Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe
This is the only vanilla cake recipe you’ll ever need! It bakes up soft, buttery, and moist, with a fine, delicate crumb. So easy it’s practically foolproof, and it all comes together in just one bowl. Simple, versatile, and so delicious!
There is no better way to celebrate a birthday, holiday, or big occasion than with a gorgeous layer cake.
But lately, our favorite is this simple, perfect vanilla cake.
WHY BAKE VANILLA CAKE FROM SCRATCH?
I am a firm believer that nothing beats scratch-made. There is something so blow-your-mind fantastic about a homemade dessert that is freshly baked from simple, wholesome ingredients.
I grew up mostly on prepackaged desserts and treats made from a mix, but my grandmother used to bake for special occasions. My mom always made a big deal about her from-scratch cakes and would make sure I tasted. She wanted me to see the difference, and I definitely did!
It made a big impression and I’ve wanted to bake from scratch ever since. And best of all, I quickly learned that it’s not any harder than using a boxed mix. If you keep basics like flour, sugar, butter, and eggs on hand, and you know how to properly measure ingredients, then you can totally do this! This recipe comes together in just one bowl, so it’s super easy and you won’t have a ton of dishes to wash. No sweat!
And you will be amazed at the difference scratch makes. This vanilla cake is so incredibly light, soft, moist, and delicate, and the flavor is off the charts. Buttery, rich, and sweetly perfumed with fragrant vanilla. You’ll never go back to the box!
HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS VANILLA CAKE?
You are going to love how easy this vanilla cake recipe is to make.
You only need one mixing bowl, because it utilizes the reverse creaming method. With this method, the butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients, and then the liquid ingredients are added.
It’s kinda backwards from what you might be used to! Most cake recipes start by creaming the butter and sugar, and then alternately adding dry and liquid ingredients in batches. But to me that is unnecessarily complicated! It’s really too easy to under-cream the butter and sugar, and too easy to over-mix the batter and cause the cake to be tough. Plus it creates too many dirty dishes.
I prefer this method because it’s so simple. Just measure your flours, sugar, leavening, and salt into the mixing bowl, then work in the soft butter until the mixture resembles damp sand. Mix in the eggs, then add the dairy (you can use sour cream or buttermilk in place of the Greek yogurt if you prefer) and vanilla extract, and boom! You’re done. It’s practically foolproof!
WHAT FROSTING SHOULD I USE ON THIS VANILLA CAKE?
This cake is so versatile! It can be filled and topped in all sorts of ways. You can really let your imagination go wild!
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Whipped Cream Frosting
- Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Pastry Cream (filling)
- Raspberry Buttercream
HOW LONG DOES THIS VANILLA CAKE KEEP?
I love a good make-ahead dessert, and this vanilla cake is a perfect example. The layers can be baked up to a few weeks ahead, which really helps to take the pressure off when you’re entertaining.
Once the cake is baked and completely cooled, wrap the layers tightly in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge. They can stay there overnight or up to a few days.
Or, you can freeze them. Slip the wrapped cakes into a zip-top bag and keep them in the freezer for several weeks.
When you’re ready to fill, frost, and decorate, it’s so much easier if the cake is cold. You’ll find it’s much less crumbly that way. I like to frost my cakes straight from the fridge or freezer. No loose crumbs in the frosting!
CAN THIS VANILLA CAKE BE BAKED AS CUPCAKES OR IN DIFFERENT SIZED PANS?
It certainly can! You can find the cupcake version here: Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes from Scratch.
As you can see in these pics, I baked my vanilla cake in three 6-inch pans. I just love the look of a tall cake!
But if you’d prefer to bake it as two 8 or 9-inch layers, you can totally do that. Just keep an eye on the bake time because a thinner, flatter cake will need less time to bake than a smaller, thicker cake would.
I just know you are going to love this vanilla cake recipe! Bake it up for your next big occasion and get ready for tons of compliments!
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- 1 1/2 cups cake flour *
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt sour cream or buttermilk** can be substituted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, mist three 6-inch cake pans*** with non-stick spray, and line them with circles cut from parchment paper.
Place the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer, and stir on low speed to combine.
Add the butter, mixing on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about 1 minute.
Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to be sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Add the yogurt, milk, and vanilla.
Mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, to aerate the batter and build the cake's structure.
Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Cool completely before filling and frosting.
* Learn more about cake flour here: Why Use Cake Flour?
** If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute by stirring 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice into 2/3 cup of regular milk. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, or until thickened and slightly curdled.
*** This layer cake can also be baked in two 8-inch or 9-inch diameter cake pans. The cake layers may bake up slightly thinner, and the bake times may need to be adjusted. Click here for the cupcake version of this recipe: Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes from Scratch.
Some other cake recipes you might enjoy: