Very Rich Butter Cake

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This is the butter cake of your dreams! Savour this marvellously moist and super rich buttery cake, flavoured with a light kiss of vanilla and a tinge of brandy.
Very rich butter cake

{Update} Dear readers, I hear you! You’ve been telling me how you all absolutely love the flavour of this very rich butter cake, and would love to see how it’s really done.

So I’ve now included step-by-step photos, with more detailed tips and instructions. Even better, I’ve included a recipe video that’ll show you how to do it!

Be sure to watch the video as this recipe is more involved than most butter cakes.

But I promise you, when done right, you’ll find that this very rich butter cake is nothing short of amazing! So many readers have written to me that this is the best butter cake they’ve ever made.

Very rich butter cake set to cool on a wire rack

Asian butter cakes are super moist and buttery!

This very rich butter cake is reminiscent of the traditional Nonya tea cakes of older days. It has withstood the test of time, and remains a beloved classic.

It is a traditional Asian recipe from the cookbook of the late Mrs Leong Yee Soo, one of Singapore’s finest Peranakan culinary matriachs.

Close-up view of moist crumb of a rich butter cake

This butter cake is decadent, marvellously moist, and super buttery. It’s sweetness is just perfect, which in my world is not too sweet.

The flavours of vanilla and almond extracts, brandy and condensed milk really creates a special flavour.

Options for making this butter cake

Butter cake, just baked and cooled on a wire rack

Reducing the amount of butter

Let me start by saying that this cake is everything a gloriously rich butter cake should be!

But if you want a slightly less rich version, I’ve included a reduced butter amount next to the original recipe amount.

So instead of incorporating two sticks of butter (455 gm), you can reduce to roughly 1.5 sticks of butter (350 gm).

Using different sized cake pans

This recipe makes a lot of batter! It will fill:

  • one square cake pan measuring 20 x 20 x 7.5 cm (8 x 8 x 3 inches)
  • two loaf pans, each measuring 20 x 10 x 6 cm (8 x 4 x 2.5 inches) – halve the recipe if you want one loaf cake
  • one bundt pan measuring 23 x 8 cm (9 x 3 inches) – this is a general size indication as volume varies due to different shapes and designs
  • one round pan measuring 23 x 5 cm (9 x 2 inches)

How to make very rich butter cake

Butter_Cake_1C

Ingredients for butter cake

  • Butter. I use unsalted butter, but if you have salted butter, just omit the salt in the recipe. Butter is easier to cut when cold, but should be left to stand at room temperature until slightly softened. Depending on where you live, room temperature is relative. You can easily determine when butter is ready for creaming by pressing your index finger lightly on its surface. The butter should give way slightly, and you’ll see a slight indentation.
  • Eggs. I used large eggs each weighing between 60 to 65 gm. As with butter, let eggs come to room temperature as you can’t get the optimal volume of air when whipping up cold eggs.
  • Egg whites and yolks. It’s easier to separate the yolks and whites when eggs are cold. Separate cleanly and carefully. Do not let a single streak of yolk taint your egg whites or else, the whites will not whip up.
  • Condensed milk. Condensed milk adds a creamy, milky sweetness and contributes moistness as it has a high sugar content.
  • Sugar. I use caster sugar or fine sugar.
  • Flour. I use plain or all-purpose flour. You can also use cake flour, which will give a more tender crumb if that’s what you like. The flour is sifted twice with salt to loosen the flour and distribute the salt evenly throughout.
  • Baking powder. Gives the cake it’s lift, as it’s the only leavening agent used.
  • Extract. I love the combination of vanilla and almond extracts. Wherever possible, always use extracts over artificial essences as you’ll find that the flavours will be deeper and bolder.
  • Brandy (optional). I personally love having brandy in this cake, though you’ll be hard pressed to notice its taste. But you can omit it for a family-friendly cake.
Ingredients for butter cake

Step-by-step: Very rich butter cake

Step 1. Ready the cake pan

  • Grease the sides and base of the pan with softened butter. Dust lightly with flour and tap out the excess. Line the base with baking paper (this is an optional step – I don’t do it with this cake).

Step 2: Sift the flour and salt twice

  • If you are using salted butter, omit the salt. I like sifting from a height a couple of inches above the bowl, to incorporate more air into the flour.

Step 3: Whip up the egg whites with baking powder and sugar

At this step, it’s very important that the mixer bowl you use is dry and free of any grease.

  • In a stand mixer or with handheld beaters fitted with a whisk attachment, whip whites on medium-high speed until they star to turn foamy like soapy bubbles.  
  • Stop the mixer, and sprinkle the baking powder. Turn the mixer back on to medium-high speed, and whip for a few seconds to incorporate the baking powder.
  • Add sugar, a little at a time. Continue whipping at medium-high speed until the whites are just about stiff (please see what this looks like below, or watch the video). This may take several minutes.

