The Best Basic Butter Cake

by Reynold Poernomo, author of The Dessert Game

Serves 5

These are the easiest cakes I’ve ever made. They’re also mega tasty and so versatile, and you can flavour them in many ways. Try adding a teaspoon of ground cinnamon along with the flour, or top the batter with just one or various fruits, which will also form a garnish. Make fig butter cakes by arranging sliced figs on top of the batter, or fold some crushed frozen raspberries through the batter for raspberry butter cakes – get creative!

I recommend enjoying these butter cakes while they’re still slightly warm, with a hot cup of tea.

You’ll need

250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened
210 g (7½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
200 g (7 oz) self-raising flour
2 pinches of fine salt
3 eggs
185 ml (6 fl oz) full-cream milk
Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
20 g (¾ oz) honey, plus 50 g (1¾ oz) for brushing
20 ml (¾ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
Fruit of your choice (see Notes)


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line five 10 cm (4 inch) spring-form cake tins with baking paper.

Put the butter and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium–high speed until fluffy, about 5–8 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together.

Once the butter mixture is fluffy, add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until combined. Add the milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and olive oil and whisk until completely incorporated. Add the sifted flour and slowly whisk until a batter is formed.

Spoon 190 g (6¾ oz) of the batter into each cake tin. Arrange thin slices or pieces of fruit on top.

Bake the cakes for 35–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each one comes out clean.

Warm the honey in the microwave for 10–20 seconds to loosen it. Drizzle each hot cake with some of the honey and use a pastry brush to brush it over the top of the cake. Allow the cakes to cool a little before removing them from the tins and brushing them with more honey.

Notes: Try using thinly sliced or chopped apples, oranges, figs or berries on top of the cakes. Ensure the fruit isn’t too bulky or it will sink into the batter. You can also cook the batter in one large cake tin. Increase the cooking time by about 15–30 minutes, depending on the size of the tin.