Ultimate Vanilla Cake Recipe

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This vanilla cake recipe has been years in the making!

While a yellow cake or a white cake can be the same as a vanilla cake, my version is differentiated by the fact that it has a strong vanilla flavor – it has real vanilla beans in the batter and gobs of vanilla extract. It tastes like the very best vanilla bean ice cream in cake format!

The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe

After I posted my ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe, I was asked about converting it into a cake recipe at least twice a month.

That post has over 400 comments, most of them talking about how it’s one of the best vanilla cupcake recipes ever. It’s definitely my favorite and I’ve used it as a base recipe for countless other cupcake recipes.

So, of course, readers always want to know how much cake the recipe would make and if anything would need to be changed about the recipe to convert it. At the time, I didn’t make cakes at all; I only made cupcakes. So, instead of saying, “Sorry, I’m not really sure,” I decided to turn to a cake baking expert for some help.

Amanda of iambaker originally contributed this content to answer your questions and to share her experience converting my cupcake recipe to a cake.

Thank you so much, Stefani, for letting me hang out in your beautiful online home today! I am honored to have been able to contribute some insight into your Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe because, seriously, it is amazing!

Stefani thought it would be a great idea to convert her world-famous recipe into a cake and I can’t help but think that is brilliant.

vamilla cake

On my blog, iambaker, I make a lot of cakes. I have tried more vanilla cake recipes then I care to admit and have only been truly satisfied a few times.

I would definitely rank this recipe as one of the best vanilla cakes I have ever had!

How It’s Made

I didn’t make any changes to the recipe for vanilla cupcakes because, really, why mess with perfection? But, I do have some tips to use when converting the cupcakes to a vanilla cake:

  • The recipe yields about 3 1/4 cups of cake batter. So, I divided the batter into two 8-inch round cake pans, using just over 1 1/2 cups per pan. While a perfect dome is essential in a cupcake recipe, it’s not always the best result for a cake maker. I adore this recipe so much that I didn’t want to waste one single crumb, so I used a number of tricks to help create a level cake. Every trick, that is, except leveling the cake with a knife. Did I mention that I didn’t want to waste a single crumb? In the end there was still a slight dome, but that is easy enough to work with.
  • I baked the cake at 350 F for 19 minutes in my convection oven. I recommend checking the cake at 18 minutes; simply insert a toothpick into the cake and if it comes out clean the cake is done. Make sure the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan as well.
  • Allow cakes to cool to room temperature in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack.
  • Since this cake has such a beautiful fine crumb, I chilled my layers prior to frosting. If the cake is too soft when applying frosting, it can tear and crumble. I wanted to avoid that at all costs with this masterpiece!
vanilla cake

All in all, I would say that this is a fantastic and delicious cake.

Thanks so much for your generous hospitality, Stefani!

Expert Tips and FAQs

What Makes a Cake Light and Fluffy?

After lots of trial and error, I learned that a mix of butter and oil made for the lightest cake while still maintaining a great flavor. Also, using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour helps to lighten up the cake.

What is Cake Flour?

Cake flour is milled from soft wheat and contains the lowest amount of protein when compared to other flours, around 5 to 8%. I recipe tested this recipe with cake and all-purpose flour and the cake flour made a huge difference.

Can You Replace the Sour Cream with Yogurt?

Yes! You can replace the sour cream in this recipe with Greek yogurt. I did a ton of testing on replacing sour cream with yogurt and found that you can barely tell the difference.

What is the Best Frosting for Vanilla Cake?

If you want to stick with the full-on vanilla experience with your best vanilla cake recipe, I suggest frosting this vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. My vanilla frosting is loaded with actual vanilla bean seeds so it tastes like melted vanilla ice cream; you won’t find a homemade frosting that is easier to make.

You might also like trying rolling this cake in sprinkles to make a sprinkle cake! It can be decorated any way you like. It’s a great base for an occasion cake like a baby shower cake, too.Vanilla buttercream frosting on a mixer paddle

Related Recipes

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The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe
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4.34 from 146 votes

Best Vanilla Cake Recipe

This is the best vanilla cake you will ever have!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 180kcal
Author Stefani

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 large large eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup canola oil you can also use vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract use pure, not imitation
  • 2/3 cup whole milk

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  • In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. (For those of you who are new to using vanilla beans, check out this video to learn how to get the seeds out of the bean.)
  • Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
  • Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the mixture as needed to make sure that everything is incorporated into the batter.
  • Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s supposed to be that way.)
  • Divide the batter evenly between two 8″ round cake pans.
  • Bake for 18 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. The cakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
  • When the cakes are done, place them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don’t own a cooling rack) to cool to room temperature. Then, refrigerate before frosting.

