Perfect Vanilla Cake

The Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe

This Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe is very easy, with just a few important tricks to make it buttery, and soft and moist!

I have partnered on with Challenge Dairy on this recipe. I have used Challenge Butter for years and I love their products. All opinions are my own.

Can you even believe that in all the year (almost 10!) that I have been blogging, I have never posted a recipe for my favorite vanilla cake! I have shared my favorite vanilla cupcakes, which is very similar, but I have made a few adjustments to make the recipe perfect in cake form.

MY OTHER RECIPES

The Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe

And what’s fantastic about this recipe, is that it’s absolutely easy…there are just a few things that I insist you do to make it perfect!

AND I’ve made this cute little video to show you just how simple it is.

So we’re going back to basics today, and like I said, I have a few steps that will ensure the best result.

Tip #1

The trick to this cake is making sure you use Cake Flour. It always produces a more tender crumb. Certainly you CAN use all purpose flour, and I used to think it wouldn’t matter too much, but it does. Oh friends, it does. I even went as far (like with the cupcake recipe) where you use a combo of all purpose and cake flour, which I think is totally fine for cupcakes. But for a cake, I truly feel that 100% cake flour is the way to go. Cake flour has less protein content, and forms less gluten when you mix it.

The Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe

Tip #2

Another non-negotiable is buttermilk. The acid in the buttermilk combined with the baking powder produces the most tender crumb by breaking down the long strands of gluten. If you catch yourself in a pinch and don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, here’s a simple trick…

Buttermilk Substitution

I do recommend first to sub in milk with lemon juice or vinegar for the buttermilk…and if you don’t have either of those, you can sub in plain yogurt as a last resort.

Tip #3

I am not a huge stickler for sifting the dry ingredients together. What I do, is add the baking powder and salt in with the eggs and vanilla. I find this gives them plenty of time to get evenly mixed into the batter. I love baking, but I really try and cut down on steps that I feel are unnecessary. It also saves me from washing another bowl. Some might argue this, I have never had an issue!

Tip #4

Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl! I have a “scraper blade” on my KitchenAid mixer, but I do not rely on this 100% to mix my batter. It’s so easy to stop your mixer and use a rubber spatula to ensure everything is getting mixed in properly. Scrape the sides, and the bottom of the mixing bowl to get any butter or flour that hasn’t gotten incorporated. If you don’t do this, you will have clumps of butter in your batter and it won’t bake evenly. It’s such an easy thing to do, to make sure your results are perfect.

Tip #5

DON’T OVER MIX THE BATTER! Once you add the flour and buttermilk in alternating portions you want your batter to be smooth and creamy, but you don’t want to overdo it. This will make your cake tough, and not as tender. The more you mix, the more gluten forms, which you don’t want for a light, fluffy cake. You want to want everything to be combined, but that’s it! It will take less than 30 seconds after the last portion of flour is added. And again, SCRAPE THE SIDES OF THE BOWL!

Tip #6

Don’t skip using parchment rounds in the bottom of the pan. I know this might be another step you might want to skip. DON’T DO IT. Use baking spray, coat the pan, cut circles of parchment paper out that fits in the bottom of the pans. Place the parchment in the sprayed pan, and spray it again! There is  NOTHING worse than going to all the trouble of baking a cake and having it stick. You might swear that you greased or coated the pan enough…but please, just add the parchment paper for insurance. This cake has a high sugar content and will easily stick to the pan if not properly prepared.

The Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe

Tip #7

Use the best ingredients. This is something I feel very strongly about when baking “basics”. Ingredients can make the difference between good and AMAZING. That’s why I use Challenge Butter in all my recipes really, but this one specifically. The butter flavor in this cake really shines, and Challenge Butter is so fresh, you can taste the difference. They are the only dairy company that controls the whole process from milking the cows, to transporting milk, to packaging the product. And they use milk that has not been treated with the growth hormone rbST, which is very important to my family and me.

*I use salted butter in this recipe, (as I do in most of my recipes) which is completely personal preference. If you have a salt sensitivity, feel free to use unsalted.

Quality ingredients also include using real vanilla, not imitation. Again, there aren’t a lot of flavors in this cake, so the butter and vanilla are the shining stars!

