The Best Vanilla Cake Ever Recipe

The simplest things are often the very best. Isn’t that lesson coming through loud and clear these days? That is what this classic vanilla buttermilk cake is all about. The perfection of the most delicious vanilla cake and the smoothest faux swiss meringue buttercream. Stacked evenly and smoothly frosted to perfection.

Mastering this basic cake recipe and presentation will build a foundation for your cake baking and designing dreams. Take a picture, because I know it won’t last a day in your home if you have kids or really, any adult sweet tooth.

Buttermilk is the secret to the dense yet delicately flavored vanilla cake. I trim the sides and tops of my cakes to create a level stacking field. Frost with the classic faux swiss meringue and you have a perfect basic cake to build your portfolio as a home or professional cake designer.

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vanilla cake

The Best Vanilla Cake


Ingredients


Instructions

Notes

King Arthur is my go-to flour.

Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature.

Bake your cake layers ahead and freeze them.  They will last in the freezer for two months is properly wrapped.  Wrap twice in saran wrap and once in heavy duty foil. To defrost, remove from freezer and allow to come to room temperature.  Don’t unwrap the cake layer until they have defrosted.

No buttermilk?  No problem. To make a substitute add 1 TBSP of either lemon juice or vinegar and add enough milk to measure 1 cup.  Gently stir the mixture and let sit for 5-10 minutes.

BEST Vanilla Cake Tutorial
  1. Margie says:

    Is this cake sturdy enough to stack and cover with fondant?

    • donnavb@gmail.com says:

      Hi Margie! Yes, this cake can be covered with fondant and stacked.

    • Englan Sánchez says:

      I’d this sturdy enough for a three tier wedding cake?

    • I made cupcakes out of this recipe. They were a complete fail. They did not rise and stuck to the top if the pan. They had a crisp top. I weighed all my ingredients so they would be perfect. I have made this same recipe in
      a cake and it was delishous. My family ate them anyway.

      • Minette says:

        Starla I’m so sorry the recipe didn’t work for you. I have made the Best vanilla cake often as cupcakes with great success. Often when cakes don’t rise it’s do to old baking powder. I recommend you check the date.

        Also, I’ve found that when baked as cupcakes there isn’t a large crown but that the cupcakes are flat. Hth

  2. Omolara says:

    Thanks you for sharing your knowledge free of charge, may God bless you abundantly on every side in Jesus name.

  3. Valerie Naquin says:

    Beautiful recipe! Thank you for your tremendous effort to create these delicious delightful cakes.

  4. Shaunetta says:

    You are simply amazing! I truly thank God for you. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us!

    • donnavb@gmail.com says:

      Thank you Shaunetta! I so appreciate your comment and I hope you love the buttermilk cake as much as I do.xo

  5. Laney says:

    I’ve been around the cake business a long time and I know how so many struggle in finding a good vanilla cake. This is it. Hands down. The cake has a beautiful flavor and perfect crumb. More importantly it is easy to make. It’s perfect for all levels of baking. Well done.

  6. Lynda Murray says:

    Tried this recipe a few months ago. It was delicious and had the perfect crumb. If I was still in the cake business this would become my new go to recipe for a great vanilla wedding cake!!

  7. Melissa says:

    Reverse Cream method is so easy! Easy EASY recipe, and it tastes delicious. Note: Was out of buttermilk but I used her tip to add lemon juice to whole milk, and it worked perfectly. Very Good Vanilla Cake! Thanks Minette! So happy to have this recipe in my arsenal!

  8. Bunmi says:

    Love it!! Perfect recipe. Made it!! Thank you so much for this recipe Minette. I’ve been looking for a good vanilla cake recipe and this is it!!! I’m a baker. Moist, nice crumb, easy to make and easy to find ingredients especially here in Nigeria where some ingredients in foreign sourced recipes are not always available. Thank you!!

  9. Ronak Mehta says:

    I tried out a cake with the above recipe. The cake was very soft and tasty. Thank you.

  10. Sweetcoco says:

    Thank you so much Minette, you are a gem. Can I use box egg whites/ pasteurized egg whites for this recipe or fresh egg whites only?