Nutrition

Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 124mg | Potassium: 79mg | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 0.3mg
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Recipe Rating




83 comments:

  1. Jojosays:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe and get great feed bake whenever I make it.

    I want to make it into 4 x 6 inch pans for a kitchen tea cake and stack it.

    Will the cake hold the weight .

    Do you have any advice ?

    Thanks

    • Stefsays:

      It should be fine. Go for it!

      • Jojosays:

        5 stars
        Hi I made my the cake and it was a success.

        Now I want to use your recipe to make an engagement cake for 100 ppl so I was thinking of making 9 inch x 3 inch tall x layers but I’m not sure how to calculate the much ….not my area of strength.

        Would I best making two separate batches using 8 cups (250ml…I’m Australian) for each pan .

        Thank you again ,

  2. Shirley Williamssays:

    5 stars
    I have been looking for a good Vanilla Cake recipe but couldn’t find one until I stumbled across this recipe. It is light and moist. I used 7 minute frosting and a little coconut on the top and I am down to my last. Piece of cake….it is an easy wonderful recipe.

  3. Annasays:

    5 stars
    They make the most delicious cupcakes

  4. Lelysays:

    inused this recipe for so many years! It was my go to for friends and occasions. Three years ago i found ojt i was celiac and stopped making it. I lost the recipe and i searched and searched until i found it tonight! I will tey to make this gf ad keep you posted!! My fav recipe of all time!!

  5. Emilysays:

    4 stars
    If using a bundt pan should I double the recipe? My cake turned out good but shorter than id like.

  6. Diansays:

    5 stars
    I have been searching for a light and tasty sponge this meets all the criteria of a good sponge cake I have made it several times thanks for sharing

  7. Jacquelinesays:

    1 star
    Dense, pudding like cake with a horrid taste! Total waste of time & ingredients!

  8. Tony Floressays:

    Hello
    Can I use your vanilla cake recipe with a Bundt pan? Thanks

  9. Heidisays:

    Do you grease and flour the cake pans?

  10. Samanthasays:

    I cant find vanilla bean paste anywhere

  11. khanniasays:

    Can this cake be double in the mixer?

  12. judy sandifersays:

    Do you sift the cake flour?

  13. Angelea Iafornarosays:

    5 stars
    Can this recipe be doubled? I made it as is and it is delicious!

  14. Helenesays:

    5 stars
    Amanda is the cake queen. :)
    The vanilla cake picture is so tempting!

  15. Bintu Hardysays:

    5 stars
    Both my kid and I want to make this sooooo sooooo soooo bad. Nothing better than the perfect cake wit the perfect cuppa for tea time :)

  16. Char Tonkssays:

    How many calories are in this cake recipe and/or cupcakes?

    • Stefsays:

      It’s about 180 calories per serving without the frosting. I finally got software that lets me calculate it!

  17. Christindsays:

    5 stars
    Hands down the best vanilla cake recipe!!!! Oh Wow!

  18. Eainesays:

    5 stars
    I made this as a cake yesterday for my daughter’s graduation party paired with strawberry cream cheese frosting, and it was a huge hit! Not one crumb left! I didn’t change anything to make it into a cake except for baking it in an 8 inch pan vs cupcake liners. Thank you! :)

  19. Andreasays:

    Does this cake hold up on under fondant?

    • Stefsays:

      I can’t answer this for sure. But, I think you want a more dense cake for fondant. So, this might not be your best pick. Sorry for the absurdly long delay!

  20. Wrightsays:

    Great looking cake.

  21. Laetssays:

    Hello girls, can I replace sour cream by Greek yogurt ?

  22. Clarisasays:

    How many people does this cake feed?? Will it feed about 15 people?

  23. Clarisasays:

    About how many people does this cake feed..? I wanna make it for my son’s 9th birthday. There Will be about 15 people.

