Made from scratch basic Vanilla Cake – buttery, tender, and full of vanilla flavor. Its moist and fluffy texture makes it a great base cake for all occasions!
This recipe yields tall and sturdy vanilla cake layers that are great stacking.
Do you need the chocolate version? Head on to Sturdy Yet Moist and Fluffy Chocolate recipe.
great for wedding cakes and tiered cakes
I’ve been looking for a great basic vanilla cake that can be my go-to vanilla cake recipe whenever I make tiered cakes. I tried many and never found one that is for keeps, until now.
I’ve 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.
Are you thinking of doing a DIY wedding cake? I’ve shared all the recipes, timeline, resources, and tips in this DIY Wedding Cake post.
thick layers for tall cakes
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 a tall cake pan, you have two options:
Option 1: 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.
Option 2: Another option is to use pans that are 2 inches in height (e.g. 6×2, 8×2, 10×2) then divide the batter into four pans instead of two.
I wanted to save some baking time since I was doing three tiers, so I opted for option 1.
The photos you see here were taken while I was doing my final cake for my cousin’s wedding. Unfortunately, I have forgotten to take a photo of the cake right out of the cake pan.
I then further cut each round into half to give me a total of 4 layers, which is what you see in the photos.
ingredients for vanilla cake
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- fine salt
- unsalted butter
- granulated white sugar
- vanilla extract
- eggs (large size)
- fresh milk (whole / full-fat)
tools and 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. This recipe uses a lot of flour – measuring it incorrectly would greatly affect the outcome of your cake.
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 3 inches, see recipe note no. 1.
- mixing bowls and spatula
- toothpick or cake tester
how to make this vanilla cake
- Preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C).
- Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature.
- Grease the bottom of two 8x 4 round pans, then line with parchment paper (Note 1 in recipe card).
Make the vanilla cake batter:
Making this cake involved 3 parts: Creaming the butter and sugar, adding the eggs, and adding the remaining dry and wet mixtures alternately.
In a bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer bowl, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5-8 minutes.
RELATED: Stand Mixer Speed Guide
Add eggs to the mixture, two at a time. Blend until incorporated and scrape the sides as needed.
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.
Torte each cake into 2 to get 4 layers like in the photo below.
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 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 reason 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.
NOTE: This is on the assumption that the height of the cake remains the same – only the circumference of the pan changes.
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.
what frosting goes well with this cake?
I recommend pairing this vanilla cake with swiss meringue buttercream. I love swiss meringue because it’s smooth, silky, and not tooth-achingly sweet! It can be used on a variety of cakes and cupcakes as it can easily be flavored.
You might want to try:
I used this to make a wedding cake and I could say this is the best homemade Vanilla Cake recipe! Made from scratch, moist, buttery and fluffy texture makes it a great base cake for all occasions. This recipe yields a tall vanilla cake – 2 8-inch cakes that are around 3 to 4 inches in height each. I then torte each cake in half, giving me 4 layers (as you see in the photos). #weddingCake #vanillaCake #diyCake #birthdayCake #diyWeddingCake
- 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 1) If you don’t have an 8×4 pan add parchment paper to the outsides of the pan so it will not overflow. To do this start by preparing a long strip of parchment paper, long enough to wrap around the pan. Then fold it into thirds, fold up the bottom, then fold down the top. Grease or spray a bit of baking spray onto the bottom corners of the pan to help hold the bottom circle and sides. To prepare it for the pan, curl the folded parchment paper then put it into the pan and let it uncurl. You may refer to the photo just above this printable recipe.
(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.
Measurements Note: All baking recipes in this site have been developed using weight measurements. Although US volume measurements have been included for your convenience, it is highly encouraged that you weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale to get the best possible results. Due to the sensitive nature of baking, kitchen scales are proven to yield more accurate and consistent results than measuring cups. Enjoy!