Look no further if you want to bake a basic vanilla cake from scratch that is moist, fluffy, and easy to make. I have been making it for years and is good to eat plain or to fill and frost. A simple recipe that freezes very well.
As part of a new series of basic recipes, I present you with a cake that we all need to master: the vanilla butter cake.
As with most recipes in this blog, I have been making it for years with great results. I tweaked a few details and tested it some more in order to post it here as the perfect vanilla cake. Big claim I know. But well, I think it is and hope you will too.
- Vanilla: the most important ingredient in this recipe, I recommend buying extract of paste, which are natural, as opposed to the essence which is artificial. I personally like paste because it has a more concentrated flavor and those tiny vanilla seeds that speck the batter and make me smile.
- Butter: this is one of the star ingredients so buy the best quality you can afford.
- Sugar: regular white sugar is the best, but you can use light brown sugar and the cake will be a little bit denser.
- Milk: use whole whenever possible. Buttermilk also works if that's all you have.
- Flour: I use cake flour but all-purpose works just fine. Or maybe a mix of both if you want to experiment.
Easy steps for a fluffy cake
If you follow the instructions in the recipe, you will have a fluffy and wonderful cake.
- Ingredients: make sure you have them at room t° as directed in the recipe. This is important.
- Instructions: follow instructions to ensure the best results. Don't overbeat the batter after adding dry ingredients.
- Vanilla: I like to use 2 or 3 teaspoons, depending on the type of extract I'm using. Since this is a vanilla cake, make sure the flavor shines.
- Baking: have the oven preheated for better results and test for doneness with a cake tester or a brochette stick. It should come out clean. But don't over bake it.
- Storing: it's important to let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. After that, wrap and keep refrigerated for a few days or freeze for up to a month.
Frequently asked questions
What is a vanilla cake?
Any cake that has vanilla as the main flavor can be called a vanilla cake. It's usually made with butter and eggs and the batter has no other flavoring.
Are butter cakes different from yellow or white cakes?
Any cake made with butter (instead of oil for example) can be called a butter cake. So yellow or white cakes can also be butter cakes if made with that ingredient.
What makes a cake moist?
A moist cake has wet ingredients with a certain percentage of fat in them. When you use whole milk instead of water, use sour cream, add an extra yolk to the batter, use oil (in addition to butter or as a substitute) you are adding moisture. The ratio of these ingredients to the dry ingredients determines if a recipe will be drier or moister.
What makes a cake light and fluffy?
When it comes to butter cakes, following a good recipe, such as this one, will result in a fluffy cake. Take the time to cream the butter and sugar well, sift the flour and don't overbeat after adding it, use the right sized pan, preheat the oven. All the details make for a great result.
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- 2 cups (280g) all-purpose or cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (175g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (180g) whole milk, at room temperature
- Turn the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Butter and flour (or use baking spray) a 9-inch (24cm) round cake pan with a removable bottom, and put it in the fridge while making the batter.
- In a large bowl beat soft butter for 20-30 seconds, until creamy.
- Always beating, add the sugar gradually and beat for 3-4 more minutes, until light and creamy. This is important for a fluffy cake.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well each time. Add the vanilla and mix everything well.
- Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) and add them to the previous mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk in 2 parts. This means you start and end with flour.
- Mix everything very well (I use a spatula) and if you use the electric beaters do so at low speed; you do not want to beat much at this point as that will toughen the cake after it’s baked.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cold pan (which was in the fridge) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out dry.
- Let cool on a metal rack until lukewarm enough to remove.
- Let cool completely.
- It keeps for a few days in the fridge and can be frozen for 1 month, well wrapped in both cases.
- If you want to fill it I recommend doing it the next day. Also, a cold cake that has been in the refrigerator is easier to fill and frost.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Ingredients: make sure you have them at room temperature as directed in the recipe. This is important.
Instructions: follow instructions to ensure the best results. Don't overbeat the batter after adding dry ingredients.
Vanilla: I like to use 2 or 3 teaspoons, depending on the type of extract I'm using. Since this is a vanilla cake, make sure the flavor shines. I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works.
Baking: have the oven preheated for better results and test for doneness with a cake tester or a brochette stick. It should come out clean. But don't overbake it.
Storing: it's important to let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. After that, wrap and keep refrigerated for a few days or freeze for up to a month.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 40
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
Keywords: vanilla cake