It is intriguing to know how a simple butter cake can be so welcoming. Bring it to a party and I’m pretty sure it will warm many hearts. Whenever I make this rich and flavourful butter cake, my family would always ask…
“did someone order this?”
“is it for own consumption?”
“what time can the cake be ready to eat?”
They would fight for the cake. My mom is a very generous woman but when comes to the last piece of butter cake on the plate, you will see her dark side. No one will fight with her.
This butter cake, when done right, will be MARVELLOUS. Every bit of the soft crumbs moisten in all that buttery goodness, just the right amount of sweetness, elevated with hints of vanilla, almond and condensed milk. Flavour is AMAZING. I’m salivating as I’m typing this.
If you do a “butter cake” search on Google, you may come across Mrs SK Ng’s recipe being shared around. This is a recipe tested and trust by many and it is famous for a reason. I have made this cake many times over and have tweaked a little here and there over the course to make it even better. So here, I’m sharing this wonderful recipe with a bit of tweaks and tips to help you achieve an amazing cake with success.
Butter Cake Ingredients
Butter – I have tried using both unsalted and salted butter, I prefer the latter. If you use unsalted, just remember to add salt as it is necessary for flavour. Since butter is the key ingredient, USE THE BEST BUTTER YOU CAN GET. Personally I prefer French butter. President, Lescure, Elle & Vire, Buerre D’Isigny are all great choices. I used Buerre D’Isigny for this. Ensure your butter is cool, at around 18C to 20C.
Flour – The original recipe calls for self-raising flour. I used plain flour and add baking powder for lift since I don’t always keep self-raising flour at home.
Eggs – Use eggs that weighs about 60g (with shell) each. You might have noticed that my butter cake has a tinge of orange. That occured from using Nuyolk eggs where the yolks have a vibrant orange shade. Eggs should be at room temperature.
Sugar – You can use granulated or caster sugar. I know many of you prefer lower sugar bakes nowadays so I have tried my best to reduce the sugar without affecting the texture. Try not to reduce any further from the proportions given in this recipe. Lowering too much of the sugar may affect the overall cake structure.
Condensed milk – this is a little unusual but a bit of condensed milk does enhance the flavour of the cake. I prefer to use Japanese condensed milk, the type that comes in tube form like this one. It is not too sweet and has a very nice milky fragrance to it.
Extracts – I used vanilla extract & almond extract to flavour the cake. Use pure vanilla extract always or pure vanilla bean paste. I also like to add a few drops of pure almond extract. You will not taste the almond in the cake, but a few drops elevates the flavour of the butter.
Keys to success in making a wonderful butter cake
Avoid over-creaming – Butter cakes are not meant to be light and fluffy. It is by nature a heavy cake. Over-creaming of the butter, sugar and eggs may result in a cake with a dense layer at the bottom or gummy streaks in between the cake. This is because over-creaming can create too much air pockets and while the cake will puff up nice and tall in the oven, it will sink a lot more than it should as soon as you take it out from the oven, due to its heavy weight. This is where dense gummy streaks happens. A rule of thumb is to cream the butter and sugar no higher than medium speed and no longer than 3 minutes.
To separate the eggs or not? – Mrs SK Ng’s recipe uses the egg separation method where you cream the egg yolks into the butter-sugar batter, while you whip the egg whites into stiff peaks and fold it into batter at the final stage. So question, is it necessary? I have tried making the cake without separating the eggs. It turns out no difference from the method of separating the eggs. However, there is one notable benefit with the egg separation method. That is the batter is MUCH EASIER TO EMULSIFY. Reason is simple. Egg yolk contains less water so they emulsify easily with the butter. Egg white contains a lot of water so when you try to introduce whole eggs into the butter, there is a chance that the batter may split, resulting in a denser cake. Hence for this reason, I prefer the egg separation method.
Meringue. Stiff peaks or not? – My suggestion is medium peaks. This means you should whip to a point where the meringue is firm (not loopy) and when you lift up the beater, the peak holds it shape with the tip curls over itself slightly. The meringue should look smooth, creamy and glossy. This way, you can easily fold into the cake batter.
