Vanilla Buttermilk Layer Cake


Every home cook needs a good vanilla cake in their repertoire. This one is ours. It has a classic vanilla flavor with a hint of tangy buttermilk, it bakes up beautifully, and it stacks easily. It's also versatile, perfect for birthdays, fancy dinner parties, or a simple summer cookout.

Photography Credit: Cindy Rahe

This vanilla cake is my absolute favorite for making fancy layer cakes. It bakes up with little-to-no dome and has a soft yet sturdy crumb, both of which make it ideal for stacking.

I also love the flavor of this cake—classic vanilla with the slight tang of buttermilk. (By the way, the acid in the buttermilk helps keep the cake tender by inhibiting gluten formation!)

Because the flavor is simple, cake is also incredibly versatile and pairs well with pretty much any frosting or filling combination.


I use a reverse creaming method for this cake, which means the butter is blended into the dry mixture until it becomes sandy in texture, and then the liquid is added to create the batter. This is the opposite of the more conventional method, which involves creaming the butter and sugar together and then adding the dry mixture and liquid in alternating stages.

Reverse creaming coats the flour with butter, which (along with the buttermilk) helps make a tender cake with a fine crumb, but that’s still dense enough to handle stacking. I also find that this results in a cake that remains moist and tender even if it’s baked ahead and not served for a few days.



Vanilla Buttermilk Layer Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 3 9-inch round cake layers, 8 to 12 slices

If you would like a cake with super tall layers, bake the cakes in 3 8x3-inch baking pans. If using the smaller pan, you may need to add an additional 5 to 8 minutes to the bake time.


  • 3 cups (374 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (397 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Special equipment:


1 Heat the oven and prep the pans: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 3 9x2-inch baking pans with nonstick spray (or butter and flour) and line the bottoms with parchment rounds.

2 Mix together the butter and dry ingredients (reverse cream): In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and Kosher salt on low speed with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer).

Add the softened butter and mix on medium speed until the butter is incorporated and the mixture becomes sandy in texture, about 30 to 45 seconds.

How to Make Vanilla Cake reverse cream Vanilla Buttermilk Layer Cake reverse cream the ingredients3 Mix in the liquid ingredients: Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract together in a large measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the liquid mixture to the butter-flour mixture in two separate additions. Beat well after each addition and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue mixing until you get a smooth batter.

Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe add the wet ingredients Vanilla Cake Recipe make the batter4 Bake the cakes: Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and smooth the tops. Tap the pans against the counters once or twice to force out any large air bubbles.

Bake on a single rack in the center of the oven for 20 to 35 minutes -- begin checking at 20 minutes and continue baking until the cakes pull away from the sides, the top springs back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

How to Make Vanilla Layer Cake fill the pans

5 Cool the cakes: Set the cakes in the pans on wire racks and cool for 15 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and allow to cool completely.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. Thank you!

Products We Love

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

Cindy Rahe

Cindy Rahe is the recipe maker and picture taker behind Hungry Girl por Vida. She loves to bake from scratch and make things that taste as good as they look. Cindy was born near Seoul but grew up in California and Nevada. She believes strongly in homemade birthday cakes, creamy coffee, and making room for dessert.

More from Cindy

12 Comments / Reviews

No ImageVanilla Buttermilk Layer Cake

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Kathleen

    Can I use reduced fat buttermilk for this cake?

  2. Rebekah

    Do you have a suggestion for how to make this recipe with half oil? First time I tried adding oil with liquid ingredients and cakes fell flat. Not sure if because of that or ingredients weren’t room temp enough.

    Show Replies (2)
  3. barb

    This was amazing. The cake was so moist. It reminded me a little of a milk cake. My family and guests loved it so much that I was still slicing it while those who had the first slices were asking for seconds. I frosted with whipped cream this time, but will try the swiss meringue next time.

  4. Susan Dawson

    Any tips on how to modify this recipe for baking at 5800′?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Kim

    I made the cake today for my birthday, it turned out very good. Everybody likes it! Thanks


View More
Vanilla Buttermilk Layer Cake How to MakeVanilla Buttermilk Layer Cake