According to Wikipedia, a butter tart is “a type of small pastry tart highly regarded in Canadian cuisine and considered one of Canada’s quintessential treats.”  I believe this definition to be the truest most accurate depiction of the dearly loved ooey-gooey pastry perfection known as the butter tart. And seeing as this nationally proclaimed sweet treat is my husband’s favorite pastry, it clearly needed to be “caked.” I’ve done just that with this epically delicious Butter Tart Cake and I think it’s safe to say that it’s a must-bake for each and every Canadian.

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A butter tart cake with soft brown sugar frosting and topped with mini butter tarts and frosting swirls.

What Is A Butter Tart Cake

The flaky buttery tart shell filled with that ooey-gooey brown sugar filling that has a slightly caramelized top. Oh, it’s pure Canadian yumminess. Sweet warm scents of brown sugar will waft through the kitchen as the brown sugar cake layers bake to golden perfection. I dare you to make the raisin filling and not eat it by the spoonful on its own with its bold brown sugar flavor and a teeny hint of tang. This Butter Tart cake is everything yummy about the Canadian classic pastry. A butter tart cake with soft brown sugar frosting and topped with mini butter tarts and frosting swirls.

How To Bake A Pie Crust For Cake Layers

I’m a cake girl. Cake is 100% my comfort zone. Pie, on the other hand, scares the bejeebers out of me. So I skipped that step with a store-bought crust. If you feel competent in your pie game, please feel free to make your own. And if you do, shoot me your recipe! I wanted to maintain that flaky crust in the base of each cake layer so I baked the shells first according to the package instructions. And it worked like a hot darn. The crust maintained its flakiness even with the soft cake baked on top. A slice of cake sitting on a plate in front of the cake. The slice has two layers and a dark brown raisin filling in between the two cake layers.

What Is Butter Tart Filling

Okay…here comes to controversial part: raisins. I’m pro raisins in a butter tart but I do know how heated this debate can get so know that you can go with or without raisins in the filling. Without is wrong 😉 but hey, you do you boo. Or you could even get real crazy up in here and put in some pecans instead. Now that would be totally delicious and totally acceptable. If you do go with raisins, put them in a bowl covered with hot water to soak for about 10 minutes before mixing them in.

How To Make Butter Tart Filling

First, in a heatproof bowl, gently beat the eggs until slightly frothy and set aside. In a pot over medium heat add the brown sugar, butter, and water and bring to a rolling boil. Next, remove it from the heat and slowly pour the boiling mixture into the mixed eggs while whisking continuously. After it is combined return the entire mixture back to the pot and again to medium heat. Continue to whisk until the mixture starts to boil once more and starts to thicken. Once the filling mixture has thickened remove it from the heat and add in the extract, salt, and vinegar and mix until combined. Last but not least, once combined, drain the raisins and add them in. Let this filling mixture cool completely before using it in the cake. A picture of a cake top with mini butter tarts and frosting swirls all around the edge.

Spiced Rum Buttercream

Let’s talk buttercream. Brown sugar spiced rum buttercream in fact. And it’s glorious. Like so truly glorious that I kinda want to keep a bowl of it in my fridge a eat it by a spoonful on a daily basis. A half a cup of brown sugar gets creamed in with the butter and shortening and then comes all the extra ingredients. I used rum extract because well children but you could totally use a splash of real rum. Last, add in some cinnamon and wham! The most glorious brown sugar spiced rum buttercream you’ll ever eat. Seriously. You’ll write home about this buttercream. Slap it all together and you have yourself a slice of iconic Canadian confectionary yum Butter Tart Cake. Three slices of cake on a white table with a light brown linen. Each slice is on a white place and has a fork resting on each plate.

Canadian-Inspired Baking

Here are a few other iconic Canadian treats:

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A butter tart cake with soft brown sugar frosting and topped with mini butter tarts and frosting swirls.

