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kentucky butter cake
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3.76 from 245 votes

Kentucky Butter Cake

A vanilla rum flavored cake that is drenched in a warm vanilla rum butter syrup.
Course cake, Dessert
Cuisine American, southern
Keyword butter, cake, pound cake, rum, sugar
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 10



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks) room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract


  • Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl cream together butter and shortening on low speed, until combined.
  • Alternate adding the eggs and sugar, mixing after each addition, just until combined, until batter is fluffy.
  • Mix in vanilla extract and rum extract.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk until the batter is combined and fluffy.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan and give the pan a few shakes to release any air bubbles and level the surface.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 15-20 minutes on the middle rack until cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean or with moist crumbs clinging to it.
  • Remove cake from oven and poke holes into the cake, being careful not to poke holes all the way through to the top. Set aside
  • To make the syrup, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the sugar and water and stir until sugar has dissolved.
  • Keep stirring until butter mixture becomes foamy and thickens to the texture of a loose syrup (do not boil). Remove from heat. Add in vanilla and rum extract.
  • Spoon the butter mixture over that cake so that is goes down in the holes. (Reserve about 1/4-1/2 cup of the mixture for brushing the outside of the cake.)
  • Let sit for about 10 minutes or until the syrup is no longer sticky. (Don't let it sit for too long or the cake will become stuck in the pan)
  • Carefully remove cake from cake pan and allow the cake to cool and the syrup to absorb, for about an hour.
  • Reheat the leftover syrup and brush it all over the cake.
  • Serve. (See tip for serving the next day)



Note: If serving this cake the next day (highly recommended): Allow the cake to cool completely and then cover. The next day, reheat the leftover syrup and brush the cake right before serving and cutting.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.