Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake

November 25, 2012

Every so often on my blog, there comes a recipe that trumps all other recipes. This is one of them. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...

Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake.

What is Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake, exactly? An incredibly buttery and moist buttermilk bundt cake, drenched in a boozy, sugary, bourbon whiskey glaze. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that this is one of the best cakes I've ever made. Every bite felt like it melted in my mouth — it's no wonder, with the cake's light, fluffy, and open crumb:

It's a known fact that Portland girls like their whiskey, so it's no surprise that this recipe comes from Julie Richardson, local Portland baker and owner of the very delicious bakery Baker and Spice. This past summer, Richardson recently released Vintage Cakes, a cookbook dedicated to updating old-fashioned recipes (some of which she found in a random box in her bakery's attic!) and turning them into timeless classics with updated ingredients and flavors.

Indeed, Richardson explains that this recipe is actually dates back to 60s, where it was recorded as the prize-winning entry at the 1963 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in Platte City, Missouri. The 60s, hm? And here I was thinking that, in the year 2012, we were in the midst of some glorious food revolution since everybody seems to be such a massive foodie these days. Besides, I always thought that the 50s and 60s was the golden era of prepared food? TV dinners, canned food, cake mixes... eitherway, I was wrong. This bourbon butter cake completely debunks all that. Because seriously, this is it. If there's any one recipe to try from my blog (besides Tartine's Lemon Cream Tart, which I still fully endorse), this is it. You will not regret it. This cake will change your life.

I promise.

Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake
(Adapted from Vintage Cakes)




Special Equipment:
  • one pinwheel bundt pan (or any other bundt pan with a 10-cup capacity), liberally greased with butter or sprayed with cooking oil

For the Bourbon Buttermilk Bundt Cake:
(makes one 10-inch cake, enough for 10-12 servings)
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Bourbon Butter Glaze:
(makes about 1 cup, enough for 1 cake)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey



For the Bourbon Buttermilk Bundt Cake:
  1. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350 (F).

  2. In a medium bow, sift together 3 cups cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a bowl, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure that all ingredients are well mixed. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream 1 cup butter, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. 

  4. Turn down the mixer to its lowest speed and add 4 eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.

  5. Whisk together 1/4 cup bourbon and 1 cup buttermilk together in a liquid measuring cup. Set aside.

  6. With the mixer still on its lowest speed, add the flour mixture (from the first step) in three parts, alternating with the bourbon and buttermilk mixture (from the fifth step) in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula.

  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a rubber spatula to spread it out evenly. Place the pan into the preheated oven and bake until the cake is golden and springs back when touched, about 40 to 45 minutes.

  8. When the cake is ready, remove from oven and let rest on a cooling rack. Make glaze immediately.

For the Bourbon Butter Glaze:
  1. Combine 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup bourbon in a small saucepan over low heat just until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, whisking to combine. Use immediately.

Putting It All Together:
  1. When the cake is fresh from the oven and cooling on the cooling rack, leave it in the pan and poke holes all over the exposed top (or, what will eventually be the base of the cake) with a wooden skewer.

  2. Pour three-quarters of the prepared glaze slowly over the cake, saving the remaining glaze. Use a rubber spatula to spread the glaze around the cake top, making sure that the glaze seeps in the holes you made with the wooden skewer.

  3. Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes, then flip it out onto a serving plate so that the glazed part is on the bottom.

  4. Brush the top with the remaining glaze — if the glaze has thickened, rewarm it over low heat and use immediately.  



  1. Wow this looks amazing! I might have to make a GF version. I love your bundt pan- it's so pretty!

  2. Ooh, how rich! That pan shape is so pretty, too. I really need to get some prettier baking dishes... form as well as function!

  3. I've never been a bourbon fan but I have a new friend who is! This may just need to be tested out!

  4. Hi from UT! I was frantically searching online, Thanksgiving Day, for an explanation as to why my "Crack Pie" wasn't setting up well and found your high altitude recipe! Sadly it was a bit too late since they were already baking in the oven, (hello! I should have realized there would be issues since the recipe came from NY elevation) but I've been looking through some of your other recipes for high altitude and I can't wait to try them! What a great blog! Beautiful photography as well. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Oh dear Lord! I have to fight the urge to lick my screen! What bourbon did you end up using?

    1. Hi Bee, I just used some Buffalo Trace bourbon that we had lying around. But really, you can use any kind, it'll all be delicious. I promise!

  6. Totally bookmarking this one!! I love whiskey! Seriously one of my most favorite things eevvverrr, and then to have cake with it? ::insert profanity:: genius!

  7. Looks great. I'm a huge fan of Vintage Cakes, everything I've made has been fantastic!

  8. Printed!! this looks amazing and what a great gift to give at the holidays wrapped up in cellophane with a big bow!


Latest Instagrams

© hummingbird high || a desserts and baking blog. website privacy policy. Design by FCD.