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
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
265 Calories
9g Fat
42g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 265
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 53mg 18%
Sodium 233mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 42g 15%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 23g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 103mg 8%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 70mg 1%
*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—you're 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 recipe uses the reverse creaming method (or paste method), which has you mix the sugar and dry ingredients with the butter until sandy and then adds the other wet ingredients one at a time. This method helps yield cakes that have an even crumb and are evenly shaped and hold together well for stacking and decorating.

This fluffy and moist vanilla cake is sturdy enough to layer with frosting while still being light and tender. Frost and decorate with your favorite frosting for a birthday, celebration, or even wedding. Or keep it simple with berries and whipped cream for a quick dessert.

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"This is a very good everyday cake leavened with baking powder. It's relatively light—it isn't loaded with butter, and it calls for only 2 eggs and 2 percent milk. Mine was perfectly baked after 30 minutes. After 10 minutes on the cooling rack, the cake released from the pans easily." —Diana Rattray

Fluffy Homemade Vanilla Cake Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 2-tablespoon pieces and softened; plus more for coating pans

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating pans

  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup 2 percent milk, room temperature

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Homemade Vanilla Cake recipe ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. If desired, line the bottom with a circle of parchment.

    Flouring the pans
    The Spruce
  3. Combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt 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 looks sandy, between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula.

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

    Adding the wet ingredients
    The Spruce
  6. Add the first egg and mix on medium-low until completely incorporated. Add the second egg and do the same. Scrape down the bowl and mix until fluffy on medium speed, about 30 seconds.

    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 the pans to the preheated oven.

    Batter in pans
    The Spruce 
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a crumb or two attached. 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 in their pans 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 with your choice of frosting and enjoy.

    Fluffy homemade vanilla cake frosted
    The Spruce

How to Store and Freeze

  • The baked cakes can be stored, tightly wrapped, for up to four days, although they will begin to lose some moisture over time. Tightly cover a frosted cake and store it for up to three days.
  • Unfrosted cakes can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to a month. Defrost before decorating.

Tips

  • For the best vanilla flavor, use pure vanilla extract.
  • This recipe uses all-purpose flour for ease. If you have cake flour you can use it for a lighter cake.
  • For extra easy removal, grease the pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment.

How to Serve Homemade Vanilla Cake

  • Decorating your homemade cake is half the fun. Whether layered or not, always let the cake cool completely before frosting and be sure the frosting is at room temperature. You will need about five cups of icing for a two-layer 9-inch round cake.
  • For layers, it's best to level the cakes (if needed) 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.
  • 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. Buttercream frosting works wonderfully for layered cakes and can be colored or flavored to fit any occasion.
  • Try a chocolate sour cream frosting or a cocoa frosting for a vanilla and chocolate combo.

Recipe Variations

  • This vanilla cake recipe will make about four 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 are 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. You will need to double it to make the middle tier and triple it for the bottom tier.
  • This cake can be made in a 9x13 pan (bake for 35-40 minutes) or as 24 cupcakes (bake for 20-25 minutes).
  • Make this a lemon cake by substituting a teaspoon of lemon extract and a teaspoon of lemon zest for the vanilla extract.

What Is the Difference Between White Cake and Vanilla Cake?

White cake is a fluffy and light cake that is typically made using egg whites to keep it perfectly white. Vanilla cake often contains whole eggs, making it off-white, and plenty of vanilla for flavor.

Why Isn't the Cake Fluffy and Moist?

There are a few reasons why this cake may come out drier and more cornbread-like 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.