Step 4. Whip in the egg yolks

  • Lightly beat yolks before adding to the whipped egg mixture. Start the mixer at low-medium speed.
  • Drizzle in the yolks, a little at a time, and whip until well incorporated. Continue to whip for 10 – 15 seconds after all the yolks have been added. The whipped egg mixture should be quite thick and fluffy at this point, and of a pale cream colour.
  • Transfer the mixture to another mixing bowl, as you’ll need your mixer bowl clean and dry for the next step.

Step 5. Cream butter and condensed milk

  • Now, fit your mixer with the paddle attachment. In a clean mixer bowl, beat butter and condensed milk on medium speed. Stop occasionally to scrape the butter down the sides and off the bottom of the bowl.
  • Beat until the butter mixture turns a pale colour. It should feel light and fluffy on your spatula.

Step 6. Beat in extracts, brandy and eggs mixture.

  • Add the vanilla extract, almond extract and brandy (optional). Beat for 15 seconds to combine well.
  • At this point, pour in 1 cup of the whipped eggs mixture and beat until well incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Step 7. Fold in flour mixture and whipped eggs mixture.

Tip in all the flour mixture, followed by the remaining whipped eggs mixture. You can use either of the following ways to get everything at this stage to come together nicely.


I personally prefer Method 1, and is what I recommend if you’re trying this recipe for the first time.

Method 1: Using a stand mixer or handheld beaters

  • Do not start the mixer yet. Fold lightly by hand for a bit. You don’t need to get it well mixed – just enough to get the flour, eggs and butter mixtures to start combining.
  • Then start the mixer on the lowest speed. Beat until the batter looks smooth and even, about 20 – 25 seconds. Stop the mixer and remove the bowl.
  • Finish folding by hand again. I like finishing up this way, so I can feel if the batter is at the same and even consistency throughout. This way, I can be sure that all the butter is mixed in, as butter tends to sit heavy towards the bottom of the bowl.

Method 2: Folding by hand

This is a lot of batter so it can feel like an enormous exercise to fold all the eggs mixture together with the flour. But this batter does become manageable fairly quickly.

  • For the more experienced baker, you can tip in all the flour followed by the remaining egg mixture, all at once. I do it this way as I feel that I can achieve a well-combined batter with fewer folds. Fewer folds means the batter won’t be over-worked, thus minimising loss of air volume.
  • Alternatively, you can fold in the flour mixture and the remaining eggs mixture in 2 batches, alternating between the two.
  • Be sure to fold until the batter appears homogeneous and has an even consistency. Keep your folding light and gentle, until batter is well combined and smooth.

Step 8: Bake!

Your batter will feel a little heavy at this final stage, but that’s just how this cake batter is.

This cake enjoys a slow, long bake as it is a pretty big cake, after all! So do not be tempted to remove the cake until you’ve checked thoroughly for doneness.

  • Pour into the greased pan and spread the batter to cover all the corners of the pan. Level the surface evenly. Give the cake pan a few gentle taps on the counter to get rid of air pockets.
  • Bake on an oven rack placed in the centre of the oven for 10 mins at 175°C. Then reduce oven temp to 135°C and continue to bake for another 1 hour to 1 hr 15 mins, or until done. 

How to check that the cake is done baking

The baking times suggested here are guidelines, as each oven behaves differently. When in doubt, I prefer to give the cake a little extra baking time.

I usually use a couple of methods to assess when a cake is done baking.

  • Colour and appearance. Check to see if the cake surface has browned evenly to a deep golden brown. Also see if the centre of the cake has fully risen and if the cake has shrunk from the sides of the pan.
  • Firmness and spring. Press lightly in the centre of the cake. When the cake feels firm to the touch and springs back, it has baked through.
  • Check for sticky batter. Insert a bamboo or metal skewer in the centre of the cake. The cake is done if it emerges free of sticky batter. If you’re at the end of the suggested baking time and there’s still some sticky batter, extend the baking time, checking every 5 mins.
Baked butter cake set on a wire rack to cool completely

When done, remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Release the cake from the pan and set it on a wire rack to cool completely.

Because this butter cake is super moist, it will keep well in an air-tight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Pop it into the chiller to extend its freshness, and it will keep well for a week.

Here are more awesome butter cake recipes to inspire your next bake:

Tried this recipe? I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

Save this recipe!

Very rich butter cake
Very Rich Butter Cake

Very Rich Butter Cake

Yield: 20 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

This is the butter cake of your dreams! Savour this marvellously moist and super rich buttery cake, flavoured with a light kiss of vanilla and a tinge of brandy. Makes one 20-cm (8-inch) square cake or 2 loaf cakes.

