Fluffy Homemade Vanilla Cake

Fluffy vanilla double layer cake on a white plate with a sprig of mint and a vanilla bean
The Spruce
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 2-layer cake
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
246 Calories
12g Fat
30g Carbs
5g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 246
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 102mg 34%
Sodium 389mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 5g
Calcium 152mg 12%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

It is easy to buy a box of cake mix, but let’s be honest—it's also sacrificing flavor and freshness for convenience. If you have never baked a cake from scratch, you may be surprised at how simple it is and that you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge.

This light, fluffy, and moist vanilla cake is delicious left just as is and shared with family and friends for dessert. It can also be turned into a beloved birthday cake or even a treasured wedding cake.

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Click Play to See This Fluffy Vanilla Cake Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened and divided into 2-tablespoon pieces; plus more for coating pans)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for coating pans)
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar (white granulated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 2 percent milk
  • 2 large eggs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Let all the ingredients come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Homemade Vanilla Cake recipe ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

    Flouring the pans
    The Spruce
  3. Combine sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until the dry ingredients are combined.

    Mixing the dry ingredients
    The Spruce 
  4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the butter one chunk at a time, and blend until the mixture forms a grainy consistency, between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula.

    Adding the butter
    The Spruce
  5. Add vanilla extract and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour in the milk. Stop and scrape, and mix for another minute.

    Adding the wet ingredients
    The Spruce
  6. Add the first egg, and mix on medium-low until incorporated; add the second egg and do the same. Mix until fluffy, about 30 seconds, then scrape down the bowl.

    Batter blended with eggs
    The Spruce
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and give each one a couple of solid taps on the countertop to release any air bubbles. Transfer pans to the oven.

    Batter in pans
    The Spruce 
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a crumb or two attached. (You can start testing at 30 minutes because it's better to check too soon than to overbake.) The tops will be golden brown, the edges will pull away from the sides of the pan, and the cakes will spring back when you touch them.

    Baked vanilla cakes
    The Spruce
  9. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges by running a knife along the sides of the pan; turn the cakes out onto the racks and cool for at least 1 hour before frosting.​

    Cooling the cakes
    The Spruce 
  10. Frost and enjoy.

    Fluffy homemade vanilla cake frosted
    The Spruce

Tips

  • For the best vanilla flavor, use pure vanilla extract. It costs more than the imitation extract but is especially important for vanilla-flavored baked goods.
  • To make it easy to remove the cooled cakes from the pans, line the bottoms with buttered parchment paper cut to fit the pan before adding the batter.

Why Didn't the Cake Rise?

If you notice that your cakes are not rising, it's likely that you're not using fresh baking powder. Baking powder loses its potency quickly, and your cake won't rise properly if it's too old. If it's been more than six months since you bought the baking powder in your pantry, replace it. And if you don't know how long it's been, replace it anyway. One easy way to never forget: Write the date you open it on the lid.

Why Isn't the Cake Fluffy and Moist?

There are a few reasons why this cake may come out drier than expected. First, it's important that you bring the butter, eggs, and milk to room temperature before beginning the recipe. If they are too cold, the batter won't form an emulsion, and your cake won't be light and fluffy. Then, make sure you don't overmix the batter; follow the recipe's instructions for mixing times. Finally, an overbaked cake will be dry, so check it early. If your oven tends to run hot, consider using an oven thermometer to better monitor all of your baked goods.

Which Frosting Is Best for This Vanilla Cake?

Buttercream frosting is a natural choice for vanilla cake. It's the most common type of frosting, and there are many delicious recipes to explore. At its most basic, buttercream frosting is made with butter, a fat such as shortening, confectioners' sugar, egg white, and vanilla extract. It works wonderfully for layered cakes and can be colored or flavored to fit any occasion.

What's the Best Way to Frost Layered Cakes?

Decorating your homemade cake is half the fun. Whether layered or not, always let the cake cool completely before frosting and be sure the icing is at room temperature. You will need about 5 cups of icing for a two-layer 9-inch round cake; 4 cups for a single-layer 9 x 13-inch cake. For layers, it's best to level the cakes before frosting so you're working with flat tops. Then, apply a "crumb" layer to seal the cake crumbs, let that chill and set, and finish it off with the remaining frosting. You can also add a few fresh strawberries, some fun candies, or practice your piping skills to give the cake a special look.

Recipe Variations

  • This vanilla cake recipe will make about 4 cups of cake batter, which means it will fill two 9-inch cake pans. It is also easy to double or triple the recipe if you happen to be making a tiered wedding cake. For a standard three-tier cake with a 10-inch bottom tier, 8-inch middle tier, and 6-inch top tier (two layers each), this recipe will make just the top tier. So you will need to double it to make the middle tier and triple it for the bottom tier.
  • Make this a lemon cake by substituting lemon extract and a teaspoon or so of lemon zest for the vanilla extract. If you do this, you could also add an extra egg yolk to boost the yellow color of the cake, but more than one might throw off the recipe.