  11. Michelle says:

    Hi Minette, can this recipe double or triple easily or I’d it best to make in smaller batches?
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful talent with us!

    • donnavb@gmail.com says:

      Hi Michelle, I have doubled the recipe with success. I’ve never tripled it so can’t advise. If you do triple the recipe, please let me know. Thanks!

  12. Colleen Barlow says:

    Outta this world!!! I am saving up to purchase your recipe book!!! I also can’t wait to visit you again, and take one of your master classes. You are the master “cake-ologist.” Thanks for sharing!

  13. Ariel says:

    Best cake we have ever made/eaten! Is it possible to use two 9” springform pans instead? If so — what would you recommend for baking time? Thank you!

    • donnavb@gmail.com says:

      Thank you!!! You can use two springform pans! I would start checking at 24 minutes…I’m a check early and check often kind of baker. Glad you like the recipe.

  14. Karen says:

    I have tried many white cake recipes but this is by far the best recipe. It is now my go to white cake recipe!! I loved the texture and taste. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!!

  15. Nicky says:

    Hallo Minette,
    Thank you for sharing your recipes and expertise .
    Just about to try your vanilla cake recipe. Do you use castor sugar or granulated sugar ? Does it not matter which ?
    Thank you .

  16. BS says:

    Have you ever used this recipe for cupcakes? Bake time?

    • Minette says:

      I haven’t used this recipe for cupcakes. If you do let me know what you think. As for time, I would start checking at 15 minutes just to be on the safe side.

  17. Maria says:

    Hi Minette! Thanks so much for all the wonderful information on your website! I’m not a new baker, but I am very new to the world of scratch cake baking and decorating. I made your absolutely delicious vanilla cake today! Question about texture… I read above about this being a dense cake (which I love!) but could you describe what the ideal texture/density is for this cake? I’m wondering if I got it just right, or if I worked the batter a bit too long (although I was careful). Also, since taste and texture can be such a subjective thing, could you describe what clients actually expect in terms of taste and texture? Thank you so much!

    • Minette says:

      Thanks!!! Maria, I would describe the texture of The Best Vanilla cake this way, it’s not as light as a box mix and not as dense as a pound cake. It’s somewhere in between.
      As for what clients expect, they want a moist, flavorful cake. Some like a denser cake and I recommend a pound cake. Most clients will pick the vanilla cake over the pound. I think today’s brides prefer a lighter texture cake. Hope this helps.

      • Maria says:

        Thanks for the speedy reply! I think I may have taste-tested this recipe too soon after taking it out of the refrigerator. Upon letting it sit out for about an hour or so, the texture softened and was absolutely perfect! Thanks so much for clarifying, and for the info about client preferences! Looking forward to trying your other recipes! Best… Maria

  18. Irish says:

    Hi! The egg whites should be fresh eggs? Or you used the one in the box? Thank you!

    • Minette says:

      Hi! The egg whites can be fresh. I use the whites in the carton because I always have them on hand but both will work.

  19. shafaq says:

    Hi , I would love to try this recipe as i have been looking for a good vanilla cake recipe.But i m missing on cake flour, what should i do

  20. REN says:

    This was an amazing cake!!! I baked 1/2 recipe and baked 1/2 of my usual WASC cake,used your Faux icing on both, and had a “taste testing”- thus cake won, hands down, no contest.

    Wondering how this would turn out if you whipped the egg whites and folded the in the batter?

    • Minette says:

      So glad you like it!!! Please let me know if you try whipping the egg whites. I would love to know. Thank you REN!!!

  21. Minette says:

    Thank you!! I usually bake the day before frosting so it will be good and cold when I assemble. If well wrapped, it should hold 2-3 days in the fridge just fine. Any more than that I would wrap well and freeze. Yes, I would keep wrapped in Saran and then place in air tight container. HTH.

  22. Kay says:

    Excellent cake! How long will this keep in the fridge before decorating, instead of freezing it?

  23. Sarah says:

    Hi there, can I use whole eggs instead of just the whites?

