This vanilla cake recipe has an amazing flavor, a soft, cloud-like crumb and is so incredibly moist.
This vanilla cake recipe is the best because it uses cake flour, the reverse creaming method, lots of butter and a touch of oil to keep it moist for days. I have tweaked this recipe countless times to achieve the absolute PERFECT vanilla cake recipe.
There are a lot of delicious vanilla cake recipes on the website like my white velvet buttermilk cake and my white cake recipe which is a great alternative to my vanilla cake if you can’t find cake flour. Or try out our chocolate cake recipe made with dutched cocoa powder. A chocolate lover’s dream!
I have been using this vanilla cake recipe for over ten years for my cake clients with nothing but rave reviews. With the release of my cake decorating book, I found out how popular this cake really has become! This is the cake that turns those “I don’t even like cake” consultations into OMG we need to book you right now clients! Prepare to forget everything you’ve ever known about making a cake from scratch!
Why Is This The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe?
Cake clouds. That’s what we called this cake when it would come out of the oven, warm and delicious! What makes this cake so fluffy and truly the best?
- Cake flour – cake flour has less gluten in it than all-purpose flour which results in a more tender and soft crumb. Cake flour is what we always used in pastry school for the best cakes.
- Whole eggs – eggs not only provide structure to the cake but flavor. Using egg yolks adds an added richness and depth of flavor to the vanilla cake recipe. Bonus points for using free-range eggs which have the most flavor. The darker the yolk, the more flavor.
- Good quality butter – Did you know cheap butter contains more water? The best butter has a high fat content and results in a better flavor in cake recipes.
- Real vanilla – I know vanilla is SUPER expensive right now but for truly the best flavor, real vanilla is key. I prefer a vanilla bean because I love seeing all those little flecks in the cake but any pure vanilla extract is excellent.
- Oil – You might be wondering if that oil is absolutely necessary and I’m here to tell you it is a must. Oil helps keep the cake from drying out, staying soft and moist.
How to frost your vanilla layer cake
After the cakes have cooled and you can handle them safely, wrap them in some plastic wrap and place into the fridge overnight to let the butter inside the cake to fully harden. Or put them in the freezer for an hour if you’re in a hurry.
This will make the cake a LOT easier to handle for torting (splitting in half), filling with frosting and stacking.
Place your first layer of cake on a cake board and spread a layer of frosting evenly over the cake layer. I like to trim off the brown edges with a knife but that is optional!
I frosted my vanilla cake with a healthy layer of my easy buttercream frosting and combined with raspberry puree but it’s just as amazing all by it’self.
Apply a thin layer of buttercream all the way around the cake. This is called the crumb coat and seals in all those pesky cake crumbs. Chill until the buttercream is firm. About 10 minutes.
Apply your final coat of frosting and decorate any way you like!
I decided to just give my vanilla cake a nice rustic buttercream finish and top with some pretty cherry tree blossoms from our front yard. Fun fact: cherry blossoms are edible!
I store my cakes in the fridge until they are ready to be eaten but make sure you let them come to room temperature for a few hours before you do. Otherwise, you’ll be eating a cold cake. Since this cake is butter-based, the cake texture will seem very dry and crumbly (kinda like cold butter). Room temperature cakes taste best!
If you need more information on how to make a cake, check out my tutorial. In this tutorial I go over chilling, trimming, torting, stacking and filling a cake and of course how to get smooth buttercream edges.
Is This Vanilla Cake Recipe Good For Making Vanilla Cupcakes?
Here’s the thing about this recipe, it’s formulated to bake up perfectly flat so it’s not the best in my opinion for cupcakes. If you really want to use them for cupcakes, try my vanilla cupcake recipe instead.
- Reduce the liquid in the recipe by half and omit all the oil.
- To get a nice dome you can put them in an oven at 400 F for 5 minutes then reduce the temperature to 335 F for 10 more minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The extra heat at the beginning will help the cupcake dome up and make a tight connection to the cupcake wrapper.
- Don’t fill the cupcake liners more than 2/3 of the way full or they will overflow and go flat.
Tips For Success Making Vanilla Cake Recipe From Scratch
- Follow the directions. This vanilla cake recipe uses the reverse mixing method which means the flour is coated in the butter before adding liquids. The butter coating stops the gluten from forming as much. Because of this, it is super important that you follow the mixing directions for success. If you don’t mix the cake enough in the first step, your cake could be under-mixed and collapse in the center.
- Ingredients need to be room temperature (or slightly warm). Milk, butter and eggs are at room temperature so that the cake forms an emulsion and bakes up properly. If you don’t do this, the batter will curdle and the cake could fall in the center or you might notice a wet gooey layer at the base of the cake.
- Weigh your ingredients with a scale instead of converting to cups. I know you’re tempted but trust me, you won’t get the right measurements and you’ll be throwing that cake in the trash later. I use ounces but you can convert to grams easily by using a google converter. 1 oz is about 28 grams. Yes, I weigh my liquids too.
How do I adjust for high altitude baking?
Baking at a high altitude? You’ll definitely need to make some adjustments like reducing the baking powder and increasing the baking temperature. Check out my high altitude baking post for more information on adjusting my cake recipes.
Do I have to use cake flour?
Yes, you do. This cake is formulated to use cake flour. You can use bleached or unbleached. The brand doesn’t matter.
The AP flour + cornstarch hack does not work for THIS recipe. Your cake will taste and look like cornbread. AP flour has a higher protein content so it producers more gluten when you use the reverse creaming method.
