Celebrate derby day with an impressive Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake. A slight departure from the original Bourbon Butter Cake, this version is layered with cream cheese frosting and salted caramel sauce.
The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner. I’ve never been but I really think it would be my thing….if I could ever get myself there. It’s the most excited I get for a sporting event all year and I can’t even tell you why. Maybe it’s the gorgeous horses or the brightly clad spectators…there’s just something special about Derby Day to me. Plus….you get to wear a stunningly huge hat that would be utterly ridiculous on any other day of the year. Seriously…you can’t even get away with it at some of the local horse events that happen right in my own back yard. Trust me, I’ve tried. 🙂 I like big hats and I can not lie. (Ok, I know…that was lame but I couldn’t hold back.)
During the winter months, I always begin planning a derby party….just so I can pretend I’m there and wear a gigantic hat without getting the side eye from strangers. I know my friends and neighbors would totally dig it but this year…it’s not happening. Again. Life always seems to throw a wrench into my derby plans, so maybe…just maybe….next year. Or, if some miracle happens…I’ll actually get to attend the REAL Kentucky Derby. I can’t even imagine…that would be killer. Like this cake. This cake is made with Kentucky bourbon…and then soaked in, you guessed it, Kentucky bourbon. It wants to go to the derby too.
Most Bourbon Butter Cakes are made in a bundt pan. I felt that was too simple for derby day. Seriously, where’s the flash, the Lilly Pulitzer-esqe fancy pants frosting. The pecans, the caramel sauce. I mean really…I needed to dress up the cake a bit and decided a simple layer cake with cream cheese frosting was perfect. And don’t be intimated with all the swirls and crushed nuts…they’re hiding things. 🙂 Like some of the crumb that still peaked through my frosting…even though I put a crumb layer on the cake first. And the fact that I still haven’t perfected the perfectly smooth top so I added a swirl of caramel sauce. But then it bled a bit because the cake wasn’t chilled so I did the swirls along the edge…and I think it looks pretty darn amazing.
The best news about this Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Salted Caramel Sauce is that it tastes ridiculous. Like something you would purchase from a bakery….near Churchill Downs (for those of you non-horse lovers…that’s where the derby is held each year.) I credit the rich flavor to the butter used. Make sure you find the best butter you can, there are several varieties available in most grocery stores these days. I used Plugra, it’s rich, creamy and has the smooth butter taste that most brands can’t duplicate. You can eat this stuff with a spoon. Really. Or spread it on toast like a normal human being but do try the spoon.
If you’re hosting a derby party this year, this Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake deserves a spot on your table. Right next to the Kentucky Hot Brown and Pimento Cheese Spread. And don’t forget your flying-saucer size hat.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Plugra butter. All opinions and statements are my own.
Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Salted Caramel Sauce
For the cake
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon. baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup Plugra unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
For the cake soak
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
For the frosting
- 1 cup Plugra unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4-6 cups powdered sugar
For the salted caramel sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 tablespoons Plugra unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place an oven rack in the center position.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating completely before adding the next one. In a small bowl, whisk together the bourbon and heavy cream. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in thirds alternating between the flour mixture and bourbon/cream mixture until everything has been added.
- Pour the batter into two 9 inch cake pans coated with butter and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- For the cake soak:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and bourbon for the cake soak. Brush the bottom of a cake with 1/2 the soak and then repeat with the remaining layer. (Cake can be made in advance and wrapped in plastic wrap after this point, keep at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)
- For the frosting:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until completely incorporated. Once the frosting has reached a stable consistency, turn the mixer to med-high and beat for 2 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy and light in color. Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to 24 hours at room temperature if not using immediately.
- For the salted caramel sauce:
- In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over med-high heat. Continue boiling until amber in color, approximately 2-3 minutes. Carefully stir in the butter and remove from the heat. VERY carefully add the heavy cream and salt. (It will bubble up violently.) Allow the caramel to cool to room temperature before using.
- To assemble the cake:
- Place one layer on a cake plate or serving platter. Spread two tablespoons of caramel sauce over the bottom layer and then spread 1/2 cup of the frosting over the caramel. Top the frosting layer with the remaining cake layer and spread 1/2 cup of frosting over the top layer. Add a thin layer of frosting to the sides and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to allow the frosting to set. Remove from the refrigerator and, using all but 1 cup of frosting, frost the entire cake with an off-set spatula creating a smooth surface all the way around.
- Carefully press the pecans around the bottom half of the cake.
- Pour 1/2 cup caramel sauce into a zip top bag and snip off one corner. Drizzle the sauce on top of the cake being careful to stay one inch from the side of the cake.
- Add the remaining frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a 1M cake tip (open star) and pipe the frosting around the top edge of the cake. Allow the cake to chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Bring the cake to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.