Butter cake is a fairly simple cake to make, but its rich flavor and fluffiness make it a delicious dessert for any occasion. Butter cake is the perfect base for birthday and wedding cakes, and makes a delicious snack that tastes great with tea or coffee. One of the best things about butter cake is its versatility, as its taste can be completely changed by adding different fillings and toppings and icing.
- 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened (at room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cup (340 g) sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cup (340 g) flour
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
- 3 1/2 teaspoons (18 g) baking soda
- 1 1/4 cup (300 ml) whole milk
- 1 teaspoon (6 ml) vanilla
Part 1 of 3: Making a simple butter cake
Step 1. Gather the utensils
In addition to the cake ingredients, you'll also need a few utensils, including:
- A hand mixer or food processor
- Baking tins: one 23-33 cm tin, two 23 cm tins or a bundt tin
- Greaseproof paper or baking paper
- A large mixing bowl
- A large spoon or spatula
Step 2. Preheat the oven and prepare the mold
Preheat the oven to 180°C. While the oven is preheating, grease the molds with butter, cooking spray or margarine. Sprinkle a thin layer of flour over the greased tin.
If you prefer not to use greased pans, you can also cover the bottom of the pan with baking paper
Step 3. Stir the butter and sugar together to form a cream
Place butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Beat the ingredients together with your mixer on low speed. Keep beating for 5-10 minutes.
- When the butter and sugar become mixed, increase the speed to medium, and finally to high (last 1-2 minutes).
- Creaming the butter and sugar in this way creates a light and airy cake with sufficient volume, as the process creates air bubbles in the butter.
Step 4. Beat in the eggs
Open each egg individually in a small bowl and beat it slightly before adding the egg to the flour and sugar mixture. This will give you time to remove bits of eggshell and prevent the mixture from curdling. Set the beater to low and let them run as you add each egg.
- The eggs should be at room temperature, as a warm egg will help keep the cake in volume.
- Continue beating the mixture until all the eggs have been incorporated and the mixture is smooth and yellow.
Step 5. Beat in the flour, salt and baking powder
Slowly whisk everything together until everything is incorporated. Do not continue mixing for too long as this will make the cake less light and fluffy.
Step 6. Add the milk and vanilla
Once this is added, beat the mixture on low speed for about 30 seconds. If batter sticks to the rim of the bowl, use a spoon or spatula to work it through the rest of the batter.
Turn the speed to high and continue beating for another minute or two
Step 7. Pour the batter into the baking pan
If you are making more than one cake, divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Use your spoon to wipe the rim of the bowl so you don't waste batter.
Step 8. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes
There are a few ways to find out when your cake is ready, such as when:
- The cake springs back when you gently press it with a finger
- The cake is starting to come away from the edges of the cake tin
- A skewer that you push in the middle of the cake, comes out clean
Step 9. Let the cake cool
Place the cake on an oven rack and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Then take the grid and place it on top of the cake tin. Turn the baking pan over and slide the cake onto the grid.
Allow the cake to cool down to room temperature before setting it aside or icing it
Step 10. Glaze or save the cake
If you are going to serve or eat the cake immediately, proceed with topping, filling, or icing right away.
- If you are going to eat the cake within a week, wrap it in plastic and store it in a cool, dry place on the counter.
- If you are going to use the cake within three months, wrap it in plastic and store it in the freezer.
Part 2 of 3: Making glaze
Step 1. Make a vanilla icing from buttercream
There are many different toppings and icing that you can use to top off your butter cake, and vanilla buttercream is a popular and delicious choice. You make this glaze as follows:
- Place 1 cup (225 g) of softened butter in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium setting, about three minutes.
- Work in ½ cup amounts. Add 3-4 cups (345-460 g) of granulated sugar (use 4 cups for a firmer glaze). When all the sugar has been incorporated, turn the beaters to high speed and mix for 10 seconds.
- Add a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons (12 ml) of vanilla. Beat until everything is incorporated.
- Whisk in 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) of milk or cream until the glaze has reached desired consistency.
Step 2. Make a brown butter icing
This is a variation on a basic buttercream, but the brown butter makes the frosting richer and more nutty. You make this glaze as follows:
- Melt 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter (85 g) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep stirring until the butter foams, bubbles and turns golden. This takes about four to six minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the butter cool to room temperature.
- In a mixing bowl, put butter, 3 cups (345 g) granulated sugar and 1½ teaspoons (9 ml) vanilla. Slowly whisk in 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) of milk on medium speed until desired consistency is obtained.
Step 3. Go overboard with chocolate buttercream from 'malted milk'
Chocolate is another great icing for a butter cake, and can add an extra dimension to the vanilla flavor of the cake. This recipe is similar to vanilla buttercream, but you add chocolate and malted milk powder to the mix and use less vanilla.
- In a mixing bowl, place ½ cup (115 g) of soft, unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon (6 ml) of vanilla. Mix on a low setting.
- Continue to mix and gradually add 2 cups (230 g) sugar, ½ cup (59 g) cocoa powder, ½ cup (65 g) malted milk powder and a pinch of salt.
- Add 7 tablespoons (105 ml) of milk one tablespoon at a time (15 ml) until the icing is smooth, light and spreadable.
Step 4. Make orange icing
Citrus glaze also goes well with butter cake, and is less heavy than buttercream. You can use any citrus fruit you like, or a combination, such as orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc. For the glaze:
In a medium bowl, beat or beat 1 cup (115 g) powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon (the zest of a small wedge) orange zest, and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice. Stir until all ingredients are mixed and you have a smooth icing
Part 3 of 3: Assembling multiple cake layers
Step 1. Cut your cake in half horizontally
If you have made a round cake or bundt cake and want to make a layer cake, take a sharp knife and cut the cake in half to divide the top and bottom into two layers.
If you have baked more than one cake and are going to make one layered cake with it, you do not have to cut the cake in half
Step 2. Cool the layers
Place the cakes in the fridge for about an hour before glazing. This makes the cake more manageable, stiffer and less brittle.
Step 3. Glaze the top of the bottom layer
Place the bottom layer of cake on a baking sheet. With a icing knife or spatula (or a regular butter knife), spread a thin layer of whipped cream on top of the first layer of cake. Cool this for 15 minutes before continuing.
If you want to add an extra dimension to your cake, you can add a layer of fruit, jam, custard or ganache on top of the whipped cream. Raspberry, strawberry, and cherry are traditional fruit or jam choices when paired with a cake
Step 4. Apply the second coat of glaze
Carefully place the second cake layer back on top of the first layer. With your icing knife, apply a thin layer of icing all over the cake. This is to keep the last decorative glaze layer clean and free of crumbs.
- If you made a bundt cake, don't forget to glaze both the inside and the outside of the cake.
- Refrigerate the cake for 20 to 30 minutes before applying the final coat of frosting.
- To glaze the cake, drizzle the liquid evenly over the top of the cake, one spoon at a time. Let the liquid icing drip down the sides of the cake.
Step 5. Add the last layer of frosting
Apply a thicker and even layer of glaze over the entire protective layer. Use the back of the spatula or knife to make the glaze and surface as smooth as possible.
- For an extra finish, sprinkle the top with fruit, grated coconut, cocoa powder or grated citrus zest.
- Serve immediately, or cover with a lid until ready to eat.