  24. LMJ says:

    I was so careful to make this cake exactly as per the instructions. The layers fell slightly in the center. Perhaps it needed the egg white to be whipped up a bit more? A photo of what the batter should look like when finished might be helpful. I got the perfect “wet sand” texture. Maybe my altitude had an impact.

    • Minette says:

      I’m at sea level so can’t advise regarding baking at high altitudes. Sometimes checking for doneness too soon can cause a dip in center.

  25. Sara Brassil says:

    Hello I am excited to try this cake but I am making a 10 inch 2 layer . How can I adjust the recipe? Thanks

  26. Sheila says:

    Heard lots of good of this recipe and I would want to try it. But is it possible the whole batch in one pan instead of several ones cause I don’t that many. In that case what temp do you recommend and time?

    • Minette says:

      If using one pan for a full batch, I would use a 10” round pan. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  27. Carla says:

    Hello! I was wondering if this cake is very dense or just dense enough but fluffy as well. Personally I prefer fluffy cakes and I want to know before trying this recipe! Thank you!❤️

  28. Donna Zell says:

    Hi Minette,
    I making your Best Vanilla Cake recipe into cupcakes for a senior prom party tomorrow night. I’m frosting them with strawberry buttercream. This flavor combination is the favorite of the girl who is having the party. I’ll let you know how this recipe works for cupcakes. Donna

  29. Donna Zell says:

    Update on my comment about making this cake recipe for cupcakes. The recipe is very easy to follow and I had no problems with it. It made 31 cupcakes and they took 15-16 minutes to bake. I pulled them when there were just a few fluffy crumbs left on the toothpick. They were absolutely delicious. The crumb is fine and soft and they were very moist yet quite fluffy . Just a lovely texture and taste. I frosted them with strawberry butter cream and everyone loved them. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Donna

  30. Donna Zell says:

    Forgot to leave 5 stars,

  31. Sheryl Fellows says:

    Hi Minnette, I can’t wait to try this. Would this make a good petit for base. Just wondering if you had ever used it for that?

    • Minette says:

      Hi Sheryl! I have made petit fours but not with this cake however it would be a great cake for petit fours! Let me if how you like it.

  32. Jasreen Kaur says:

    The best ever cake recipe and the easiest to make. I was unsure if I could work on this recipe with a hand blender but then my baking guru said it is doable and it worked.

    Love it

  33. Larissa Vaughn says:

    Truly- the BEST vanilla cake recipe! This will forever be my go-to. Thank you!

  34. Gabe says:

    I’m making my second batch of this cake in 24 hours. The first came out very sweet and didn’t rise much, which I put down to my flour being old. Between batches I noticed that the recipe calls for more sugar than flower, depending on which column you use for amounts. Can you please comment on that?

    • Minette says:

      Hi Gabe! Thank you for trying my Best Vanilla Cake recipe. As you know, baking is science and each ingredient must be in balance in order to produce a delicious cake. The amount of sugar in a cake recipe should be the same or a little more than the amount of flour…by WEIGHT, not volume. As you see by the ounces and grams columns, this rule of thumb holds true for the Best Vanilla Cake recipe.
      If you are getting little to no rise, check your baking powder to make sure it is fresh. Baking powder is what causes the rise in this recipe. Baking powder has a shelf life of 6-12 months and is sensitive to moisture and humidity.
      As far as the sweetness goes, I personally don’t find the cake to be overly sweet but taste is subjective. Please let me know if I can answer any other question. Thank you for your comment.

  35. Meg says:

    Can this be baked with a 9×13 metal pan? Temp and time? Thanks!

    • Minette says:

      Yes it can! Bake at 350°F and check at 25 minutes. Will probably take longer to bake but better safe than sorry.

  36. Rosemarie McGrath says:

    I absolutely love this recipe!! It really is the best vanilla cake ever! I made it will AP flour and it was still perfect. Thank you.

  37. Mary says:

    I am interested in making a coconut cake. Can I substitute coconut extract for vanilla?

    • Minette says:

      You sure can! I often use this cake for a coconut cake adding 1 1/2 tsp of coconut extract. It’s delicious!

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