Butter Cake at Dublin Bakery
This old-school bakery offers up an unapologetically rich specimen of butter cake ($5.95/tray). In fact this rich, buttery morsel was so buttery that by the time I returned home, it had dotted the entire bottom of the box with a thin sheen of melted butter. It reconstituted well after a few minutes in the fridge, and made for a delicious accompaniment to a cup of strong coffee.
Dublin Bakery: 3026 Welsh Road, Willow Grove, PA 19090 (map);(215) 659-6533
Butter Cake at Bredenbeck's Bakery
One of the oldest continuously run bakeries in Philadelphia, Bredenbeck's makes a fantastic butter cake ($15.95/cake). It's sort of like a squished, condensed Danish topped with butter and sugar, or like buttercream reconstituted in cake form. Note that this is an item that is not always on offer, so if you want to guarantee that you'll find it, order in advance.
Butter Cake at Mayfair Bakery
What's the secret ingredient in Mayfair Bakery's recipe? Butter, and lots of it. "We use all butter, no cutting it with shortening or margarine," said one proud bakery employee when I purchased the cake, which comes in an 8x8-inch tray ($5.80/tray). The crust is uneven in spots, but the overall taste is spot-on, rich and gooey with a pleasing crackle to the top layer of crust.
Butter Cake at Holmesburg Bakery
Holmseburg Bakery's butter cake ($5.99/small) is deceptively simple. It has a dense, almost pound cake-like crust. The lightly crisped top yields just slightly when bitten into, giving way to a gooey, creamy, and extremely smooth topping which is so buttery that it dissolves in your mouth.
Butter Cake at Stock's Bakery
Stock's is known for their pound cakes (which are really more like 2 1/2 lb cakes), which are only made on certain days and always sell out. But they're well worth a visit for their butter cake, too ($3.25/cake). The flaky and buttery crust adds the perfect light crunch to the bottom of the gooey, buttery filling. This one feels like it would melt if you tried to reheat it; I say that as a compliment.
Stock's Bakery: 2614 East Lehigh Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125(map); (215) 634-7344
Butter Cake at Haegle's Bakery
Located on a residential street, this destination of a bakery has been open since 1930. And according to the employee who packed up my hefty rectangle ($5.75/piece), butter cake has been on their menu pretty much since then. It's got a dense, doughnut-like yeast crust topped with an oozey, buttery mixture—and it could easily account for four servings.
Haegle's Bakery: 4164 Barnett Street, Philadelphia, PA 19135 (map) (215) 624-0117
Butter cake at Flying Monkey Patisserie
The fact that this butter cake ($3/slice) isn't quite traditional—the "crust" is more shortbread-y than yeasty pastry—is forgiven at first bite. Almost like buttercream morphed into gooey cake form, this rich, lightly salty cake is decadent, addictive, and definitely worth buying two slices so that you don't have to share.