Classic Vanilla Cake

Classic Vanilla Cake – tender and flavorful vanilla cake layers with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream.

Classic Vanilla Cake

Happy Monday, friends! Thanks for helping me decide which cake recipe to publish today! I’m excited to share with you my new Classic Vanilla Cake. I’d like to think this is the only vanilla cake recipe you’ll need in your life from here on out! It’s that good!

I’ve had requests for a this cake for a while now. I usually suggest using my Classic White Cake as a vanilla cake, but felt like I needed a true vanilla option for you too.

This cake is similar to my Classic White Cake, with a few minor changes in ingredients – but major changes to texture and flavor! This cake is so tender and flavorful.

What’s Different

For the cake layers, I’m only using egg whites to keep a whiter color in the cake layers. Since I’m only using whites, that means I don’t have any fat from the egg yolks – which is what helps create moisture in cakes. To supplement the batter with more fat, I’ve added sour cream (which you’ve likely seen in the Golden Oreo Cake and my Champagne Cake). It’s my new love.

Moist Cake

I’ll be writing an entire blog post about how to get a moist cake every time you bake, but for now, my best tip (other than making sure you don’t over bake your cake) is: sour cream! Adding a little sour cream to a cake recipe that tends to bake dry will do wonders to the texture. More on that later!

Vanilla Bean Paste

This recipe calls for vanilla bean paste in the cake layers and buttercream. The bean paste is what creates those gorgeous specks you see. There are so many brands of vanilla and vanilla bean paste. I say, use whatever you can find and is cost efficient. I know prices have gone up significantly and it’s likely they’re not going down any time soon either. You can find vanilla bean paste at Walmart, Michaels craft store, Amazon and even some grocery stores now too. If you’re having a hard time finding paste, use extract – same amount.

Vanilla Buttercream

The buttercream for this one is my basic vanilla buttercream with vanilla bean paste. It’s one of the tastiest and easiest buttercream recipes you’ll ever have.

Buttercream Tips

Remember these few tips when making buttercream:

  • Start with slightly cold butter
  • Beat the butter alone for a few minutes
  • Sift your powdered sugar
  • Use heavy whipping cream
  • Beat the buttercream for 3 to 5 minutes

For all my tips for making the best buttercream ever, head over to THIS post.


Room Temperature Ingredients Matter

Remember, for your cake batter, make sure all of your refrigerated ingredients are ROOM TEMPERATURE. Having room temperature ingredients for the cake batter ensures your cake will bake evenly AND that it has a light, fluffy texture and rises well.

For more explanation on why room temperature ingredients matter, check out THIS IGTV post.

Flavor Combinations

If you’re looking to add more flavors to this classic vanilla cake, I’d suggest these as great fresh fruit or compote fillings:

  • Strawberry
  • Blackberry
  • Raspberry
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Coconut

Happy baking!


Classic Vanilla Cake

5 from 33 votes
Tender and flavorful vanilla bean cake layers with vanilla buttercream.



  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. (13 g) vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. (10 g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp. (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream, room temperature


  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, slighly cold
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1/4 cup (57.75 g) heavy cream, cold
  • 1 tsp (4.2 g) vanilla bean paste
  • pinch of salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch.



  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line with parchment. Spray again. Set aside.
  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg whites on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between addition, continue beating on medium-high speed until the texture is smooth and the volume is nearly doubled, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla bean paste or extract and beat until incorporated.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Repeat the additions, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 cup buttermilk and the final 1/3 flour mixture. Only mix until the flour mixture is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for another 20 to 30 seconds on low. Fold in the sour cream.
  • Pour about 16-18 ounces of cake batter into each of the three 8-inch cake pans or 12-14 ounces in each of the 6-inch pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Let cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Tip: spray your wire cooling racks with nonstick spray).


  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy and pale in color.
  • With the mixer on slow, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the heavy cream, vanilla, and pinch of salt.
  • Once all of the ingredients are combined, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a couple minutes more.
  • Before using the buttercream, make sure to beat it by hand with a wooden spoon or large spatula to help push out the air pockets.


  • Place the first cake layer top side up, in the center of the cake board.
  • Spread about 1 cup of the the buttercream over the cake layer.
  • Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream and spread more buttercream across the layer.
  • Place the final cake layer top side down on the buttercream.
  • Apply a thin layer of buttercream around the entire cake. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes. This is your crumb coat.
  • Once the crumb coat is set, continue frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream.
Cuisine Cake
Course Dessert
Keyword Cake recipe, Vanilla CAke

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

Get my free cake decorating guide
Everything you need to know about decorating a cake like a pro!

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Leave a Comment


  1. 5 stars
    I made this cake for Eid it was so good but mine didn’t rise like yours and wasn’t airy , what should I do next time to make it airy and has better rising ? besides I used fresh ingredients also they were at room temperature 🙂

    1. Glad you loved the flavor! For the rise, make sure your beating the butter, sugar and eggs really well – to the point that the texture is silky smooth, and light and fluffy. That will help greatly.

  2. Courtney,
    I guess I’m tired. I just saw that I need to fold the sour cream in. Not sure if I should waste it and start over. I’m so goofy
    Thank you

  3. This cake is really good! I am struggling with the rise though. The first batch I made, I misread the recipe and only added 1 tsp of baking powder instead of 1 Tbs. So I made that into cake balls, and made another batch of batter. I let everything sit out a room temp, and I feel like I beat the butter/sugar/egg whites really well. What else am I missing? My baking powder is brand new too. The cake is fluffy and good, it just didn’t get as tall as I thought it should have.

    1. This cake, and most of my cakes, should come out to 1.25″ – 1.5″. Sounds like you’re doing a lot of things right. The other things to consider: are you using good quality pans like fat daddio pans? Is your internal oven temp accurate?

      1. I got new pans! Thank you for reply! My daughters used this recipe for their county fair cakes, and both got 1st place ribbons on them, so we are baking again this weekend for the state fair! They both have to decorate their cakes within certain guidelines. I will report back on the new pans, and how the girls do with their cakes. 🙂

  4. Hello! I was just curious if you had a recommendation on how to make this cake GF? I’m trying to decide between Bob’s Red Mill and Cup 4 Cup.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney ! I would love to try this recipe, but I do have few questions before .
    – Can I use liquid egg whites in a carton?
    – Can I use salted butter , and eliminate the salt in the recipe?
    – Can I substitute like 2 tablespoons of butter for a tablespoon of oil ? How would adding oil affects the cake ?
    Thank you so much !

    1. I wouldn’t use egg whites from a carton. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work as well. Yes you can use salted butter. And I wouldn’t sub the oil and butter.

  6. 5 stars
    Love this recipe and flavor! Best vanilla cake I’ve tried. My cake has been coming out very dense. Any suggestions on how to fix that or is that expected? I don’t mind a dense cake but I had some feedback from people who wanted it fluffier. I have been following the directions and my batter looks similar to yours (double the size, airy, etc) but it’s baking very dense. I have been making it as a double batch could that be an issue? I’ve made it three times and each time it has been consistently dense so I am making the same mistake each time.

    1. Yeah try making it as a single batch, but also be sure ingredients are totally room temperature and mix the butter and sugar really well to start. We want that mixture to be light and fluffy.

  7. I’m making is for the first time today but my husband requested mini cupcakes. Do you have the baking time conversion for different versions like regular cupcakes and mini cupcakes?

  8. Can this cake be made gluten free and if so what brand flour (Bob Red Mill or Cup4Cup) do you use since there is no gf cake flour.

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