Classic Vanilla Cake

February 24, 2020

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

4.92 from 97 votes
Tender and flavorful vanilla bean cake layers with vanilla buttercream.
Servings 20 people



  • 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 ½ 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 ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by ½ cup of the buttermilk. Repeat the additions, ⅓ flour mixture, ½ cup buttermilk and the final ⅓ 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.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Cake recipe, Vanilla CAke

Join the Conversation

  1. This cake was so delicious, and such a huge hit! Thank you. It’ll definitely be my go to recipe.

  2. If I use all purpose gluten free flour what would be the difference?

    1. If you use the cup 4 cup brand it would be the same.

  3. Looks delicious, I’m trying it today just wanted to ask if it’s ok to use half butter and half oil instead of only butter?

    1. You can, but the texture will be a little different. You might notice it’s a little oily.

  4. Shelby Blackner says:

    5 stars
    Looking for help – I’ll make my cakes the day before I need them and I’ll wrap them in Saran Wrap after they have cooled and put them in the fridge. The next morning I will assemble it and put it back in the fridge till I need it. Take it out 30 minutes before the party but when we cut into it, it’s dry. The flavor is there and it looks nice and fluffy. Just dry. What can I do?? 10/10 recommend your cakes always and I always make them!

    1. Don’t put them in the fridge. Only freezer. The fridge dries them out.

      1. Shelby Blackner says:

        Thank you!!

  5. Hi Courtney! I’m interested in making this recipe into cupcakes for my daughters birthday…how might I tweak the bake time? Thank you!

    1. About 18-20 mins. Keep an eye on it.

  6. Hi! Can this be made in a 9×13 pan? Thank you

  7. Can I use strawberry instead of Vanilla bean paste for the buttercream? Or would that mess up the buttercreme?

    1. It will change it.

  8. Kelly Jennings says:

    I absolutely love every one of your cakes that I have made. I just had a request for a 10” round vanilla cake for a bridle shower and this is definitely the recipe that I want to make. Any hints on adjusting this recipe for 3 10” rounds? I’m going to be ordering some items from your shop for sure since I need to step up my cake decorating game! Thank you.

    1. You want to double the recipe.

  9. Hi, how would you recommend to reduce the recipe for a 3 layer 6inch cake?

  10. Limor Pickholz says:

    Hi, can I use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? I saw you said use half milk half Greek yogurt if you don’t have sour cream, but would I still add buttermilk as well if doing this?

    1. Yes you can!

  11. hi! I have a slightly odd question maybe but if someone were to add 3 whole eggs and 3 whites, would other ingredients need to be adjusted?

    1. If you want to use whole eggs, I’d cut back on the egg whites by one or two, but keep the rest the same.

      1. Sonia Lapointe says:

        Hi Courtney, in the same line of thinking, I’m thinking 2 whole eggs and 3 egg whites. Does that sound about right ? Can you tell me a bit more on how including yolks will affect the cake ? Thank you.

        1. Yolks have fat which helps to create and retain moisture, so they’re never a bad thing to incorporate. The eggs as a whole help to create a light and fluffy texture when mixed well with the butter and sugar. I think it sounds good

  12. Agostina says:

    5 stars
    I’m about to become a professional pastry chef, but the recipe they taught us didn’t convince me 100%, so I’m always looking for a cake that’s how I want it. My search is over. This is incredible! Now I don’t want to sell this cake, I want to keep it! I appropriated your chocolate cake recipe, and I knew this one would be up to par. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FROM ARGENTINA!

    1. This makes me so happy!

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