  24. Clarisasays:

    How many people does this cake feed..? I wanna make it for my son’s 9th birthday. There’s about 15ppl

  25. Sonya Diazsays:

    Love the page

  26. Barbara Asays:

    Is it possible to use this care for an ice cream cake? Will it hold up with freezeing

  27. Maysays:

    Hi. This is the crumb texture i am looking for. Will try the recipe. I love butter flavor in vanilla cakes, can i substitute half of the oil for melted butter or creamed butter?
    Thanks

  28. CakenGifts.in Ghaziabadsays:

    Good recipe!!!!!!
    Tahkns ……

  29. Stephaniesays:

    best cake recipe! I made a homemade birthday cake for my daughters 8th birthday with this and it went down a storm! Now I make the cakes for everyone

  30. Nancysays:

    It said that the cake was baked at 350F degrees in a convection oven. Does that mean that home bakers should increase their regular ovens (that are not convection ovens) to 375?

    When I tried this recipe, my cakes were very flat. I also experienced the pancake-like result.

  31. Cherylsays:

    Thank you all for taking the time to share your beautiful art. Can’t wait to try the cake recipes. #Promisetoshare
    Thanks sincerely

  32. Zielasays:

    The direction says that beat in eggs. In the list of ingredients there’s no egg. Does anyone know how many eggs should be used?

  33. Skylarsays:

    How long would I bake these using 6 inch round pans and how much batter?

    • Donnasays:

      I baked it in 2- 6″ pans and it worked fine! I divided the batter between the 2 pans and it rose nicely! I used all the batter. Baked it for the same amount of time as she directed for 8″ pans – but each oven is different so you’ll need to watch.

  34. skysays:

    Do you please the milk from the cupcake recipe OUT of the cake recipe?

    Also, did you grease the pan?

  35. Sunethrasays:

    i want to make this cake for my grand daughter 1year birthday. Looks beautiful and yam my thanks

  36. Victor Campsosays:

    The photos of this cake are simply divine! I’m inspired to bake this as soon as I get home.
    I’ve tried other recipes and have been a bit disappointed. I blamed myself, thinking I needed more experience. I think I just need the right recipe!

    On a side note, I’ve included this recipe in a blog post I wrote recently. I needed an example of great cake recipes, and this one fit the bill.
    http://www.pmdinteractive.com/2015/06/05/blog-checklist-part-i-of-iii/

  37. Aucourantsays:

    I’ve revisited this cake many times and I like the tenderness and flavour of it but it has two distinct problems: the surface of the cake is strange and dimpled, not smooth like e.g. a Victoria sponge Second, it takes about 27-28 minutes to be fully done. It could be because I use bake-even strips around the cake tin. Nonetheless, I’ll continue to use this recipe because it’s a lovely cake.

    • Aucourantsays:

      And for the person who asked if the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake can be used as a cake recipe: Yes! I’ve been using it. Makes 2 eight-inch cakes in about 28 minutes (with my bake-even strips).

  38. Amysays:

    Wanting to make this into a 13×9. Anyone know how long I should bake?

  39. leorasays:

    Me again! Question, Can I make the frosting ahead of time? Can I use artifical vanilla instead of the cake and frosting? When you say you chilled the cake after applying the crumb coat, can you do that overnight?

    Thanks!

    Leora

  40. Leorasays:

    Hello,

    I am thinking about making these for my daughters birthday party.

    Were having a bunch of guests so I was actually thinking about making cupcakes but also the cake on the other link.

    1. Can I make just one recipe and double it and use half for the cakes and half for the cupcakes? or do you recommend me making them separately.
    2. I am planning on using the frosting, but I want to completely cover the whole cake with mini colorful sprinkles. Will that taste okay?
    3. How many people does the cake itself feed?

    THANKS!!
    waiting for a reply!

    Leora

    • Stefsays:

      1. I think that doubling it should work fine.
      2. Covering the frosting with sprinkles wouldn’t be a problem at all.

      Happy baking!

  41. mannysays:

    Made the cake using two 8″ pans. Each cake yielded only 1″. Both cakes had a slight bump at the top even using some old towels to wrap the pans during baking. However, the problem was resolved by pressing gently on the bump areas with my hands during the cooling stage. It was somewhat dense but moist. Will definitely use the recipe again.

