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 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 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 overmixing since it has less protein (overmixing + 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 9-inch rounds 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.
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 it.
If you want to bake the cake even farther in advance, bake and cool it 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 try 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 a light and airy treat.
Vanilla Cake in Other Sizes
Sure, you can make this in a 9x13-inch pan or two 9-inch rounds. But the recipe works great for a cupcakes or even a Bundt cake. For cupcakes, bake for 15 to 18 minutes. For a Bundt cake, bake for 45 to 55 minutes. You should be able to get 24 cupcakes from this recipe.
Keep the Cake Light and Fluffy
- Make sure your baking soda and powder are fresh.
- Spoon the flour into the cup and level it off with the back of a knife—don’t pack it in. Alternatively, measure the flour using a kitchen scale for the most accurate measurement.
- Although you can use all-purpose flour, using cake flour will give you a fluffier cake.
- If you want a moister cake, sub the milk with buttermilk.
- Be sure to use a light touch and not overmix the batter.
Try These Frostings for Vanilla Cake, Too!
- Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
- Extra-Rich Chocolate Frosting
- German Buttercream Frosting
- Chocolate Ganache
- Whipped Cream Frosting
Best Vanilla Cake
2 1/4 cups (288g) cake flour, or all-purpose
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup neutral oil, such as canola, vegetable, or safflower
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 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:
In a large mixing bowl. whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.
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 a medium-sized bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, whisk together the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and homogeneous.
Add the wet into the dry ingredients:
Pour the 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 to 30 minutes until the top of the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack before turning out and/or frosting and decorating.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 11g||14%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||18%|
|Total Carbohydrate 45g||16%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 26g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|