Ingredients

  • 310 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 10 egg whites
  • 310 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 10 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 455 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened at room temperature (you can use 350 g for a less rich version)
  • 6 tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 drops almond essence
  • 2 tsp brandy (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175°C (350°F). Place oven rack in the bottom one-third of the oven. Grease the base and sides of a 20 x 20 x 8 cm (8 x 8 x 3 in) cake pan with butter. Dust lightly with flour, tap out the excess.
  2. Sift flour with salt twice.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites on medium-high speed (speed 4 on Kitchen Aid mixer).
  4. Once whites get foamy, stop the mixer and sprinkle baking powder over the whites. Turn the mixer back on, and whip to mix well, about 5 - 10 seconds.
  5. Next, add sugar, a little bit at a time. Continue whipping on medium-high speed until thick or just about stiff peak stage.
  6. Now reduce speed, and drizzle in the beaten egg yolks bit by bit. After all the yolks have been added, continue whipping for 30 seconds until thick and creamy. Pour out into a large mixing bowl.
  7. Clean the mixer bowl and dry thoroughly. Place butter and condensed milk in the bowl. Fit the stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed (speed 3) until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add vanilla extract, almond extract, and brandy (optional). Beat for 15 seconds until well combined.
  9. Add one cup of whipped eggs mixture and beat for 30 seconds till well mixed.
  10. Tip in all the flour mixture, followed by the remaining whippped eggs mixture. Do not start the mixer yet. Fold lightly by hand to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  11. Then start mixer on the lowest speed. Beat until the batter is smooth and even, about 20 - 25 seconds. Stop the mixer and remove the bowl. Finish folding batter by hand, until it is smooth and is of the same consistency throughout. (Alternatively, you can fold the batter entirely by hand.)
  12. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Level the surface evenly.
  13. Bake at 175°C (350° F) for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 135°C (275° F) and bake for a further 60 to 75 minutes. Note: This cake needs to bake slowly and for a longer period of time.
  14. To test for doneness, insert a bamboo or metal skewer into the centre of the cake. When it emerges clean, remove pan from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 337Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 351mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 0gSugar: 19gProtein: 5g

All nutritional values are approximate only.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

194 Comments

  1. Hi, Izati, yes you can. Depending on the design of your bundt pan, I would suggest greasing all the grooves really well to facilitate release after baking. Happy baking!

  2. Hi, can i use bundt pan instead?

  3. Hi Stefanie, thank you for writing in. My square pan is 3″ deep and I do apologize, I should have stated the depth as well. The cake should rise, but it won’t rise too much. However, if it hardly rose at all, it could be a problem with either the baking powder having lost its efficacy (it’s happened to me a few times actually!), or the batter was over-worked. A dense and claggy texture usually points to a few things – a batter that was not well mixed or unevenly combined, which could also be the reason why it tastes eggy – or butter was not creamed till light and fluffy. The challenge with this cake is the mixing and folding together of the three different batters – creamed butter, whipped eggs, and flour mixture. If it’s overworked, the whipped eggs will have most some of its volume. But don’t be discouraged, Stefanie! It is a delicious cake! I suggest halving the recipe so that the amount of batter you have to work with is more manageable and easier to handle. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Celia, may I ask what the depth of your cake pan was? I used an 8″x8″x2″ pan and when it came time to pour the batter into the pan, the batter filled the whole pan up. I am a novice baker but I read that the batter shouldn’t fill up the pan before baking. I am wondering whether your pan was deeper than mine because the cake seemed to not be able to rise as well. I baked it for around 80 mins because that’s when my steel tester came out clean. The cake was very dense and claggy on the bottom, but with a crispy top (which was actually my favorite part). The rest of the cake tasted too strongly of eggs. What do you think I got wrong?

  5. Hi Lynette, thank you for trying this out! Not to worry, I’ll try my best to help you sort out the process (my recipe post also shows the step-by-step pictures for easier reference):
    (1) I would recommend you halve the recipe. The original amount makes a lot of batter, so halving it might help you manage each step in the process with more ease and confidence. In this case, you can bake in an 8″ round pan. The original amount was too much for the pan, and needed to be baked in a 8″ square pan.
    (2) Bake at 175°C (10 mins) then lower to 135°C to continue baking until done.If you halve the recipe, the baking time will be slightly shorter. I would recommend checking from 45 minutes, then every 5 minutes after until done.
    (3) FIRST, add the whipped egg batter (1/2 cup only, if you halve the recipe) into the creamed butter mixture and beat until well combined. NEXT, add ALL flour in one go, as well as ALL the remaining whipped egg batter. THEN, fold gently by hand until the flour and egg batter are well incorporated with the creamed butter mixture. If you prefer, you can add 1/2 the flour first, followed by 1/2 the remaining egg batter, then all the remaining flour, followed by all the remaining egg batter. The important thing is to fold gently but thoroughly, until you don’t see any streaks of flour in the batter. The batter should look homogeneous and be of an even consistency. It’s hard to say how long this will take, but it shouldn’t take too long. It’s best to judge from the feel and appearance of the batter. I bake often, so for me, the folding part takes under 30 seconds.
    (4) Could either be that the butter was not creamed till light enough, OR the folding was not thorough enough, so you might have ended up with uneven consistency in the batter.
    (5) Not sure why it would end up spongy, but likely a result of uneven mixing or combining during the steps where you add flour and whipped egg batter to the creamed butter mixture.
    (6) If you do use all-purpose flour, you will need baking powder to help it rise.
    Don’t give up, Lynette! This is actually a medium level of difficulty recipe to start with, so it’s common to experience some issues especially if you don’t bake often. That’s how I started too! Just halve the recipe, and it will be so much more manageable! Wishing you every success! Do share how it works out the next time, ya?

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