Butter Tart Cake

  • Author: Katie
  • Total Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Yield: 14 Slices


We all know and love the classic Canadian Butter Tart. I’ve taken it a step further with this delicious Butter Tart cake recipe. Each brown sugar cake layer is baked on a pie crust, filled with ooey-gooey raisin butter tart filling, and covered in a whipped rum buttercream frosting. The perfect cake to celebrate Canada Day!


Brown Sugar Cake

  • 1 package (2 x 9 in.) dairy-free deep-dish pie shells

  • ⅓ cup dairy-free salted butter, room temperature

  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar

  • ½ cup egg whites (approx 4 egg whites) room temperature

  • ¼ cup dairy-free yogurt, room temperature

  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour, sifted

  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder

  • ½ tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt

  • ⅔ cup dairy-free milk, room temperature

Butter Tart Filling

  • ¾ cup brown sugar

  • ½ cup water *feel free to use some rum here if you want

  • ⅓ cup dairy-free salted butter

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 cup raisins, soaked

  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt

  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar

Brown Sugar Spiced Rum Buttercream

  • 1 cup dairy-free salted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup vegetable shortening

  • ½ cup brown sugar

  • 6 cups icing sugar

  • 2 tsp. fine sea salt

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 tsp. rum extract *

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

  • Decor: mini butter tarts


Brown Sugar Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick baking spray.

  2. Remove pie shells from the package and with a sharp knife trace around the bottom edge of an 8-inch pan on each shell.

  3. Place each pie shell in a prepared cake pan and bake according to package instructions.

  4. Let each pie crust cool in the cake pan while preparing the cake batter.

  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream butter and brown sugar on high for 5 minutes.

  6. Add the egg whites and mix on high for 2 minutes.

  7. Add in the yogurt and vanilla extract and mix on high for another 2 minutes.

  8. Combine all the dry ingredients into the mixer and mix on low

  9. While the mixer is on low slowly pour in the milk and mix until just combined. Be careful to not overmix the batter.

  10. Divide batter between pans on top of the baked pie crust and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

  11. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then invert on a cooling rack to fully cool.

Butter Tart Filling

  1. If using raisins, cover them with hot water in a bowl and allow them to soak for 10 minutes.

  2. Whisk the eggs until frothy in a heatproof bowl and set aside.

  3. In a pot over medium heat combine the butter, brown sugar, and water and bring to a roiling boil.

  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly pour into the eggs continuing to whisk.

  5. Pour back into the pot and return to medium heat. Continue to whisk until it comes back to a boil and starts to thicken. Remove from the heat.

  6. Add in the salt, extract, and vinegar. Mix until combined.

  7. If using raisins, drain the water, and stir them into the filling mixture.

  8. Allow to fully cool before filling the cake. *

Brown Sugar Spiced Rum Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on high speed with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. This should take approximately 5-10 minutes.

  2. Add the icing sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and rum extract and mix on low until combined. **

  3. Turn the mixer up to high and let mix for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl when necessary.

Cake Assembly

  1. Place one leveled layer of brown sugar cake on a cake board or plate. Top with approximately 2 cups of buttercream.

  2. Pipe a border of buttercream around the edge and fill with approximately 1 cup of butter tart filling. Top with the remaining layer and apply a thin coat of buttercream all over the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

  3. Cover the cake with another layer of buttercream and smooth sides.

  4. Decorate as you please. I used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe swirls around the top border and placed a store-bought mini butter tart between each swirl. Enjoy!


* Allow the filling to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

** You can use real rum instead of rum extract. I suggest upping the quantity to 1 tbsp.

  • Prep Time: 2 Hours
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 946
  • Sugar: 124 Grams
  • Sodium: 863 Miligrams
  • Fat: 38 Grams
  • Saturated Fat: 18 Grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 17 Grams
  • Trans Fat: 2 Grams
  • Carbohydrates: 149 Grams
  • Fiber: 1 Gram
  • Protein: 5 Grams
  • Cholesterol: 85 Miligrams

Keywords: baking, cake, dairy-free butter tart cake recipe, butter tart cake recipe, dairy-free butter tart cake, dairy-free brown sugar cake recipe, dairy free butter tart cake recipe, butter cake cake, butter tart layer cake