Cakes

Betty bought a bit of better butter

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A long time ago, I started looking for the ultimate butter cake recipe. You would think something as basic as a butter cake would be easy to master but no, it isn’t. I could never get the proportions, nothing tasted rich enough. And I didn’t want to have those cakes from my neighborhood bakeries as a yardstick because I knew they were made with magarine and not real butter, and likely had preservatives and flavorings in them… but the truth was, they tasted good. And my trial butter cakes were not matching up to them.

Then I came across a post on someone’s blog -it slips my mind who- and he had said that his aunt, a legendary butter cake baker, swore by the tinned Golden Churn brand of butter. So I promptly when out and bought a few tins. Fyi, these tins are REALLY expensive. Look for Golden Churn, not Golden Fern which is cheaper. The Golden Churn tin butter has a very distinctive bovine smell, almost like pure ghee. Its butterfat content (the thing that makes butter creamy and rich) is also higher than the normal block Golden Churn butter.

Okay, so now that I had my superior butter, I went searching for a fantastic recipe to use it in. After much online browsing and sending a few pleading email for people to share their recipes with me, I decided to try out 3 versions. They all worked wonderfully, but each had their own unique flavor. Before giving you the lowdown on each contender, let me share a few butter cake tips I picked up:

1. Use good butter. Pretty obvious but I still have to point it out. Look for tinned Golden Churn or European butters like Lurpak or President. The higher the butterfat content (above 82% is good), the richer your cake. I like the taste a little salt gives so if you’re using unsalted butter, remember to add a small pinch of salt in your batter.

2. Room temperature is your best friend. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Anything cold will cause the batter to curdle. Take butter, eggs, milk etc. out of the fridge at least 30 mins ahead of time.

3. Cream the mixture evenly. Uneven creaming causes some pockets of the baked cake to be darker than others, because bits of sugar that have not been creamed well with the butter and eggs cook faster than the rest of the cake. Most electric beaters do not reach the corners and bottom of the mixer bowl, so you have to stop the machine every 3 minutes and scrape down the sides and bottom with a spatula. Do this 3-4 times during the creaming process to ensure that the batter is even. Also, make sure to cream the butter and sugar long enough. You want it to be a very pale yellow, almost white.

4. Do not use dark or non-stick cake pans. They cause the cake to brown too much and develop a tough and chewy crust. Not what you want in a moist, fluffy butter cake.

5. If you find your cake cooking too quickly, i.e. top is brown but the inside is still wet and uncooked, cover the top of the cake loosely with a large piece of aluminium foil. This prevents the top from getting darker while the rest of the cake continues to cook.

6. Slice your completely cooled butter cake with a serrated knife, in a slight sawing motion to retain its fluffy texture. If you cut it with a flat edged knife, the delicate crumb gets compacted and the cake becomes dense.

Okay, that’s all I can think of for now. Here are the cakes, with a short commentary for each.

NgShanna’s Ultimate Butter Cake

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This was the butter cake I was looking for. SiNfULLy rich, moist and deliciously fragrant. Can you imagine 10 egg yolks and 375g of butter in one puny 8″ cake?? And I think the addition of melted butter made the cake even more moist. When I pressed down a little on a slice, I could almost see the butter oozing from the crumb. *immediate coronary* But it tasted divine and the texture was perfect. Although I won’t be making it too often, because of health concerns (I don’t usually bother about calories but this IS a little overboard), this is the recipe I’d go to for a special occassion.

The recipe: 

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375g butter

10 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1. Melt the butter in the microwave or over gentle heat on the stove. Leave to cool.

2. Lightly grease and line the bottom of an 8″ round cake pan. Preheat oven to 165 degree C.

3. Cream yolks and sugar until creamy and pale yellow. Remember to scrape down the sides and bottom periodically.

4. Add in the cooled melted butter and vanilla.

5. Sift the flour and baking powder (and a pinch of salt if using) and fold carefully into the creamed mixture.

6. Scrape into pan and level surface. Bake for 45-60 mins until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Yochana’s Butter Cake

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This was an interesting recipe that called for the eggs to be seperated and the yolks to be added to the butter mixture. The egg whites are then whipped and folded into the batter. The resulting cake is light and fluffy, with a delicate buttery taste. Yummy but not as rich as the previous version. I think this would taste good with a buttercream frosting, because the cake is not too heavy.

The recipe:

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250 g butter

100 g sugar

1 tsp vanilla Essence

90 g egg yolk

1 tbsp evaporated milk

200 g cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

160 g egg white

100g sugar

1. Cream butter, sugar, salt and vanilla essence until light and creamy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times.

2. Add in the yolks one at a time and beat until creamy. Add in evaporated milk.

3. Fold in seived cake flour and baking powder.

4. Whisk egg white and sugar until it holds soft peaks and fold gently into the creamed mixture

5. Pour into a 20 cm round tin (lightly greased and bottom lined) and bake at 175C for about 45 mins or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Doris Greenspan’s Butter Pound Cake

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This was a pound cake recipe so it wasn’t all that light. And it was the driest cake of the lot. But I must say that it was delicious when the slices were warmed up and slathered with some butter and jam. This wasn’t really a butter cake, but on the whole, it was a good cake.

The recipe:

I’ve followed this recipe from Sugar and Spice, which I think is superbly detailed.  

