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.

ADDITIONAL TIPS

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 31 votes
Tender and flavorful vanilla bean cake layers with vanilla buttercream.

Ingredients
 

FOR THE CAKE

  • 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

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

  • 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.

Instructions
 

FOR THE CAKE

  • 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).

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

  • 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.

ASSEMBLY

  • 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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Comments

  1. Hi! Quick question… I baked this cake tonight (my house smells INCREDIBLE) but it’s too late to crumb coat and frost. What is the best way to store your cake layers so you can come back to? Do I freeze them until I’m ready to frost? What if I wanted to bake up several so I have them on hand, how should I store?!

    1. To make sure it didn’t brown at all around the edges and I noticed that when I bake these lighter cakes at a lower temperature, they’re less likely to give you problems with dryness from overbaking

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! I got married 1 month ago and LOVED my wedding cake but only got one piece. This recipe is almost exactly like it!

    I used what I had, i.e. regular vanilla instead of vanilla bean paste, and it still turned out great.

    This will forever be my go to classic vanilla cake.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney!

    Can this recipe be reduced by half pretty straight forward or is there a ratio for the ingredients to be mindful of?

    Thanks!

  4. Hi Courtney: Im so excited to try this receipe out this week. I was curious if I would be able to sub greek yogurt for the sour cream?

    1. You can certainly make your own cake flour if you’re in a pinch and can’t find premade cake flour. Here’s what you do:

      1 cup all-purpose flour – 2 tablespoons
      +
      2 tablespoons corn starch
      =
      1 cup cake flour
      For one cup of AP flour, take out two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons cornstarch. Then sift the mixture at least six times. You need to get the mixture as fine as actual cake flour, so don’t skip this step.

  5. When all frosting is also completed how much will this cake weigh? Any idea about the completed cake weight?

    1. Well you are putting in two pounds of butter in the frosting plus two pounds of powdered sugar and the cake is probably a pound so maybe 5 pounds?

  6. 4 stars
    This cake had great flavour but for me it took a lot longer to bake and came out quite dense. Any suggestions?
    I added the egg whites slowly but all at once, would adding them one at a time work better?
    I made your green velvet cake and it was amazing in flavour and so soft.

  7. 5 stars
    So I have been using a recipe for vanilla cake that I found off Pinterest for the last three years. Don’t get me wrong its a good cake but yesterday I was craving something different. A vanilla cake that lighter and more sophisticated in flavor. I came across this cake… lets just say WOW. This is the best from scratch vanilla cake I have ever tasted. SO GOOD. Light, tender, and with subtle hint of vanilla… just go make it now! you wont regret it! (also always always always room temp ingredients 🙂

  8. How did your cake come out so white? Are you using the vanilla bean paste? Or the extract? I used the paste and my cake is definitely not white. It’s delicious, but definitely has a brown hue from the vanilla paste.

    1. You can if you mix it with greek yogurt. half milk half greek yogurt. Otherwise it needs to be buttermilk.

  9. This looks delicious. My daughter is asking for an almond cake. Could I substitute almond for the vanilla? Thank you!

  10. Just curious to why there is baking powder and no baking soda? Given the acidic ingredients. So many recipes and they’re all so different and it’s confusing 🤣

    1. Baking powder and baking soda can work similarly but need different amounts. I tend to use baking powder in my recipes.

  11. Hi,
    Why do you use 6 egg WITES in this recipe, and normal eggs in the marble cake (the vanilla one). What is the difference in using egg whites?
    Thanks!

  12. Just baked this exactly as you have it and ran into a few snags. The cake is a bit under done on top and the sides baked at an angle instead of straight. It also didn’t raise as much as I thought it would, and I made sure to use fresh and room temperature ingredients. Just wondering if you have any ideas for troubleshooting? Thanks!

    1. Bake it until a few moist crumbs come out. And then use a cake leveler to flatten the top! It’s ok if they aren’t huge layers!

    2. I’ve made this twice and also have had very white or “underdone” looking top, despite getting a few moist crumbs on my toothpick and the edges looking done. Is the white top normal? I’m used to cakes turning a little golden when done. Thank you!

  13. 5 stars
    This is the most delicious vanilla cake I have ever had!! I doubled the recipe for a thick 9.2 three layer cake. AMAZING!

  14. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh this recipe is heaven! Even when…you are super distracted… and accidentally add the frosting recipe amount of butter… into the cake batter. Still turned out amazing! Thanks for sharing your incredible talent and recipes!!

  15. 3 stars
    Hi! I have made this recipe 5 times now and I have only gotten it to taste good once. I altered the recipe slightly and it worked only once. I cut the sour cream down by 20 grams and added a splash more vanilla because i had made it twice and the sour cream taste was overpowering. Do you have any tips?

