Vanilla Cake

I’m partnering with Nielsen-Massey to bring you today’s recipe. All opinions are my own. Thank you for helping me work with companies I love!

The search is over for the perfect vanilla cake—this is it! The cake batter is really light, airy creating a delicate cake with a buttery vanilla flavor. Top it or fill it with just about anything!

For more can’t-miss cakes, try Chocolate Blackout Cake, Classic Chocolate Cake, or Old Fashioned Sour Cream Pound Cake

Vanilla Cake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles

Light and Fluffy Vanilla Cake

I’ve been searching for the perfect vanilla cake for a long time, and I’ve finally found it! It took me several years (and three tests of the same recipe) to get it right. I had to tweak things along the way to get it delicate, moist and flavorful. What ended up making this the winning cake? Cake flour, egg whites and a whole lot of vanilla bean paste.

Is vanilla cake and white cake the same? Cakes that use just egg whites are considered white cakes, and cakes that use whole eggs are considered yellow cakes because the yolks tint the batter.

Vanilla cakes fall in the middle, especially when you use vanilla bean paste, because any addition of color muddles the categorization. This cake only uses egg whites, so it starts off a white cake, but the inclusion of the vanilla bean paste makes it uniquely a vanilla cake.

A slice of homemade vanilla cake on a white plate

Ingredients for the Perfect Vanilla Cake

Vanilla Paste: Vanilla paste is made from a mixture of the vanilla bean powder and vanilla extract, so it has a more realistic vanilla flavor. It also has those decadent-looking black specks that make your cake look that much more amazing!

About 4 years ago when I worked at Sur La Table I learned what a huge difference this ingredient can make in a recipe. We always had Nielsen-Massey extracts/pastes on hand and I haven’t been able to use any other kind since. They are amazing, I really mean it!

(And yes, there are 5 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste. You read it right, I promise!) If all you have on hand is vanilla extract, no worries. Just make a simple 1:1 substitution.

Sour Cream: It’s Important to use full fat sour cream to ensure your cake has the perfect texture and consistency.

Egg Whites: Yes friends, there are 6 egg whites in this recipe. You can save those yolks for homemade ice cream!

Vanilla bean paste for vanilla cake recipe

How to Make Vanilla Cake

PREP. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Spray the parchment and sides with baking spray, set aside. SEE NOTES

CREAM. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean paste until pale, about 3 minutes.

COMBINE. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the dry ingredients along with the sour cream and milk. Add ⅓ of each at a time. Do not over-mix.

BEAT. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff.

FOLD. Carefully fold into the batter, taking care not to deflate them. Make sure that they are incorporated evenly.

DIVIDE. Divide batter between the two pans. Use a kitchen scale if necessary to ensure they are equal.

BAKE & COOL. Place in the oven and bake for 24-28 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Leveling: Levelling a cake isn’t that difficult at all, but makes all the difference in creating a layered cake. This can be done with a long serrated knife. Place your hand on the top of the cake and place your knife at the edge of the cake before it domes. Gently wiggle your knife through the cake to remove the domed part and make a level top to the cake.

Close up of vanilla cake frosting

The Frosting

While the cake cools you’ll want to prepare the frosting. It’s pretty straightforward and includes yet another healthy dose of vanilla bean paste.

CREAM. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla bean paste and salt, mix to combine. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the powdered sugar. Once added, pour in ¼ cup of heavy cream and beat on high for 1 minute.

TIP: If the frosting is too thick add an extra tablespoon or two of cream and continue beating for 30 seconds.

LAYER:

  1. Once the layers are completely cool, place one onto a plate or cake stand bottom side up. This not only helps create a nice even layer, but it also prevents crumbs from getting into your frosting.
  2. Cut a paper candy/cake pot making stick (or skewer) into three pieces the same height as your layer.
  3. Add three into the cake in a triangular shape, about 4 inches apart. Again, this is a very delicate cake, so a little support will help the bottom layer stay nice and fluffy. The weight of the frosting and top layer will compress the bottom layer if you’re not careful!

DECORATE. Finally, the fun part! Decorate this beauty with your favorite sprinkles or fresh fruit. If you choose to tint your frosting with food coloring you can do so many fun things! I went pretty plain, but added some sparkle with shiny non-pareils and tiny gold stars. No matter how you decorate it, I promise it will taste AMAZING! Enjoy!!

This vanilla frosting really is the most delicious compliment to the cake, but you can use whatever frosting flavor you prefer! Try our other frosting recipes:

Vanilla cake from scratch

Storing & Freezing Vanilla Cake

Storing: You can store the cake either at room temperature or in the fridge. 

  • Before storing a frosted cake in the fridge, you need to let the frosting harden for 15 minutes. After you leave it uncovered for 15 minutes, cover it loosely in plastic wrap and keep it stored in the fridge. 
  • If you don’t want to store it in the fridge you can keep it at room temperature for 4-5 days. This is a fine option as long as your kitchen doesn’t get too warm during the day. Frosted cakes do really well with this method because the frosting acts as a barrier for the cake.

Freezing? You can freeze individual cake layers (unfrosted) very easily. Let the layers cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap and then in foil. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it defrost in the fridge overnight before frosting and serving. 