  42. Madisonsays:

    I’m going to try making this cake this weekend for a birthday party. I have a regular oven, so I’m going to try it in the 2 pans at 375° for 22-25 minutes. I’ll try to remember to post about how they turn out.

  43. Sweet Bakedsays:

    I baked this cake three times this weekend and still not happy with it. I do not have a convection oven so I had to guess on the time. It never worked well. It was either over cooked, undercooked, or heavy as a brick. Very sad. Also, is it supposed to be whole eggs or egg whites. I used whole eggs as the recipe did not say egg whites, and my cakes looked like yellow cakes.

  44. Teresa Ochoasays:

    5 stars
    What a lovely cake! I love anything vanilla, so does my hubby, I’m thinking for his birthday, thx!

  45. shafiasays:

    Hi there the recipe sounds good i want to try but cannt find d ingredient page

    Thanks
    shafia

  46. Hilarysays:

    Hi! Has anyone used this recipe for a wedding cake? I’m making a two-tiered (10″ and 8″ with 4 1″ layers each) vanilla cake and am wondering if this is sturdy enough to hold up without supports!
    Thanks!

  47. Sarahsays:

    Question, I don’t have whole milk just 2%. How will it affect the cake and is there anything I can do to substitute the whole milk?

  48. Traceysays:

    Found this a very frustrating cake to make. Out of 6 x 2 bakes 4 x 2 dunked in the middle. I bake vanilla cake for clients so can’t use this recipe any longer. Its too much of a hit and miss situation.

  49. Rosasays:

    5 stars
    I did it for my granddaughter birthday and it was unbelievable good the star of the birthday very very good I wish I could addl the picture.
    Thank you for the recipie.
    A+
    Rosa

  50. Shalenasays:

    Does it hold up well under fondant?

  51. Emmasays:

    I used this as a base to make a Minecraft themed cake for my boyfriend, it turned out so nicely and was delicious! Thanks for the recipe. You can see it on my blog here: http://emsie-lou.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/minecraft-birthday-cake.html

  52. Young Bakersays:

    is there a cake version of the ultimate chocolate?

  53. Nataliasays:

    I used the substitute but my cake just turned out like a flan/ pancake, I’m really disappointed, expected much better!

  54. Nataliasays:

    I used the substitute but my cake just turned out like a flan/ pancake, I’m really disappointed, expected much better!

  55. Ingrid Bravosays:

    Hola, este pastel se ve muy bueno, pero donde encuentro la receta? Gracias.

  56. Cooper's Momsays:

    Can you substitute all purpose flour for cake flour? If so, would it change the taste and/or texture? Also, would the flour measurement be the same? Thank you so much! I find vanilla to be boring, but have someone requesting vanilla cupcakes. I’m excited to give these a try :)

    • Cristinasays:

      Yes, you can substitute cake flour with all purpose flour. For every 1 cup of all purpose flour, take out 2 TBSP and add 2 TBSP of corn starch. Make sure to sift it a few times (I sift mine at least three times). The only thing I’ve noticed I’d that if it isn’t sifted enough it doesn’t seem as tender.

      Hope this was helpful. Happy baking.

  57. melodivasays:

    She uses stefanis recipe, just gives a few tips for baking :)

  58. Gabbysays:

    Can this cake be used with fondant, or will it collapse under the weight of the fondant?

  59. Gabbysays:

    Cake this cake be used with fondant, or will it collapse under the weight of the fondant?

  60. Jerri-Linnsays:

    My cousin taught me that to level the cake without a knife, just use paper towels when it comes out of the oven and simply press the cake down using the paper towels while it is still in the pan.

  61. TracyGsays:

    5 stars
    I USED to think a vanilla cake from the box was the best because I was never satisfied with any of the recipes I tried. But not any more! I love this recipe! It is better than any box mix!

  62. Clarasays:

    5 stars
    That looks absolutely delish!! Going to try this very soon…your food photography is superb :)

  63. Paulasays:

    5 stars
    Made her cupcakes last weekend for a wedding shower. Soooo yummy!

  64. Tenns @ New Mama Diariessays:

    5 stars
    Delicious looking cake! I’ve already pinned and can’t wait to try out!

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