to bring the cake though, and texted her last week to ask what flavor she wanted for her special day. She locked in her cake request: a Kentucky Butter Cake.It’s not your traditional icing and sprinkles birthday cake, but it’s definitely the kind of recipe that you should indulge in on special occasions. Most delicious baked goods have lots of butter and sugar in them, but guys this cake has butter in the actual name, so you know it means business (we’re talking 2.5 sticks here!).

The recipe comes from a local bakery we used to visit when I was a kid called The Baker’s Café in Katonah, NY. I have such great childhood memories of going in there with my mom to get a slice of this rich pound cake and other desserts for special occasions. I have a vivid memory of how it warm it was in there, with the heat coming off the ovens from daily baking, and the sound of the swinging screen front door. It’s been closed for a long time now, replaced by several other successions of cafes and restaurants. The Kentucky Butter Cake lives on though thanks to a spiral bound “cookbook” – really just a homemade packet of their recipes that garnered some local fame – that my Mom found from the Café at a local thrift store.

The batter is thick and buttery (living up to its name), and bakes off in a Bundt pan to really elevate the simple pound cake recipe. Make sure to grease the pan well with butter (no cooking spray!) and dust the pan lightly with flour to let the final cake slide out easily.

The cake is finished with a sugary, buttery glaze – yup, more butter! In the original recipe, it called for pouring the glaze in the pan before you remove the cake, so it soaks into the bottom. I tried this with my cake and it’s super tasty – but visually less appealing than having that shiny glaze over the top and dripping onto your cake stand. Next time I’ll pour it over the top, for a bit more shine on top of the Bundt cake grooves.

Finished off with some festive candles and a few party plates and napkins, it was just the indulgent birthday treat Mom was hoping for! Happy Birthday Mom! Get the full recipe below:

Kentucky Butter Cake.
  • 1 Cup of softened butter
  • 2 Cups of white sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup of buttermilk
  • 3 Cups of flour
  • 1 Tsp of baking powder
  • ½ Tsp of baking soda
  • ½ Tsp of salt
  • For Glaze:
  • ½ Cup of sugar
  • ¼ Cup of butter
  • 1.5 Tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp of water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease a Bundt pan with butter and dust lightly with flour.
  2. Using a stand or hand mixer, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs to mixture one at a time and beat until well combined; add in vanilla.
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Alternate adding in flour mixture and buttermilk to the bowl, continuing to mix to combine all ingredients.
  6. Pour batter into Bundt pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. Let it cool slightly before inverting and removing from the pan.
  7. While cake is still warm, pour hot glaze over the top and let it cool for 20 minutes before serving.
  8. To make the glaze: combine sugar, butter, vanilla and water in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Pour of cake while the glaze is still warm.