  16. I am at 7k ft. I’ve noticed you have some high altitude adjustments on some recipes. Do I need to make any adjustments to this one?

  17. I’m going to try to make this cake I’m a 9 by 13 and I know you have to turn down the temperature and cook for longer but do you have any suggest about what temp and how long? Is 300 to low?

  18. 4 stars
    I had a couple of problems that I’m hoping you can shed some light on. Admittedly, I over baked the cake a little so it was a bit dry. But, it was also incredibly dense – like a pound cake. Do you think this is because I overbaked it? Or was the density because of something else I might have done wrong? (Note: my ingredients were room temp) I will say the actual flavor of the cake was pretty delicious and probably the best vanilla flavor I’ve tried out of many different recipes. If I could just get the density fixed (and don’t overbake it again) this cake will be perfect! Any advice appreciated! 🙂

    1. The over baking could have something to do with it! It’s also a heavier cake than my others like chocolate. Remember to beat the sugar and butter for awhile at the beginning! That helps get it more light and fluffy.

  19. Courtney, I’ve made your cake – this vanilla Cake recipe in the past, I am looking at this current recipe and it now has sour cream, I want to make the same recipe without the sour cream, is it possible to get the recipe before you added the sour cream.
    Thank you!!

  20. 5 stars
    WOW!!! If I could give a hundred stars, I would!

    My husband requests vanilla cake with vanilla frosting all the time. I have tried every recipe out there with “meh” results…until this one!

    This cake was what my 1970s childhood memories of boxed cake was…what I mean by that is I have been searching for a vanilla cake recipe that had the same moistness and crumb of the boxed cake mixes from the 70s…before they tasted like baked chemical sponges. This is the highest of compliments in MY eyes bc of what I have been trying to recreate for years.

    I thought i had found the ultimate vanilla buttercream recipe until I made yours! Almost the same proportions but 100 times better!!!

    I used my cake discs and my cake is not only GORGEOUS but insanely delish!! I used vanilla bean paste to get those flecks! I am so so so very pleased with this recipe…thank you!

    I can’t wait to try more flavors!

  21. Hi! i’m currently searching the internet for the best vanilla cake base. i’m wondering if i can use whole eggs instead?

  22. 5 stars
    I have been searching for an amazing vanilla cake and after trying this recipe, I have finally found it! It was so tender, fluffy and moist. I used vanilla extract, but next time I will try vanilla bean to see if there is a noticeable difference. Thank you!

  23. I made this cake for a special occasion and followed the directions to a tea. When I asked them how the cake was they said it was dry. I was surprised at that response so wanted to ask if keeping the cake in the fridge overnight caused that. I wasn’t there so trying to figure out what might have caused it to be dry. I made the cake on a Friday night, stored it in my fridge covered and it was delivered Saturday (after a 3 hour ride) and they didn’t have it till Sunday evening. I don’t know if they covered it or not. Is there a point where best to have a cake stored at room temperature?

  24. Hi there. Im made this cake in 3, 8 inch pans but it seems really thin. like maybe it didn’t rise like it should have. Normal or should I double the recipe and put more batter in the pans to make thicker cakes?

      1. 4 stars
        Just made this cake. Flavor is superb. Mine was done before it browned at all. Cake was done in 26 minutes. Cake is moist but a little dense. Like others mentioned, my cake layers rose very little. Baking powder was fresh. I set a timer and mixed exactly the amount of time stipulated in the recipe. When folding in the sour cream, perhaps some of the air dissipated. Would it work to add the sour cream with the buttermilk so as to minimize handling of the batter? Also, I barely had 16 oz per layer. The only thing that I did not follow to a T was that I used cake strips to avoid brown edges. I usually use them when make white or light colored cakes and have not encountered any problems before. Thanks for all the work you put in to making our cakes tasty.

        1. You can definitely add the sour cream with the buttermilk. Make sure to beat the butter sugar and eggs really well. That’s going to increase rise.

  25. 5 stars
    I’ve made several of your cakes and LOVE all of them! I have made this cake before and it was fantastic! I am using this recipe to make cupcakes for a baby shower. How would you change the baking time and/or recipe if needed?

  26. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney!! I love this recipe and have used it several times since I found it and it has always been a crowd pleaser! I need to make a tiered cake and the bottom layer being a 10 in cake. Would I adjust the temperature at all for a 10 inch cake? Or just adjust the cook time? Thank you!

  27. 4 stars
    Hi Courtney, when I started adding the eggs, I found by the time I got to the 5th and 6th egg white the mixture has curdled. Am I adding the eggs too quickly? I had to add a bit of the flour to compensate for the curdling. It got worse when I added the sour cream. Should I wait longer between each addition to prevent curdling? Your recipe still tasted yummy though but wasn’t sure if the texture was affected by the curdling. Thank you!

