My Butter Cake Experiment: What's The Best Method?


Every home baker should have at least one good butter cake recipe. It should be moist, flavourful, buttery, with a tight structure and dense enough to bear the weight of all icings, including sugarpaste/rolled fondant, and the weight of additional cakes stacked on top. It is one of the most versatile staple cakes, so having at least one good go-to recipe is a must.

A butter cake recipe search on google delivers a bewildering number of recipes, all using different methods, different ingredients, pan sizes, and it goes on. So, I decided to embark on a Butter Cake experiment - bake three butter cakes using the same ingredients but with different methods. Let’s see how the end results differ in taste and texture, and work out the best method for a Butter Cake. Enquiring minds want to know!

These are the ingredients used for the three Butter Cake recipes (note: I finally used 3 eggs, instead of 4)

There are three methods of baking a butter cake

  1. Creaming Method

  2. One Bowl Method

  3. Combination Method

Success Factors for a Good Cake?

  • All ingredients must be at room temperature, to avoid affecting the volume of your cake. Sally's Baking Addiction says it best, "When at room temperature, eggs, butter, and other dairy ingredients form an emulsion which traps air. While baking in the oven, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy baked good." I find a little planning goes a long way. Just take the ingredients out of your refrigerator an hour before you start, and you should be good to go.

  • Start the oven at the required baking temperature 15 minutes before you need to use it. An oven thermometer is essential to ensure that the oven is at the correct temperature. You should also keep an eye on the cake in the oven and adjust the temperature or baking time when needed.

  • Sift together the flour and baking powder to ensure a uniform distribution.

  • Creaming of the butter and sugar in the Creaming and Combination Method, which produces air bubbles needed for a good volume, is the most important step in these methods and cannot be rushed. Start at low speed to produce the bubbles by forcing the sugar crystals to rub against the butter. Remember not to turn up the speed of your mixer to medium or high immediately when you start this step, as this will destroy the bubbles, and you will end up with a deflated, hard cake. As you beat, the bubbles will get larger and stronger, so you should gradually increase the mixer speed to medium. Beat until the mixture lightens in colour and looks creamy, then stop. Do not over-beat as this will destroy the air bubbles.

The Verdict?

Each butter cake loaf looks similar to the others, so I have glazed them in different colours for easy identification.

A close up of the texture of the different methods

All 3 butter cakes baked well and met the criteria as flavourful staple decoration cakes able to hold weights of all icings and firm enough to carve into shape easily. The One Bowl method is the quickest and easiest method, and does not require much creaming. The tradeoff is a cake with less volume and is slightly drier compared to cakes baked using the other two methods. In terms of moistness and volume, there is hardly any difference between the Creaming Method and the Combination Method. However, in terms of texture, the combination method is slightly less crumbly than the creaming method.

The Creaming Method still remains my preferred method. The Combination Method is the most time consuming, and the result is very close to the cake baked using the Creaming Method, which is comparatively straightforward. I love the texture, denseness, buttery flavour and the volume of the Creaming Method.

Nutrition Disclaimer

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only, and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

Nutritional information for recipes is occasionally offered on this website. This information is provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is a product of online calculators such as VeryWell.com. Although best efforts are made to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. Under no circumstances will this website be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information.

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Butter Cake

Equipment

Measuring spoons

Weighing machine or measuring cup

Whisk

Sifter

8” x 4” loaf pan or 8” round pan

Parchment paper

Aluminium foil

Cooling grid / rack

Mixer

Oven Thermometer

Mixing spatulas

Serrated Knife

Food Colours

Ingredients

For Butter Cake

200gm Salted Butter (substitute Unsalted Butter + ½ tsp Salt)

190gm White Granulated Sugar

180gm All Purpose, Plain Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

3 Regular Eggs

30ml Milk

1 Pure Vanilla Extract

For Lemon Rum Glaze (optional)

Quantity is sufficient to glaze one 8” x 4” butter cake

120gm Icing Sugar

5 Tbsp Lemon Juice (or your preference)

2 Tbsp Rum (or your preference)

Creaming Method

This is the most common method used to bake butter cake, and my personal preference.

