|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
We all know how easy it is to buy a box of cake mix, but let’s be honest—we are 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 and moist vanilla cake is delicious left just as is and shared with family and friends for dessert. But this recipe can also be turned into a beloved birthday cake or even a treasured wedding cake.
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- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for coating pans)
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened and divided into 2-tablespoon pieces, plus more for coating pans)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup 2 percent milk
- 2 large eggs
Gather the ingredients
Let all your ingredients come to room temperature.
Heat your oven to 350 F.
Butter and flour two (9-inch) cake pans.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until the dry ingredients are combined.
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.
Add vanilla, and with the mixer on low, slowly pour in the milk. Stop and scrape, and mix for another minute.
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.
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.
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 over bake.) 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.
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.
Frost and enjoy!
It is 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. To make it easy to remove the cooled cakes from the pans, you can line the bottoms with a circle of buttered parchment paper cut to fit the pan before adding the batter.
If you notice that your cakes are not rising as they should, it could be your baking powder. An important tip for anyone baking a cake: Use fresh baking powder! If it's been more than 6 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. Baking powder loses its potency quickly, and your cake won't rise properly if it's too old.
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 3-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.
Note that if you wanted to, you could 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.