I love baking because being known as the bringer-of-cake is pretty great. I truly and deeply believe in the magic of homemade birthday cake, and I basically want everyone to give it a shot at least once.
Enter this two-bowl cake designed to be easy to put together, like a boxed cake, and perfect for any party!
How to Make Vanilla Cake
The cake has a soft crumb and goes heavy on the vanilla to hit some nostalgia buttons.
There’s a little butter that gets worked into the dry mixture, which keeps the cake tender and adds a little flavor. I also use oil in this cake because it keeps the cake from drying out.
The perfect frosting for this cake is a basic vanilla buttercream (sometimes called American Buttercream), which is a simple mixture of butter, powdered sugar, cream, and flavoring whipped together until fluffy and spreadable. This cake would be great with pretty much any frosting you love.
Cake Flour vs. All-Purpose Flour?
I tested this cake with both cake flour and all-purpose flour. Both work great! You can do a direct substitution (by weight) with no problems.
The cake flour makes for a slightly more tender cake, and in my opinion, gives you a little more wiggle-room in the way of over-mixing since it has less protein (over-mixing + protein = gluten + chew).
What Size Cake Pan to Use?
This cake is baked in a 9x13-inch rectangular cake pan, which is a great size for potlucks and parties.
It can also be baked as two round, 9-inch layers for a layered cake. The round layers can potentially bake more quickly, so be sure to check them after about 22 minutes in the oven.
How to Store and Freeze This Cake
I usually make this cake the night before, just because I like to split up my baking and frosting days (a lot of cake moves through my kitchen!), but this cake is fine baked the same day or in advance.
If you’re making the cake a day ahead, just cool and wrap it well with plastic and leave it at room temperature until you are ready to frost the cake.
If you want to bake the cake even further in advance, bake and cool the cake as directed. Then turn the cooled cake out and wrap it well in a double layer of plastic wrap, and freeze for up to two weeks.
Since buttercream frosting is pretty easy to make, I always wait to frost the cake the day I serve it. However, if you want, you can make the frosting in advance and store it in an airtight container in either the refrigerator (for several days) or the freezer (for several weeks).
Defrost the frosting on the counter at room temperature and beat vigorously with a mixer to fluff it up again.
There's No Such Thing as Too Much Cake
- Get ready for some creamy, milky goodness with Tres Leches Cake!
- Vanilla not your thing? I get it. Try this easy Sour Cream Chocolate Cake!
- Get a little fancy and dress this Vanilla Buttermilk Layer Cake with fresh berries!
- Eat cake and your vegetables too with Grandma's Spiced Zucchini Cake!
- This Gluten-Free Lemon Almond Cake is light and airy!
Homemade Vanilla Cake
- 2 1/4 cups (288g) cake or all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (57g) very soft unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup neutral oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- 1 batch Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Preheat the oven and prepare the pan:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray a 9x13-inch pan and line with the bottom with parchment paper. If you plan to turn the cake out instead of serving it from the pan, lining it with parchment will ensure the cake releases from the pan easily.
Combine the dry ingredients:
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt together in a large mixing bowl.
Add the butter:
Mix the softened butter into the dry mixture with a hand mixer on low speed until the butter is completely combined and the mixture has a sandy texture.
Combine the wet ingredients
In medium-sized bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, whisk the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla together until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and homogeneous.
Add the wet to dry ingredients:
Pour wet ingredients into the flour and butter mixture and beat with the hand mixer until just a few streaks of flour remain. Finish mixing the batter with a silicone spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake and cool:
Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes until the top of the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack before turning out and/or frosting.