Made from scratch basic Vanilla Cake – buttery, tender, and full of vanilla flavor! The moist and fluffy texture makes it a great base cake for all occasions.
I’ve been looking for a great basic vanilla cake that can be my go-to vanilla cake recipe whenever I make layered cakes. I tried many and never found one that is for keeps until now. I’ve also used this recipe to make a 3-tiered wedding cake so I can say that while it is soft and fluffy, it is firm enough to use in multi-tiered cakes. As we know, for tiered cakes, it is suggested to stay clear of softer, less stable cakes and filling like chiffon cake, pastry cream, and whipped cream.
This recipe yields a tall vanilla cake, around 3.5-4 inches high per cake round (before torting and levelling), that’s why you would need a cake pan that is at least 4 inches in height. If you don’t have that, line some parchment paper around the pan for extra height. If you wish to have thinner cake layers, simply divide the recipe ingredients in half.
Pair this vanilla cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream for a simply perfect dessert!
GET THE RECIPE: Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Common Questions When Making Vanilla Cake
Do I really need to sift the dry ingredients?
The process of sifting breaks any lumps in flour that would weigh down the batter so your Vanilla Cake will yield a tender (not delicate) crumb. When flour is sifted with other dry ingredients, such as baking powder, sifting helps to combine them evenly before they are mixed with other ingredients. It is important not to skip this step!
Why do I need to cream the butter and sugar?
When creaming the butter and sugar together, the sugar is like punching little holes in the butter and those holes, in turn, will capture air. These little bubbles capture the gases released by your leaveners when baked, giving your cake a lighter texture. A properly creamed butter and sugar should have the color of pale yellow, not white. Using a stand mixer, I typically whip the butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes.
My cake came out a bit dry. What did I do wrong?
There are several possible reasons why your cake came out dry. One common mistake is NOT measuring your flour correctly. If you’re still using cups to measure your flour and other baking ingredients, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of using a food scale ! Baking is an exact science, so one ingredient that’s not measured correctly can totally break the outcome.
Another common mistake is overcooking them. As not all ovens are the same, remember to treat the cooking time stated in any recipe as a guide. Your cake is perfectly done and needs to be removed from the oven when the toothpick/ cake tester comes out either clean or with a few dry crumbs. Always begin checking your cake at the earlier doneness time specified in the recipe. I like to set my timer a few minutes earlier than the shortest baking time called for. You can always bake something longer, but over baked or burnt products are ruined! Always check for doneness about 5 minutes before the suggested bake time.
Adapting This Vanilla Cake Recipe to Different Pan Sizes
The photos you see at the beginning of this post are the 6-inch, 8-inch, and 10-inch vanilla cake, with all the layers sliced and leveled. Here is a chart of the amount of ingredients you’ll need depending on pan size. Follow the same procedure as written in the recipe but you may need to adjust the baking time. Remember that the time indicated below is only a guide as not all ovens are the same. It is a good habit to check for doneness 5 minutes earlier than the shortest baking time called for. If the cake isn’t done yet, check again after 3-4 minutes.
P.S. Do you need to make this vanilla cake in another pan size and shape? Download my free Baking Pan Conversion Chart! I used this formula to convert the 8-inch recipe for 6-inch and 10-inch round pans.
Tools & Equipment You’ll Need
- Ditch your cups and weigh your ingredients – it will give you consistent results every time. Try it and you will never look back on using cups again! There are a lot of reasons why you should measure by weight and entirely a topic of its own – I should write a separate post soon. 🙂
- 6, 8, or 10 inch Round Baking Pans, 4-inches high
- I use and recommend Fat Daddios brand. They heat faster and cools quicker, preventing overbaking. I love that they have straight sides for perfect layers! If your existing pan’s height is below 4 inches, see recipe note no. 1.
- parchment paper
- mixing bowls
- flour sifter or a fine mesh strainer
- stand mixer
- toothpick or cake tester
RELATED CONTENT:Stand Mixer Speed Control Guide
Fluffy and Buttery Vanilla Cake
- 625 grams (22 oz, 5 cups) all-purpose flour
- 18 grams (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) baking powder
- 6 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
- 454 grams (16 oz, 2 cups) butter, unsalted, at room temperature
- 533 grams (19 oz, 2.75 cups) white granulated sugar
- 9 grams (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- 8 whole large eggs, at room temperature
- 488 grams (17.2 oz, 2 cups) whole milk
- PREPARATION. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Grease the bottom of two 8x 4 round pans, then line with parchment paper (Note 1).
- PREPARE THE DRY INGREDIENTS. In a bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- CREAM THE BUTTER, SUGAR AND VANILLA. In a stand mixer bowl, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5-8 minutes.
- ADD EGGS TO THE MIXTURE. Add eggs to the mixture, two at a time. Blend until incorporated and scrape the sides as needed.
- ADD THE DRY AND WET INGREDIENTS. Add the flour mixture in four parts alternating with the milk in three parts, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Remember to add the next flour or milk until just incorporated; be careful not to overmix!
- BAKE THE VANILLA CAKE. Pour the cake batter into prepared pans and spread it so that is it smooth and flat in the pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Cool the cakes on a wire rack before removing them from the pan. Divide each cake into 2 to get 4 layers.
(Note 2) This is quite a tall cake. After torting and leveling, you'll get 4 thick layers. Half the recipe if you wish to have thinner cake layers.