The Kentucky Derby – the fastest and fanciest party in the nation, but the preparation, fashion and libations are worth the effort. One of the most affluent events, the parties quickly spread across the country with Kentucky Derby inspired cocktail parties. We are delighted to feature a recipe by Kelly Gray Cakes for the Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake for this year’s party or as a Kentucky Derby wedding cake.
For the Cake:
3 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1 tsp of Baking Powder
1 1/4 tsp of fine sea salt
1 cup of unsalted room temperature butter
2 cups of granulated sugar
4 large eggs room temperature
1 Tbsp of the highest quality vanilla
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste
1 cup of room temperature buttermilk
For the glaze:
1 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of bourbon
1/4 tsp of fine sea salt
*Preheat the oven to 325°F and center a rack in the oven. Grease 4 6” round cake pans with shortening and dust with flour. Knock out any excess and set aside. To save time and mess a store-bought baking spray works great.
*Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the baking powder and sea salt until incorporated well. Set aside.
*Add the room temp butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is visibly lightened in color and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl periodically.
*One at a time, mix in the eggs making sure to mix well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until just incorporated.
*With the mixer on low, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in three batches to the wet batter.
*Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pans pouring evenly among all four. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick pulls clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
*Meanwhile, make the glaze. Add all of the ingredients to a medium sized saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, bringing to a gentle simmer for about 5-6 minutes. Keep an eye on the heat and adjust as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Do not boil.
*Once cakes have cooled remove from pans onto a piece of parchment. Gently poke 8-10 shallow holes into each layer and slowly pour about 1/4 of the glaze evenly over each cake layer, going slow to allow the glaze to absorb.
*Set layers in a refrigerator for about 30 minutes, allowing the cake to keep cooling and the glaze to evenly distribute throughout the cake. You want chilled cakes for the next step.
*Meanwhile, prepare your buttercream by whipping together 2 cups (4 Sticks) of room temperature unsalted butter with 1/2 cup of light brown sugar. Whip until light and fluffy and most of the brown sugar has dissolved. Having room temperature butter is key for this.
*Once the butter and brown sugar have whipped nicely, add 2 cups of sifted confectioners sugar. Continue to whip until fully combined 2-3 minutes.
*Add a pinch of salt (to taste) and whip to combine.
*Remove chilled cakes from refrigerator. Lay a 6” cardboard cake round and apply a dollop of buttercream to it before placing the first 6” round on the board. Make sure the edges of the cake align with the edges of the board. Add a 1/2 layer of buttercream to the top of the cake layer.
*Continue this step two more times, stacking a layer of cake and then a layer of buttercream.
*Once all stacked add the fourth layer and make sure your cake is standing tall and even by rotating it and taking a look from all angles. This should be easy with a chilled cake.
*Place the cake back in the cooler and let sit for 5-10 minutes letting the buttercream between the layers firm up. This will help tremendously when moving to the next step.
*Remove the cake from the cooler and place on a turntable. Using an offset spatula begin adding the buttercream to the edges of the cake working your way around trying to make an even layer of buttercream on all sides of the cake. Place back in the cooler and allow this layer to firm 5-10 minutes.
*Repeat this step again using the frontside of your spatula to add the buttercream and the backside to make smooth sides and sharp edges.
*You can decorate this cake with chocolate drips and heaps of blackberries and blueberries for a show-stopping dessert table centerpiece.
Chef’s Note: “Let’s put it this way, if you were to take a glazed donut and mix it with a boozy rum cake
you would get the Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake. It’s warm delicious notes mixed with the smooth boozy
profile make it the perfect decadent Derby Day treat.”
Tip: This cake is traditionally baked in a Bundt pan but I like to elevate it by preparing it in 6” pans and
stacking them tall and skinny for the ultimate display wow factor.