Leslie’s Best Butter Cake Recipe with KitchenAid: Finally, after baking more than 30 cakes

Cake slices 2
My Best Butter Cake !

This butter cake recipe project has been a long time in the making!

My mother-in-law has always insisted that the traditional butter cake is still the best whenever she is served some fancy new cake for the thirty-something years that I have known her. I had always assumed that this very basic old-school cake was easy to make so I never really thought about trying to perfect it.  After all, there are already so many “Best” butter cake recipes online, surely it was just a matter of using someone else’s tried and tested recipe! But, I soon realized that even though there are only four main ingredients, viz butter, eggs, flour and sugar, there are an infinite number of ways of combining and proportioning the ingredients!  I tried many of the published recipes online and was never satisfied that I got what I wanted.

Here is a summary of what I wanted in a perfect butter cake recipe.

Taste/Texture/Aroma

1.  A wonderfully buttery aroma and flavor 2.  The crumb should be finely textured, not too crumbly, moist and melts in your mouth with just a slight pressure of the tongue on the palate. 3.  It must go well with a cup of coffee or tea and leave you wanting another slice.

Butter cake slices

 

Dimension/Shape

I wanted a cake that can be served as a slice which is approximately 2cm thick and about 9cm by 6cm.  The dimensions are important.  A 6cm high cake will ensure that you take two bites with each bite having one side with brown crust.  The brown crust adds a lot of caramel flavour to each bite which on average should be 3 by 3 cm.  That means that a 9x6cm slice will yield 6 bites each with at least one side with the crust.

Whole cake

Recipe

  1. First, I wanted a recipe that will use one standard bar of butter which is 250g.  This just makes it easier as I want to be able to just unwrap the butter and use the whole piece.
  2. There are many ways of combining the ingredients.  I wanted to find the shortest and simplest way of adding the ingredients which will yield consistent results.  eg I don’t like to have to alternate between dry and wet ingredients when you can add it all at once.  After many experiments, I think my technique is the most straightforward and yields the kind of crumb structure I was looking for.
  3. I wanted to find the best method of baking the cake so that it would come out as a nice even square block with a smooth top and edges.  I just like to have a cake that not only tastes good but looks perfect as well.  If you aren’t fussed about the looks and just want a cake that tastes good, then you can just skip this bit.
Ingredients from front to back - 250g block of Butter, 4 x 60g eggs, 150g castor sugar, 45g sour cream, 180g self-raising flour, vanilla essence and butter oil
Ingredients from front to back – 250g block of Butter, 4 x 60g eggs, 150g castor sugar, 45g sour cream, 180g self-raising flour, vanilla essence and butter oil

Ingredients

Yellow Team
1.  Butter 250g (1 block)
2.  Castor sugar 75g
3.  Sour Cream 45g (3 Tbsp)
4.  Egg yolk 70g (from 4x60g eggs)
5.  Vanilla extract/essence 1 tsp
6.  Salt 1/4 tsp
7.  Butter oil 1/2 tsp (optional)
8. Self-raising flour 180g (or Cake flour with 1.5 tsp baking powder)
Update 30 Apr 2022: For even better texture I now use 140g Self Raising Flour and 40g Super Fine Almond Flour + extra 1/2 tsp baking powder

White Team
1.  Egg whites 150g (from 4x60g eggs)
2.  Castor sugar 75g

Top: Creaming the butter until pale yellow, whip the whites with castor sugar until soft peaks Bottom: Adding one egg yolk at a time, mixing team yellow and team white together
Top: Creaming the butter until pale yellow, whip the whites with castor sugar until soft peaks Bottom: Adding one egg yolk at a time, mixing team yellow and team white together

Method

  1. Bring the butter out of the fridge, divide into 2 cm slices and place in mixing bowl to thaw.
  2. Separate the eggs while still cold
  3. Use the butter wrapper to oil the cake tin
  4. Coat the inside of the cake tin with flour.  Wet the baking strips (if using) and secure around the cake pan.
  5. Fit the flex edge beater and beat at medium speed (6) the butter until it is soft.  Temperature should be around 15°C.  It should still be cool to touch and you should easily be able to indent it with your finger tip.
  6. Add castor sugar and beat for 4mins or until pale and fluffy
  7. Add sour cream and mix till fully incorporated
  8. Add yolks one at a time.  Mix each yolk until fully incorporated before adding the next yolk
  9. Add salt, vanilla essence and butter oil (if using) and mix till incorporated.  Set aside.
  10. Whip egg whites at high speed (8) till bubbles have almost all disappeared.
  11. Add castor sugar and whip till stiff peaks
  12.  Sift the flour and add to the yellow team.  Mix at low speed (2) till the all the flour has almost disappeared.
  13. Add 1/3 of the whipped egg whites and mix at low speed (4) till whites are incorporated.
  14. Add the rest of the egg whites and mix at low speed (4) until all the egg whites have just disappeared.