Tip #8

When the cakes are baked, and cooled, you might need to trim it a little bit to get flat tops, so it will be perfect for layering. To do this, just use a serrated knife, and carefully trip off any dome at the top, so the cakes will stack evenly. Sometimes I trim the sides a little bit if something isn’t perfect. Just know, the more you trim, the more crumbs you will get in your frosting, which is why a crumb coat is very important to get a perfect finish! Which leads me to the next tip…

The Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe

Tip #9

This cake is the perfect vehicle for frosting. Whether it be Creamy Chocolate Frosting, Perfect Party Frosting, or any of the long list of favorites I have, you can really mix and match. Even the decorating of this cake is a place for you to get creative. You can do a “naked style”, where you add a layer of frosting in the middle and lightly coat the sides, or go all the way. You can even slice each layer in half and create a fabulous 4 layer cake! If you choose to do this, increase the frosting amount by at least 50% so you have enough!

In these pictures and in the video I used my Perfect Buttercream Frosting. I love it so much!

 

I hope these tips have helped! Vanilla cake seems so simple, but can often give varied results. So, I hope these tips and recipe will be your go-to recipe from now on!

 

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The Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe

Perfect Vanilla Cake

  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: serves 10

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature (I used Challenge Butter)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2, 8 or 9- inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Cut two pieces of parchment paper into 9- inch circles. Place the rounds in the bottoms of the pans. Coat again with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment mix the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes. Add in the oil, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt, and continue mixing for an additional minute until smooth and combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
  3. Turn the mixer to low speed and in alternating portions add in the buttermilk and flour, beginning and ending with flour. Mix for 30 seconds, until combined and smooth, again, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Pour half of the cake batter into each prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the center of the cakes are set, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then remove the cakes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes

Frost the cake with your desired frosting. I used my Perfect Buttercream Frosting in the pictures and video for this recipe.

If you’re making ahead, wrap the cakes tightly in cling wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days. Alternately you can wrap the cakes in cling wrap, then place them each in a large zip-top bag and freeze for up to a month.

 


*This post is in partnership with Challenge Dairy. All opinions expressed are my own.

31 Responses

    1. Shelly

      You absolutely can…the vegetable oil adds to the fluffier texture of the cake. I love the taste that the butter gives, which is why I use a combo. All butter will produce a slightly heavier cake, but it will taste great!

    1. Shelly

      Not sure what happened to that in the recipe, but I fixed it and it’s there now! It’s 1/4 cup vegetable oil added when you add the eggs and vanilla!

  1. Carol

    I’m sorry if I’m not seeing it, but which frosting did you use in the photos? Is it the Perfect Party Frosting? Yellow (vanilla) cake is my all-time favorite, so I’ve tried to find my “perfect one” and, though I’ve found one I’ve come back to for years, this may outdo it — I can’t wait to try it! I like a pastry cream filling but would love to try the frosting you show here along with it, too. Thanks!

  2. Ebony

    In the video you add vegetable oil to the batter but I don’t see it listed in the ingredients. How much oil do you add?
    Thank you ?

  3. Stephie Scat

    There are two versions to this recipe for Perfect Vanilla Cake. I just made this cake, and I just put the cake in the oven… I had remembered seeing “oil” as an ingredient and when double checking, one of the versions, there is no oil on the ingredient list I was following, nor in the instructions. Then I switched over to check another window (also Cookie & Cups), and there is was, 1/4 cup oil. If I had not watched the video, last night I would have not remembered I had seen the oil listed. I just checked, and they are both the Cookies and Cups site, so I am not sure why both recipes don’t match exactly. The only difference is the addition of the oil Can you please clarify and correct? Thank you.

    1. Shelly

      Hi, yes, there was an omission in the recipe that was posted yesterday, but luckily someone brought it to my attention and it’s all fixed! The recipe includes 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and the recipe should reflect that now!

  4. Stephie Scat

    I made this cake today. It came out excellent. I have made many vanilla/yellow cakes and this one is one of the best. I also used Challenge Butter. The cake texture is perfect, and it has a great vaniilla flavor. Thanks for great recipe!

  5. Dawn

    Cannot wait to make this! I have been looking for an amazing yellow cake recipe. If I do not use salted butter, how much salt should I add to the batter?

    1. Shelly

      It’s really a personal preference. I just prefer a tiny bit more salt, so if I were to use unsalted butter I would use 1 1/2 teaspoons, but if you are at all sensitive to salt, just use the 1 teaspoon!

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