Simple Vanilla Cake

Simple Vanilla Cake Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
A slab of gloriously simple vanilla cake. Katie Workman /
  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: Serves 10 to 12
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
358 Calories
19g Fat
44g Carbs
4g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 358
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 11g 54%
Cholesterol 118mg 39%
Sodium 376mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 44g 16%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 4g
Calcium 123mg 9%
*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.)

This is great, simple, buttery vanilla cake comes from my first cookbook, The Mom 100 Cookbook.  Try it with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting for the most classic Norman Rockwell birthday cake of all. 

Let the kids measure the ingredients and work the mixer with supervision if they are old enough. They can cut out the ​parchment paper to line the pan. And of course when the cakes are cooled they can help frost, and then comes the best part of all: decorating. Put out a bunch of colorful candies: m n ‘ms, sprinkles, jelly beans, gum drops, Skittles, Necco wafers (if you can find them), gummy candies, licorice, write with melted chocolate, whatever you want and let them go at it and create a masterpiece.​

Make Ahead Tip: The cakes can be made two days ahead of time, and when completely cooled, wrapped well with plastic wrap and held at room temperature.

To satisfy both your chocolate and vanilla people, this Vanilla-Chocolate cake is perfect for any occasion. 


  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put one deep (2-inch) 9-inch cake pan on two stacked sheets of waxed or parchment paper and trace the bottom on the paper. Cut out the traced circles.  Butter 2 deep 9-inch round cake pans, then place one paper circle inside each of the two pans, butter the paper and add a bit of flour to each pan, knocking it around so it coats the bottom and sides, and turn them upside down to tap out the excess flour.  

  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add half of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix at low speed until just blended. Add the milk, blending just until it is almost incorporated, then add the remaining flour mixture, mixing at low speed just until everything is almost combined. Stop while you can still see streaks of flour, scrape down the sides, and give a few final stirs with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended.

  3. Divide the batter between the two pans, smoothing out the surfaces so they are level, or divide the batter evenly between all of the cupcake liners. Bake the cakes or the cupcakes in the middle of the oven until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted near the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

  4. Cool the cakes in their pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then invert onto racks, and cool completely.