    Use a chopstick to even out the batter and spatula to smooth the top
    Use a chopstick to even out the batter and spatula to smooth the top
  15. Bake in pre-heated 160°C oven for 50mins or until the top  of the cake is springy and a skewer comes out clean.
  16. Cool the cake upside down on a cooling rack until completely cool.
  17. Overturn the cake onto a cake board and leave overnight for the flavours to mature. (If you can resist)

KitchenAid Color of the year

KA1

The KitchenAid Color of the Year for 2022 is Beetroot!

It didn’t sound very appealing when we heard about it, but when we finally opened the box, Lisa immediately fell in love with it.  Purple is her favourite color and the satin finish actually makes the mixer look rather outstanding in the kitchen. The set came with a smaller 3L bowl that fits neatly into the larger standard bowl which was really handy and I like that they now have a flex edge beater which means that I don’t have to keep scraping down the butter during creaming.  The pouring shield also comes with handy clips now that secures it to the rim of the mixer bowl.  There is also a pastry beater specially for crumbing butter and flour like when you are making shortcrust pastry!

KitchenAid KSM195 Mixer Tilt-Head 4.8L  Artisan Colour with additional 3L Bowl, Pouring Shield, scraper, beaters include: fouet, flexible edge, pastry and hook
KitchenAid KSM195 Mixer Tilt-Head 4.8L Artisan Colour with additional 3L Bowl, Pouring Shield, scraper, beaters include: fouet, flexible edge, pastry and hook

It is the first time the model is available in Singapore and the added silver coated accessories and bowl really makes this model a very attractive buy.  You can purchase this Artisan colour KitchenAid mixer at Tangs or online on Kitchenaid.sg.

Cake slices 3

 

Notes for those of you who really want to know

1.  Butter flavor

I have been struggling for months to find the perfect butter that will yield a nice butter aroma and flavor.  In the end, I found that the easiest way to add a buttery aroma to the cake is to add a touch of butter oil to the batter.  Diacetyl is the natural substance that gives butter its characteristic aroma. You need enough of it to give your cake that buttery aroma when you smell it.  You can easily omit the butter oil, the cake will still taste and smell good but I found that most people like my cake better when I add a little butter oil to it.  I buy my butter oil from Ailin Bakery House. Another way of intensifying the butter flavor is to use canned butter.  One brand that you can find in the market is Wijsman Dutch butter, which is favored by people who make kueh lapis. Another popular option is Golden Churn canned butter which you can find at most supermarkets.  I haven’t tried raw French butter yet, but you can find them at specialized grocers and cheese shops.  I currently use La Fermiere Belgium Butter which I buy at wholesale prices from United Bakery Supplies.

2.  Creaming the Butter

One of the things that I feel should be clarified is the statement, “bring the butter to room temperature”.  As you know room temperature in Europe is not the same as room temperature here. If you leave a block of butter on the kitchen table for 30mins on a really warm day, the butter might be too soft.  What you really want is butter that is at around 15°C which will still feel cool to the touch, but soft enough to be beaten.  I like to bring my butter straight out of the fridge, cut it into smaller cubes and leave them in the mixer bowl to temper while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Once the eggs are separated and ingredients are measured out, the butter is usually soft enough to start beating.  If it isn’t, just start your mixer and allow the butter to spread around the mixing bowl.  It will soon be just right for creaming.

Creaming
Creamed Butter and Sugar

Another thing about creaming that I need to emphasize.  It is actually more difficult to over cream the butter than to under cream and the window is quite wide.  As rule, 4 mins using a mixer should yield a batter that is pale yellow and fluffy.  You can go for about 8mins and it is still ok. If you don’t cream enough, your cake might be dense and heavy.  If you over cream it will become dry.  However, the window is quite wide, so make sure you cream enough and don’t stress about over creaming.

