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If you are looking for a go-to vanilla cake recipe that is always soft and moist, this is for you! I have made this recipe 7 times in the last few months and it comes out perfect every time. I will admit after the fourth batch I may have been obsessing a bit, but I had to be sure for quality control….. aka sampling:)
I tried so hard to get a good picture……..5 cakes, a few dozen cupcakes, and 4 photo sessions later, here it is. The flowers are homemade marshmallow fondant, a recipe I recently updated. It’s basically moldable marshmallow that tastes just like marshmallow…because it is. You should try it, updated marshmallow recipe coming soon.
I wanted a good go-to vanilla cake recipe that always came out great, always. This is that cake. First, I had to figure out what makes a vanilla cake, well… vanilla cake. I have been making a vanilla cake for years and to be honest, they don’t always come out the same.
There are also so many variations out there that can be classified as vanilla cake. White cake, yellow cake, vanilla with almond, or just plain vanilla. If you are trying to make a white cake, you would use egg whites, whereas a yellow cake uses whole eggs and sometimes even extra yolks. Some vanilla cakes are flavored with additional orange and lemon flavors. It can be overwhelming to decide which is the best.
So, what makes a good vanilla cake recipe??
Everyone has their own opinion and preferences. To me, a vanilla cake should be light, fluffy, and have a slightly rich vanilla flavor. With all my attempts, I actually came up with two recipes. This vanilla cake recipe and a white fluffy cloud cake, which will be coming soon. Yes, I keep saying coming soon…I have a lot to do.
With this recipe, I also used a different method of blending. I used a reverse mixing method that blends the flour, sugar, and all dry ingredients together first, then add butter, then the wet ingredients.
This method was hard for me at first. I’m used to the creaming method for cakes where you mix sugar and butter, then alternate dry and wet ingredients. It was really hard to place the butter with the flour for the first time. I’m glad I gave it a try because it really makes a difference to the texture. I also tried folding whipped egg whites at the end. The result is an amazingly soft cake.
I made this recipe into cupcakes and tested it on people without frosting. Everyone absolutely loved it. When a few friends that I hadn’t asked for feedback texted me soon after they ate them to say how good they were, I felt like I was on to something. Even after the 7th batch of vanilla cake, my kids were still not tired of it.
It can be hard to get an honest opinion. Most people wouldn’t want to tell you if something you made tasted bad. When you cook for friends or bring something to a gathering, it’s polite to thank the person who made it as a way to show your appreciation. If someone took the time to make something for you, isn’t it polite to at least give a compliment?? Compliments are always nice but constructive criticism helps get it perfect. So, how do you know when you have it perfect??
The true test of a recipe
To me, the true test of a recipe isn’t if people say they like it. It’s when they eat all of it and look for more, maybe even fight over the last piece. A couple of years ago I tried selling make-up through direct sales. For one of my first potluck sales meetings, I brought an apple pie. I was new and nervous to meet everyone.
By the end of the night, I was the one who brought the pie and these people I had just met were fighting over the last slice. The hostess won and saved a piece for her husband. I hadn’t sold any makeup at all but walked away happy that they loved my pie! I’m clearly not a good salesperson and I’m okay with that. I do feel that I got the same kind of positive reaction with this recipe.
This recipe makes a great tasting and soft textured cake. It’s so light and fluffy it was hard not to keep eating it. As you can see from the photo, this batter makes enough for three thin 9″ layers or two thick 9″ layers. It can also make a 9 x 12 rectangular cake.
My tips for better results with making this vanilla cake recipe.
1. Room temperature ingredients. Take out butter and eggs ahead of time to bring them to room temperature before mixing. The eggs are easy to crack and separate when cold, once you separate the yolks let them sit out for a few minutes.
2. Use REAL unsalted butter, no substitutions.
3. For a soft and light cake use cake flour instead of all-purpose if you can.
4. When adding 1/3 of the wet ingredients to the flour and butter mixture, blend on medium for at least 2 minutes. The batter will lighten and expand.
5. Fold in the whipped egg whites last, folding until blended, DO NOT OVERMIX.
Although this recipe makes a light and fluffy cake, it held up pretty well to all the fondant I placed on it. In some of the photos, you will notice a whipped cream frosting for a lighter not too sweet texture. In the others, I used usually do a simple cream cheese buttercream with added lemon and it pairs well with either. I like to add a bit of lemon to buttercream frosting with a vanilla cake, just a little can help cut the sweetness and gives a good balance of flavor.Print
A light and fluffy vanilla cake recipe.
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 eggs divided
First, set eggs, milk, cream, and butter out for a few minutes to warm up to room temperature. When you first take out the eggs crack and separate them. (they are easiest to separate when cold) Place yolks in a large measuring cup or bowl with milk, cream, vanilla, and almond. Give the milk mixture a good whisk.
While waiting, spray cake pans with cooking spray then cut out parchment paper to line the bottom center of 9″ cake pans. (either two thick or three thin layers)
In mixing bowl add egg whites with whisk attatchment and whisk on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside in medium bowl.
Clean out mixing bowl.
Place dry ingredients in the cleaned mixing bowl and replace whisk with paddle attatment and blend for a few seconds. Slice up butter and add cubes to dry mixture. Blend till mixture appears sandlike.
Add 1/3 of milk mixture to the mixer with the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Then add remaining milk mixture in two more additions mixing for a minute in between additions.
Once blended well, fold in egg whites gently until mixed incorporated.
Pour into prepared baking pans and bake at 325 for 30-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
This recipe will make two thick 9″ cakes or three thin 9″ layers. You can cook each pan separate which will be 30-35 minutes. If cooking two or three at a time you may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time. Individual ovens vary.
You can also make this recipe into cupcakes. Simply add batter to lined cupcake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top and when toothpick stuck into center comes out clean. This will make about 3 dozen large or 4 dozen small cupcakes.
Did I mention how many photoshoots I did?!? Here are some of my efforts (why waste the pics?)
Yes, I made three different batches of marshmallow fondant….As you can see I almost gave up and tried lemons 🙂
This recipe is very versatile if you want to add other flavors with the vanilla go for it! What do you think? What do you consider vanilla cake?? Share in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!