If you want to freeze a fully decorated cake you can easily do that. Bake and frost as normal before you let it sit in the freezer to set up. Let it set for about 4 hours or until solid. Then, remove it from the freezer and wrap it in plastic wrap and foil. Try to eat the cake within 3 months before it dries out too quickly.

Close up of vanilla bean cake on a white cake stand

Complete the Dessert!

A slice of cake isn’t complete without a scoop of ice cream! Serve your vanilla cake with any of our favorites:

Of course – this cake is just as good on its own too, but who can deny cake AND ice cream?!

A slice of moist vanilla cake on a white plate

 For more delicious cake recipes, try: 

Perfect Vanilla Cake | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Vanilla Cake Recipe

The search is over for the perfect vanilla cake—this is it! The cake batter is really light, airy creating a delicate cake with a buttery vanilla flavor. Top it or fill it with just about anything!
5 from 6 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Servings: 32 servings
Calories: 310kcal
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup +2 tbsp (18 tbsp) unsalted butter - room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 egg whites
For the Frosting
  • 1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter - room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 6 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Spray the parchment and sides with baking spray, set aside. SEE NOTES
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean paste until pale, about 3 minutes.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the dry ingredients along with the sour cream and milk. Add 1/3 of each at a time. Do not over-mix.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. Carefully fold into the batter, taking care not to deflate them. Make sure that they are incorporated evenly.
  • Divide batter between the two pans. Use a kitchen scale if necessary to ensure they are equal.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 24-28 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla bean paste and salt, mix to combine. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the powdered sugar. Once added, pour in 1/4 cup of heavy cream and beat on high for 1 minute. If the frosting is too thick add an extra tablespoon or two of cream and continue beating for 30 seconds.
  • Peel off parchment. Place one layer bottom side up on a plate or cake stand. Cut a cake pop sticks or skewers into three pieces equal to the height of the first layer. Place in a triangle (about 4 inches apart) in the middle of the cake (this is a very light cake and the bottom layer needs support so that it won't deflate). Spread frosting over top, them place the remaining cake layer on top, bottom side up. Spread remaining frosting on top and on sides. Decorate with sprinkles or fresh fruit, if desired.

Notes

- You can use baking strips around your pans to get perfect, even layers.

Nutrition

Serving: 32g | Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 502IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg

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About the Author

Natalie

Wife, mother, baker and photographer. Recipe developer & author of Life Made Simple. A self-professed peanut butter lover and fond of anything that involves pumpkin, cookie dough, or sprinkles

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Comments:

  1. The cake looks incredible!!! I have always wanted to try vanilla bean paste, and this recipe would be a great place to start! 🙂

  2. I am a vanilla fiend, so this cake looks perfect for me. And I have always wanted to try vanilla paste instead of extract!

  3. I love vanilla and vanilla bean paste! I’d make this cake for my granddaughter’s first birthday!

  4. I am really interested in trying out this recipe! I’ve never used vanilla paste before, but I can only imagine how amazing the frosting for this cake would taste! I would definitely try this recipe out.

  5. This is an awesome sounding recipe. I can just imagine a delicious vanilla bean paste pudding topped with some vanilla bean paste whipped cream would send me into vanilla heaven. That’s what I’d make (after I made your cake recipe!)

    Wishes for tasty dishes,
    Linda

  6. I use an vanilla bean paste currently and always get compliments on the flavor. I can’t wait to try this vanilla cake! I’ve yet to find one I love and I think this could be it!! Gimme all the vanilla bean paste!!

  7. I bake a LOT but I kind of want to try it in a cocktail… I’d have to make my husband do it for me, he’s much better at cocktails than I am!

  8. I made the cake- it truly is the perfect homemade vanilla cake recipe! Moist, light and an EASY recipe to follow. 

  9. Hi – I just made this cake (delicious!!). It is so good but it didn’t rise at all. Any advice? Does your rise or did you just fill the pans pretty high? Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura, I would check your baking powder to make sure it’s still good, that’s really the only thing I can think of!

  10. Hey , hello there ,
    The recipe is awesome cake came out great but I had a little problem baking mine was done at 3o minutes when I checked the doneness at 22 minutes as u mentioned it was liquid inside and after this baking time cake was good though it was stick only at the top surface can u help me with what I may have done wrong coz it was really good and I want to make it again and again . .  Thanks 

  11. Can you tell me , should I use the plain vanilla bean paste in this recipe or the vanilla bean paste w/ bourbon in it ? Can’t wait to bake this ,,, ? yum

    1. Hi Shirley, you could use either for this recipe. There isn’t actually bourbon in the paste, it’s just the name of the region where the vanilla is sourced. So it has a slightly different aroma and taste. Hope that helps ?

  12. can I use vanilla bean instead of vanilla bean paste? Also can I use all purpose flour instead of cake flour

    1. Yes to the vanilla bean, although you will want to add vanilla extract as well. As far as the cake flour goes, the texture of the cake will not be the same. It will be slightly more dense.

  13. 5 stars
    This is the fluffiest cake!! And, the frosting is so good! I love a good vanilla cake & this one is at the top!

  14. 5 stars
    This is one of the best vanilla cake I have ever made. It was so moist and fluffy and the frosting was so yummy.