3.  Baking the cake

Pan
7in Square Pan – Floured

If you want to have a perfect-looking cake, then you need to pay close attention to the baking tin that you are using.  If you are using a plain aluminum tin, then you should bake your cake at 170°C and make sure you line the tin with baking paper.  The baking paper helps the cake to rise nicely so that the edge is nice and round instead of a sharp rim as shown in the photo.  

Edges
Baked without flouring the tin

I actually use an anodized aluminum non-stick pan which I oil and flour before filling with the batter.  You can use a non-stick pan without the flour, but it also develops that sharp edge because the sides get really hot and the batter rises quickly up the sides of the pan.  Actually, it doesn’t look nice but that edge is really crispy and my wife actually likes it!  So, if you are not bothered with the look, just oil the pan without the flour and go ahead and bake your cake.

Without strips
Baked without baking strips

If you want to prevent the cake from cracking, then you may need to use baking strips.  These strips will insulate the sides so that it doesn’t set too early.  This applies to cakes in which you cream the butter and sugar first and not as much to sponge cakes where the eggs are beaten till foamy.  What happens is that the sides will cook quickly and set first while the middle of the cake is still cooking.  So the middle has more time for the bubbles to expand and rises more than the sides causing the middle to split.  The cake is still fine to eat but just doesn’t look nice.  The split is fine if you are using a loaf pan but not so nice when using a square pan.

4.  Sour Cream

I find that sour cream does make the cake a little more tender and moist, but the effect is subtle.  If you don’t have sour cream on hand, you can substitute with 60g  full cream milk

5.  Adding all the flour at once

Final Batter
Final Batter

There are many recipes that instruct you to add a bit of flour, followed by the milk then the flour.  In my recipe, I cream the butter, sugar, and egg yolks first then add all the flour to the mix and make sure that the flour is mixed with the fat.  Since egg yolks are mainly fat, there isn’t much water in the batter at this stage, so you are not too concerned about gluten formation which will make the cake doughy.  Gluten formation only really starts when you add the egg whites which are 90% water.  However, by whipping them to stiff peaks with sugar, you prevent the water from interacting with the gluten in the flour.  Once the egg whites are added, just mix till no more whites are visible and your cake batter is ready to be baked.

Do give this recipe a try and let me know how you go in the comments section. Happy Baking!

 Other Recipes using KitchenAid Equipment

Disclosure:  This post is written in collaboration with KitchenAid Singapore

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Second paragraph: “I tried many of the published recipes online and was never satisfied that I got want I wanted.”
Should be “what I wanted.” ????

Awesome!! Gonna try this for Hari Raya. Thank you so much for the detailed video, very helpful.

I would love different recipes because I love baking

You’ve done it again Leslie. Everyone loves the “good old fashioned” butter cake, the taste of our childhood. Thanks for making me look good haha!

What’s the size of your pan for this recipe?

I Googled 18 cm cake pan and it said that would be a 7″ square. I bought that size pan on Amazon and although I am trying to trust the recipe it looks like it is going to overflow. Even just looking at your pan it does not look like a 7″ square. Could you measure your pan and give your dimensions in inches please. Thank you

I am a closet connoisseur of butter cake. It is so last century. I have never baked a single cake in my life. May I jus buy one from you from an available outlet to check on your claims about a true blue buttercake?

Hi Dr Leslie, may I what type of non stick baking pan you used. Thanks

I have been looking for a butter cake recipe. Saw this today. I want to make 3 6-inch and 2 5-inch round cakes. Will doubling this recipe be okay?

I made this 2 days ago, it was s a hit with my children, my son actually devoured 2 slices while they were still warm, the real test was my in-laws, they both gave thumbs up when I gave some to them yesterday, my father in law had seconds. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks Leslie for perfecting this recipe. By the way, your banana cake recipe is also a family favourite! Keep up the good work.

I went to a few bakery shops in singapore it do not carry 7 inch non stick square pan. Could you share where did u buy it from. Hope to hear from u soon. Thanks

You can try getting from Phoon Huat and some online platform do carry that size.

What can I replace eggs with?
And in what ptoprtiin? thanks

Hi Leslie,

I’ve been trying to bake the ‘perfect’ Butter Cake in the past couple of years- trying out various recipes. Yours is by far the best/ most prefect. The butter cake was so delicious and moreish! Thanks for experimenting and perfecting the recipe and sharing.
Quick question, can I use milk (45g?) instead of sour cream as I always have milk in the fridge? Would the result be similar if I were to use a round baking tin or pound tin?