Not all areas of the world have cake flour, unfortunately. In some places, it might be called something like plain flour or low protein flour. Self-rising flour is not the same thing.
If you can only find AP flour, I suggest trying out. my white cake recipe instead.
Moist Vanilla Cake Recipe From Scratch
Vanilla Cake Recipe
- 13 ounces (368 g) cake flour
- 13 ounces (368 g) granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons (14 g) baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 teaspoon) salt
- 8 ounces (227 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature but not melted
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean pod
- 10 ounces (283 g) whole milk room temperature
- 3 ounces (85 g) vegetable oil
- 3 large (3 large) eggs room temperature
Easy Buttercream Frosting
- 16 ounces (454 g) powdered sugar
- 4 ounces (113.4 g) pasteurized egg whites
- 2 teaspoons (2 teaspoons ) vanilla extract
- 16 ounces (454 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature but not melted
- 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon) salt
- 1 TINY drop (1 drop) purple food coloring to offset the yellow color (optional)
- Food Scale
- Stand Mixer
- Paddle Attachment
- Whisk Attachment
- Cake Pans
- IMPORTANT: This is the BEST vanilla cake because I use a scale so it turns out perfectly 🙂 If you convert to cups I cannot guarantee good results. Make sure all your (cold ingredients) butter, eggs, milk are at room temperature or a little warm. See my post about how to use a scale if you don't know how to measure by weight.
- Heat oven to 335º F/168º C . Prepare two 8"x2" cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan release. For extra security, line with parchment paper.
- Measure out milk. Place 4 oz in a separate measuring cup. Add the oil to the 4oz of milk and set aside. (If you are doubling the recipe, don't forget to double this too.)
- To the remaining milk, add vanilla and room temp eggs. Whisk gently to combine. Set aside.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Turn the mixer onto the slowest speed (setting 1 on Kitchen Aid mixers). Slowly add chunks of your softened butter until it is all added then let everything mix until it looks like coarse sand.
- Add your milk/oil mixture all at once to the dry ingredients and mix on medium (speed 4 on kitchenaid, speed 2 on bosch) for 2 full minutes to develop the structure. Set a timer! Don't worry, this will not over-mix the cake.
- After 2 minutes, scrape the bowl. This is an important step. If you skip it, you will have hard lumps of flour and unmixed ingredients in your batter. If you do it later, they will not mix in fully.
- Slowly add in the rest of your liquid ingredients in 3 parts, stopping to scrape the bowl one more time halfway through. Mix until just combined. Your batter should be thick and not too runny.
- Divide batter into your greased cake pans and fill 3/4 of the way full. I like to weigh my pans to make sure they're even.
- Bake for 30 minutes and check your cakes. Do the "done test". Insert a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. Sometimes wet batter doesn't show up so make sure it's clean and not just wet. Then gently touch the top of the cake, does it spring back? Oven temperatures vary so if it's not done yet, bake for a few more minutes (2-3) and check again until it passes the "done" test.
- Remove cakes from the oven and give them a tap on the countertop to release air and prevent too much shrinking. Let them cool on a cooling rack until they are barely warm.
- After cooling for about 10 minutes, place the cooling rack on top of the cake, placing one hand on top of the cooling rack and one hand under the pan and flip the pan and the cooling rack over so the pan is now upside down on the cooling rack. Remove the pan carefully. Repeat with the other pan.
- After the cakes are fully cooled, carefully wrap them in plastic wrap and place them into the freezer or fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up the cakes and make them easier to handle for stacking.
- After your cakes are chilled, fill them with your favorite frosting and frost the outside. If you're not familiar with decorating cakes, check out my how to make your first cake blog post!
Easy Buttercream Frosting
- Place egg whites and powdered sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Attach the whisk, combine ingredients on low and then whip on high for 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and salt.
- Add in your softened butter in chunks and whip with the whisk attachment to combine. It will look curdled at first. This is normal. It will also look pretty yellow. Keep whipping.
- Whip on high for 8-10 minutes until it's very white, light and shiny. If you don't whip it enough, it could end up tasting buttery.
- Optional: If you want whiter frosting, add in a tiny drop of purple to counteract the yellow in the butter (too much will make the frosting grey or light purple.)
- Optional: Switch to a paddle attachment and mix on low for 15-20 minutes to make the buttercream very smooth and remove air bubbles. This isn't required but if you want really creamy frosting, you don't want to skip it.
- Weigh your ingredients to avoid cake failure. Using a kitchen scale for baking is super easy and gives you the best results every single time.
- Make sure all your cold ingredients are room temperature or slightly warm (butter, milk, eggs, to create a cohesive batter. Curdled batter causes cakes to collapse.)
- You must use cake flour for this recipe. Do not fall for the "just add cornstarch to regular flour" trick. It does not work for this recipe. Your cake will look and taste like cornbread. If you can't find cake flour, use pastry flour which isn't quite as soft as cake flour but it's better than all-purpose flour.
- If you're in the UK search for Shipton mills cake and pastry flour. If you're in another part of the country, search for low protein cake flour.
- When you do the reverse creaming method, you're coating the flour in butter and stopping gluten from developing. This creates a super moist and tender cake. When you add the milk and oil, you have to mix for a full 2 minutes to develop that gluten. This creates the structure of the cake. If you don't mix for the full 2 minutes, your cake could collapse.
- Make your own pan release (cake goop!) The best pan release ever!
- Need more help with making your first cake? Check out my how to decorate your first cake blog post.