  1. Grease and line one 8” x 4” loaf pan (this recipe can also be used in a 8” round cake pan)

  2. Set oven temperature at 170 deg Celsius. (Tip: Oven should be turned on and temperature set at least 15 minutes before using.)

  3. Start the creaming of the butter and sugar. Put butter and sugar into the mixing bowl, and beat on low speed to combine for one or two minutes. Then increase the mixer speed to medium. Beat until mixture comes light and creamy.

  4. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each addition.

  5. Add milk, and then vanilla extract, beating to mix after each addition.

  6. Sift together flour and baking powder, then add into mixture.

  7. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, then increase to high speed for about 1 to 2 minutes.

  8. Pour into greased and lined pan, then put into the oven.

  9. Bake for about 60 minutes, checking the oven after 50 minutes. If the top of the cake looks dark but the middle is not done yet, place a piece of aluminium foil loosely on top to prevent further browning.

  10. When toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, the cake is done. Place the cake, still in the pan, on a cake rack and leave for at least 15 minutes. You can gently nudge the cake out of the pan, and leave on the cake rack until completely cooled.

One Bowl Method

The quickest, no-frills method of baking a butter cake. All ingredients (dry first, then wet) are placed in the mixer and combined together.

  1. Grease and line one 8” x 4” loaf pan (this recipe can also be used in a 8” round cake pan)

  2. Set oven temperature at 170 deg Celsius.

  3. Sift together flour and baking powder, and beat together with sugar in mixer to combine.

  4. Add in butter and 1 egg. Beat on low speed to combine with the flour and sugar, then increase to medium speed and beat for about one minute.

  5. Add in remaining eggs one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate into the mixture.

  6. Add in milk and vanilla and beat to combine

  7. Pour into greased and lined pan, then put into the oven.

  8. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, checking the oven after 50 minutes. If the top of the cake looks dark but the middle is not done yet, place a piece of aluminium foil loosely on top to prevent further browning.

  9. When toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, the cake is done. Place the cake, still in the pan, on a cake rack and leave for at least 15 minutes. You can gently nudge the cake out of the pan, and leave on the cake rack until completely cooled.

Combination Method

(adapted from Mrs Ng SK's Butter Cake)

This method requires the separation of egg yolks and egg whites. The egg whites are whipped and then folded into the creamed mixture.

  1. Grease and line one 8” x 4” loaf pan (this recipe can also be used in a 8” round cake pan)

  2. Set oven temperature at 170 deg Celsius.

  3. Cream butter and 140gm sugar into the mixing bowl, and beat on low speed to combine for one or two minutes, then increase speed to medium. Beat until mixture comes light and creamy.

  4. Add the egg yolks gradually, one at a time, beating between each addition.

  5. Add in Vanilla Extract and beat to combine

  6. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add half of it into creamed mixture and fold quickly and gently until combined.

  7. Add in milk and stir until combined.

  8. Add in remaining flour mixture and fold quickly and gently, then leave aside.

  9. In a clean, grease-free mixer bowl, beat egg whites until they are foamy.

  10. Add remaining 50 gram sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form.

  11. Put 1/3 of the egg white mixture into creamed batter and stir to combine.

  12. Fold in remaining egg white mixture quickly and gently into the batter until all have been incorporated.

  13. Pour into greased and lined pan, then put into the oven.

  14. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, checking the oven after 50 minutes. If the top of the cake looks dark but the middle is not done yet, place a piece of aluminium foil loosely on top to prevent further browning.

  15. When toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, the cake is done. Place the cake, still in the pan, on a cake rack and leave for at least 15 minutes. You can gently nudge the cake out of the pan, and leave on the cake rack until completely cooled.

Lemon Rum Glaze Method (optional)

  1. Put icing sugar, lemon juice and rum into a bowl

  2. Using a spoon or whisk, stir until combined

  3. Colour using food colour if preferred, then drizzle over cake

#buttercake #lemonrumglaze

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