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21 thoughts on “Betty bought a bit of better butter

  1. Your butter cakes look so scrumptpalicious.Though I am not a butter cake fan being a die hard chocoholic,I think I might become a convert after drooling over your post.
    Thank you too for the recipes.I shall make one this weekend,soon as I get the Golden Churn butter.I had often passed this butter and given it a miss,assuming anything canned to be akin to margarine(ugh).

    I hope you can reply to my questions(sent to your e-mail) soon,for I can’t wait to start baking after your inspiring blog.Thanks again.

  2. Oooh… the ultimate butter cake is so SINFUL! What I wouldnt give to try a bite… but I dont think I’d have the courage to actually make it. I’m fat enough as it is! :) Your photos as usual drool-worthy!

  3. Gosh! You actually tried my Ultimate Butter Cake recipe! Glad that its sinful! And yes, this should only be for special occassions! I can’t afford to be putting on more weight! Wahahhaa….

    Do try with a bit of the semolina flour, it will have a slightly crunchy taste to it!

    All the best!

  4. Hi Chitz, Oh My, Golden Churn……. brings back fond memories of fragrant butter cakes baked with the one and only available Australian Butter at that time.

    And my late Father having his daily toast spread with this butter only, nothing else, no Lo-fat Margarine would pass his lips. And Maybe thats why he lived to almost 98 years!!!

    No wonder your cakes are divine!! Enjoy, Mrs Singh

  5. Fourleafclover, hah, thanks!

    Dear Meeso, Golden Churn is an Australian butter that is quite popular in Spore, especially with my parents’ generation. To use Golden Churn was the height of luxury back then, and my dad gets excited when I include it in my baking even now. *grin*

    blueseaglass, how I wish we had farmers’ markets here in Singapore!!

    Michelle, thanks for so graciously sharing the recipe. Yours looked divine and that’s one of the reasons I decided to try it out myself.. :)

    Angela, hope you tried and liked this cake!

    Shyam, with that much butter and egg yolks, the cake is really really definitive of the word ‘sin’. But what to do?? It tastes so darn good!

    Shanna, thanks so much for sharing the recipe. I had copied it down religiously but it was a long long time before I had the chance to try it. But it was worth the wait… super moist and delicious. I’ll definitely try out the semolina version!

    Thanks Maya.. And I was lucky with these recipes. The cakes baked so prettily. Many a time, I get majorly erupted cake domes.. but that’s where my serrated knife comes in. heh.
    Hope you get to try out the butter cake soon!

    Mrs Singh, your father sounds lovely… what a lucky man, to be able to enjoy the luxury of Golden Churn on toast! :)

  6. hi…
    your cake looks lovely.
    how much is the price of Golden Churn 454g in Singapore? Here in Malaysia esp KL, we have only the 340g.

  7. I agree, Dorie’s cake is heavy and a bit dry. I will try Shanna’s recipe, can’t believe how many egg yolks.. I’m sure it’ll be fantastic!

  8. Hi there beautiful,
    Im new to your wonderful yummy blog. The butter cake recipe that requires 10 egg is sure a lot. Just wondering, can the whole recipe be halfed for a smaller cake? Im a beginner and simply hopeless when it comes to baking… sigh..

  9. I’m new as well and I think it’s a really stunning blog! So helpful, so informative and really novel!

    Thanks so much for all this – I’ll definitely try them all. I love butter cake and always look for new ones, always going back to my “ouma’s” one. Will certainly get back to you on these.

  10. hi i would like for you guys to bill me and ship directly to 4 or 5 different addersesses here in America. So let me know …… i was in (NZ) for 3 weeks a few weeks ago. Very nice very nice indeed. Thank You Bob Shannon

  11. I fully agree with you that a simple butter cake is more finicky to bake than say a choc cake! And thanks for sharing your butter cake tips.

    Oh yeah, btw I use the golden churn butter for making pineapple tarts. The aroma is devastatingly beautiful! Shhh…

  12. 375g butter

    10 egg yolks

    1 cup sugar

    1 1/2 cups plain flour

    1/2 tsp baking powder

    1 tsp vanilla

    hello vanilla is different from vanilla essence or the same?
    how does vanilla look like actually :) ?

  13. Hi there!

    I tried this recipe of yours (The Ultimate Butter Cake) for my aunt who loves this type of cake. While it came tasting divine – soft, buttery and just sweet enough, I believe the temperature was abit off. The top of my cake peaked, the sides and top browned and hardened alot, while the centre remained quite uncooked. So, I lowered the temperature towards the end to 150 deg. cel. and also covered the cake with foil. When ready to eat, I just sliced off the slightly hard sides (which tasted lovely and were like soft biscuits).

    Still, lovely cake and just wish it had looked as nice as yours!

  14. I jumped on the reference to Betty buying a bit of better butter. I’ve met very few people who have even heard of this, my favorite, tongue twister. The version passed down in my family goes:

    Betty Botter bought some butter, “but,” said she, “this butter’s bitter. If I put this bitter butter in my batter, it’ll make my batter bitter.” So Betty Botter bought some butter, butter better than her bitter butter, put the better butter in her batter and made her batter better.

    What’s your version? How did you come to hear it?

    And thanks for some great recipes – we found you searching for eggless c.c. cookies for our Sikh friends here in India.

    Thanks DH

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