Home Traditions: The Butter Cake

By Andrea Pavee

Our family traditionally celebrates everyone’s birthday with a home baked cake, candles and loud, if off-key, singing of “Happy Birthday”, before everyone tucks into the yummilicious treat.

The only exception is myself, since I am the home baker, and so for my birthday, I get an apple pie, my favourite dessert.

True to form, I made my housekeeper a special treat on her birthday, recently.

Wracking my brain on what to make, I settled for a simple butter cake, and to dress it up, I decided to frost it with my very own strawberry cheese frosting, since I had noticed Julie had a fondness to fruity cakes.

Recipes for butter cakes run into the thousands on the Internet, and the world’s your oyster with the choices you have out there.

For me, I used an old favourite that I found in a cookbook I bought in support of a fundraising for Catholic Retreat Centre.

The recipe there was easy to make and since I had just picked up baking, this was some 20 years ago, I thought I would give it a try. I was not disappointed.

The recipe, courtesy of Madam Julie Tong, called for:

300gm butter

225gm castor sugar

250g self-raising flour

6 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 tablespoons low fat milk.

To begin, preheat your oven to 170C.

Then, butter and line your baking tins. I find that buttering the tins and then lining them makes it easier for the cooled cakes to pop out, later.

Julie’s batter recipe is good for 3 one-pound cakes, but if you would like to pour the batter into a different mould, you can do so. However, make sure that the batter comes up to ¾ of the way to the top. Anything more than that may cause a “lava” burst, where the batter, when rising, exceeds the top of the mould and spills over. Not only will it make a huge mess, your cake could possibly go out of shape, too.

To start with the cake batter, you would need to cream the butter and castor sugar together until the texture turns very light and fluffy, and the colour, a light beige.

Then, add in the eggs, one at a time, beating all the while. This will make the batter even fluffier. Once the eggs are added in, and well mixed, add in spoonfuls of the previously sieved flour until everything is well combined.

To finish, drop in the vanilla essence, then ladle the low fat milk over the batter.

Once done, pour the batter into the already prepared moulds and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or when an inserted skewer comes out clean.

If you find the top of your cake browning too quickly, gently place a sheet of aluminium foil over the top of the cake to prevent burning.

Once the cake was done, and cooled, I mixed 1 block of cream cheese, with 2 tablespoons of St. Dalfour’s strawberry jam, and a cup of icing sugar. Once blended, I poured the mixture over the top of the cake, then sprinkled funfetti liberally over it to make it even more festive.

Then, I left it in the fridge to set before we lighted it, and celebrated with a bang.

With the leftover batter, I made 2 more cakes and sent them over as gifts to Kar Im, who celebrated her anniversary, and Mary, my goddaughter, who also recently celebrated her birthday.

My deepest appreciation goes to Madam Julie Tong for such a wonderfully easy, and delightfully delicious butter cake treat which has since become my own family tradition.


p.s Excess batter can be poured into different moulds or even muffin cups and then shared around. Treats always taste better when shared.

p.p.s Always crack eggs into a small bowl before you pour them into the batter. It is never a good idea to crack an egg directly into the batter as you may have a bad egg!

p.p.p.s Sieving flour is a necessary step which should not be skipped as unsieved flour can form clumps during mixing. Those clumps take an eternity to smoothen out.

p.p.p.p.s. There are many kinds of skewers out there but I find the stainless steel ones better than bamboo sticks as uncooked batter, especially butter cake batter, is more clearly seen on steel rather than on wood.

Posted by Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 15 July 2022

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