    1. It will curdle a little bit but shouldn’t be a problem after you add the flour. Make sure you are taking your time adding the eggs one by one.

      1. 5 stars
        I absolutely love this recipe! It is my go-to for vanilla cake. With that being said, I may be doing this cake for a wedding later this year. I normally do 2-3 layer 8in rounds but for this one the bottom tier would be 10in. How much batter would I need for this? How would I calculate it?

      1. For a 9×13 cake do we use same recipe and just cut cake in half? Or do we bake two different cake pans with half of the recipe in each?

  28. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney! This has become my go to vanilla cake recipe! It’s so delicious and can be paired with all sorts of flavours for the filling and icing. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe 🙂

  29. Hi Courtney!

    Cant wait to try this recipe! I have a butter vanilla emulsion at home and wondering if I could substitute that in for this recipe or any recipe really.

    Thanks!

  30. 5 stars
    LITERALLY THE BEST VANILLA CAKE IN THE HISTORY OF EVER!!!! So delicious!! I made a 6” layer cake and cupcakes for a baby shower and everyone raved. Didn’t believe they weren’t from a speciality bakery😜

  31. Hi! I’m so excited to try this recipe! Im Making cupcakes and it has been requested that I do half of them chocolate. Would it turn out well if I were to half the batter and add cocoa powder? If so, how much would you add?

  32. I made this cake and the layers looked beautiful but when slicing them into thinner layers, I noticed that it is quite a dense can not light and fluffy. Is this correct?

  33. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe and it is so good!!! It was an absolute hit. The cake almost tasted like a sugar cookie. Thanks Courtney!

  34. 3 stars
    The flavor is wonderful, but maybe I did something wrong. I divided it between 3 8″ rounds, and when I took them out of the pan, the layers were so thin! Maybe 1 inch thick each? If I put all three together, the height wouldn’t exceed 4 inches. From the picture, I think this is way too short, right?

  35. 5 stars
    Made this yesterday in a 9×13 pan for my daughter’s birthday. It took me about 50 minutes to bake. It was delicious, light, fluffy, and a new family favorite. This was the first time I have used vanilla paste. Totally worth it, the smell was divine. I halved the butter cream and it was the perfect amount! Thanks for a great recipe.

  36. I’m wondering if you use the on the stove flour frosting?
    I haven’t made it yet but my sister says she loves it. I don’t have the same tastes as her. Is this kind of frosting good?
    I’m looking for the Kroger cake recipe n frosting.
    I will try yours soon.
    I use all organic. It’s hard to find organic sour cream n buttermilk where I’m at.

  37. 5 stars
    I love this blog and just got your cookbook and I’m loving it, thank you so much for your words of wisdom.
    I have made this vanilla cake and feel like it was too dry, what could I have done wrong? Perhaps, cooked it too long? Do you ever use a sugar syrup on your cake layers to keep them from drying out?

  38. 5 stars
    Too bad there is not a rating higher than 5 stars! I am a 14-year-old baker and I have been trying to find the perfect vanilla cake for a few months now. LET ME TELL YOU NOTHING IS BETTER THAN THIS CAKE!! Getting to level it and eat the cake is my favorite part I have to hide it from my sister! LOL
    The cake is so so so moist and so easy to make!! The only thing I had to be mindful of is baking it about 15 minutes longer because of my oven but this is not an issue at all! Thank you Courtney for this recipe! I will definitely be trying more of your recipes!!!

  39. 5 stars
    Made this cake to test it out before making for my sons wedding. Im wanting to add rasberries to the cake batter, would this recipe work for that? It is such a yummy vanilla cake and would love to stick to this recipe.

  40. 5 stars
    Hello, if I wanted to add whole eggs instead of just egg whites how many whole eggs would you recommend?

  41. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney,

    I tried your vanilla cake recipe today but made into cupcakes! OMG it was so so delicious!! Light, fluffy, moist and lovely taste of vanilla. My hubby thought it was really good so did my toddler! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. It is going to be my go to vanilla cake recipe 🙂

    For those who would like to make the cake into cupcakes; I halved the recipe which made 12 cupcakes. I filled 2/3 of the cupcake paper, baked at 150 degree celcius (with fan) for 20 minutes. The cupcakes baked nice and flat – perfect for icing!

  42. Hi Courtney!
    Love your recipes and will be trying this one out next! I was wondering if I could substitute the sour cream for full fat plain Greek yogurt? Thanks!

  43. 5 stars
    Thank you for this vanilla dream of a cake! We enjoyed it with a pool of raspberry coulis under each slice. Delicious! For our family of three, I halved the recipe and made two 6-inch rounds and followed it exactly as written (including room temp liquids and fresh baking powder 😉) and had layers that were 1.25 inches tall. Is that about the right height, or should they be taller?

  44. 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.

  45. 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

  46. 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. 🙂

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.