Sift the flour – TWICE. It makes a difference. Better still, sift from a height to “loosen” it up. You will be rewarded with a softer cake.
Do not over-mix – I feel like a broken record here. In many of my recipes, I have emphasised on not to over-mix once flour is added. It is the same for this recipe. Over-mixing the flour will cause gluten to form and affecting the texture of the cake. No one likes rubbery cakes. So I repeat. DO NOT OVER-MIX ONCE FLOUR IS ADDED.
Baking pans – I like to bake this cake in bundt pans for two reasons. Firstly, the cake can be rather plain looking so baking in a pretty bundt pan instantly turns it into a stunner. Secondly, more crust. Need I say more? You can also bake the cake in 8 inch round or square pans. Just note the baking timing may differ a little so watch the cake from 25 minutes mark onwards.
How to enjoy this butter cake
This cake is at its BEST ON DAY 3. Yes, it is NOT a typo. We tested the cake on day 1, 2 & 3. At day 1, honestly not much fragrance. Quite bland in fact. On day 2, the butter begins to emit its fragrance and coat the crumbs nicely. We almost finished it. Day 3, OH MY LORD. The butter is at its full potential, moisturising every crumbs. Every bite was heavenly.
So the best way to enjoy this cake is to not eat it until day 2 at least. I know is not easy but definitely worth the wait. Once the cake cools down completely, wrap it whole in a plastic wrap to prevent drying, and keep in an airtight container. Set aside or out of your sight by covering it with a cloth if your willpower is not strong enough.
This cake goes particularly well with brewed black coffee or perhaps a good darjeeling tea. Keeps well for 5 days. If your home is warm, keep in the refrigerator. Bring out and let it come to room temperature before eating.
Happy Baking and Eating Bakers!
Rich and Flavourful Butter Bundt Cake
- 230 grams salted butter cool at 18C to 20C
- 100 grams white sugar granulated or caster
- 4 egg yolks
- 20 grams condensed milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
- 3 drops pure almond extract
- 60 ml milk
- 200 grams plain flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 4 egg whites
- 60 grams white sugar granulated or caster
- Extra butter for greasing the pan
- Extra flour for coating the pan
- Preheat the oven to 170C. Properly greased every part of the bundt pan with soften butter. Sprinkle flour over the buttered pan and knock out the excess. Set aside. Add baking powder to the flour and sift twice. Set aside.
- Place butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream at medium low speed for no more than 3 minutes. The mixture should be lighter and look pale.
- Add the egg yolks one by one, mixing well after each addition on low speed. Add in vanilla extract/paste, almond extract and condensed milk. Cream for another 30 seconds to combine.
- Add 1/3 of the flour and mix on the lowest speed for 10 seconds. Scrap down the sides of the bowl. Add in half of the milk and mix for another 10 seconds. Its ok if the batter looks not thoroughly mixed. The key is not to overmix. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour and the balance milk. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add in the remaining flour. Using a large spatula, fold the flour into the batter, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl until all the flour incorporated. Stop and set aside.
- Using either the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or the hand mixer, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add in half of the sugar and whip on medium speed till creamy. Add the remaining half and whip till medium peaks form. Meringue should look creamy, glossy but firm.
- Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the cake batter until incorporated. Gently fold in remaining meringue until everything is properly incorporated. Check by scooping the batter from the bottom up. Should not see any unmixed merignue. Try not to over mix.
- Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Tap the pan a few times on a counter top line with a piece of folded cloth to ensure the batter fill in every crease of the bundt pan and to knock out large air bubbles (the cloth is to protect the pan). The batter should level evenly after a few taps.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Test with a cake tester or a satay stick. The stick should come out clean. Otherwise bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. Baking time depends on the type of pan used and oven. Once remove from the oven, tap the pan once or twice on the counter top and allow it to sit for a few minutes before unmoulding. Important note: It is easier to unmould the cake from a bundt pan while it is still hot. However, do give it a few minutes to settle in before unmoulding.
If you like this butter cake, do check out these recipes as well!
Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges and Creme Fraiche