If replacing with full cream milk, would the step be exactly the same too, given that milk has water content in it?

Hi Leslie, thank you for the recipe.
My butter cake , however turned out a tad dry. Not sure why ? I’ve followed your recipe exactly except I’ve used a hand held blender. Wonder if you could enlighten me☺️ Thank you for your time

Thank you for quick response. It didn’t rise as much and the middle looked a little dense not light and fluffy as the peripheral. I followed yr recipe to the T ????. Thanks once again

Thank you for quick response. It didn’t rise as much and the middle looked a little dense not light and fluffy as the peripheral. I followed yr recipe to the T ????. Thanks once again

Hi Dr Leslie, May i know where did you get your baking strips from pls?

We got ours from Redman but you can purchase on Lazada here – https://bit.ly/LazBakingStrips

Came across your best butter cake recipe follow through saw good reviews will try to bake. You are very detailed in teaching us to bake thank you very much. I also use your char xiu recipe good except the sugar is too much 280gm.

Hi Leslie, after trying your butter cake recipe, I’d just like to say this is probably the best i’ve ever made. Super super impressed. Thank you for sharing and documenting every single detail!
Have you considered trying scones and sharing the recipe too? You’re probably the only one I trust now 😀

Yes! English scones for tea!

Thanks for your recipe, been trying to find a perfect butter recipe, will definitely try your recipe soon. By the way, can I reduce sugar for this recipe ? Thanks

Hi Leslie, Would like to ask why sometimes I bake butter cake, there’s a layer thick, wet , dense at the bottom of the cake? Appreciate yr advice. Thanks!

Also u mention for better texture, u use Self Raising Flour & 40g Super Fine Almond Flour + extra 1/2 tsp baking powder, so if I substitute cake flour with self raising flour, how much baking powder shld I add ? Thanks!

Dr Tay, you made a very important point about temperature of butter (which incidentally I assume is unsalted) which many people may not realise. Singapore’s room temperature is terrible for creaming method. You may need to take some steps to remove the holes appearing in the top half of your cake for a more refined and even crumb.

This recipe is the best I have tried and it is the first time I made butter cake with egg separation method. Thanks for taking the time to trial the best butter cake1

The butter cake flavour turned out awesome. I did not have sour cream but I had mango flavoured Greek yougurt! It worked out too! I did not have the baking strip so I tried using the aluminium foil wrapped baking paper and I had to use the loaf pan… nevertheless… I ordered my 7in tray and baking strip. I will bake another when arrives! I blame it on my my now! ????

Hi… I cannot see a printable version available. Would you create that please? Thk u.

We don’t have that feature yet but will look to implement it in the future. Thanks

Dr Leslie, how is the top of my cake turned browned very fast when my oven temperature is set at 160’? I’m worried if I reduced it to 150’ the cake may not be cooked. Pls advise? TIA.????????

Hi Dr Leslie,
I noticed you baked this butter cake in the lowest rack of your oven?
Does it make a difference which rack I bake it?
Thank you

Dr Tay,
Thank you so much for your precise and detailed instructions. Your recipe “holes” and all is so…oo delicious down to the very last refined crumb. Mrs Tay is one very lucky lady. My gratitude and sincere appreciation.

Thanks Dr Leslie for the “5 STAR BUTTER CAKE RECIPE”
I changed sour cream(lupa nk beli) to plain yougurt…but still marvellous????

I made this cake yesterday and was very excited by the description as it sounds like this chef has done alot of homework
However my cake was dense and the alot of the butter had saturated the bottom of the cake so I feel like it needs 1/3 less butter. Also the sweetness wasnt coming through properly so maybe a little more sugar was needed?
If anyone can explain why this happened to my cake? Pls pls pls!

may i know the brand of the “good butter” and where to get it? I used scs but my friend said not buttery enough! I don’t have butter oil though.

Hi Dr Lesile, can I use creme fraiche instead of sour cream? Sent hubby to get sour cream, he came back with the former. If using, do I need to add some lemon juice to it to increase the tangy-ness? Say 5g. Long as overall cream used us 45g?

This is definitely the best butter cake recipe ! I’ve made it multiple times and my kids love it ! Thanks

So glad that you and your kids love it! 🙂

Thank you so much for your awesome butter cake recipe
It’s so yummy .
My family love it so much !

best butter cake recipe . my son ate half the cake at one time .Tq Dr Leslie Tay

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