Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Just a Vanilla Cake Recipe




For quite a while now, I've been intending to post a series of my favorite, basic, from-scratch cake recipes.  I test and develop all of my own recipes, and a vanilla or chocolate cake is often the starting point for much more elaborate creations, so it's important to have a perfect foundation for each one.  I don't want to make cakes that only look pretty, but that taste fantastic, too.

I am frequently asked, what's your favorite chocolate cake recipe?  There are so many to choose from on your blog!  The wife of one of my coworkers, who has tried a few of my recipes, asked me to point her towards a simple vanilla cake, and as I perused my recipe archives to offer her a suggestion, I realized I didn't have a straightforward answer, so I had to tell her, "try the cake recipe in this one, but without this, and substitute that, and you'll have a good vanilla cake."  But I wanted to do better than that for all of you, and it's been on my mind ever since.







So here you go.  I'm starting with a classic vanilla cake, which I hope will help you with your own baking adventures, when you just want to get back to the basics.

I genuinely love vanilla, and I don't think there's anything plain about it, really.  Vanilla is a complex flavor that pairs so beautifully with so many other ingredients.  While I used good quality vanilla extract, use vanilla beans whenever you want to indulge a little; although expensive, their flavor is unparalleled.







This cake has a beautiful crumb and is wonderfully moist, even days after baking.  Not quite as airy and fluffy as a white cake, vanilla cake is a little richer although still light, and the perfect choice for a birthday or party cake that will please everyone.

Next Post in this Series: White Cake

Baker's Note: If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I live in Colorado, and I create and test all of my recipes for high altitude.  If you bake one of my recipes at sea level, your results may be different, but there are many tips available online for adjusting recipes for your altitude.  Good luck!







Vanilla Cake
printable

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease three 8-inch pans with non-stick spray.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined, then beat on medium speed for two minutes.  Divide the batter between the pans.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 21 minutes.  Cool the cakes in the pans completely, then frost with your favorite buttercream.  Here is my recipe for perfect buttercream.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

78 comments :

  1. Thanks..

    You know..even in all it's simplicity..you've made it stunning.
    Always pretty here.

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    1. You always leave the nicest comments! I'm glad my blog is a place people can find beauty.

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    2. Why did you separate the yolks and white if you are adding to the wet

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  2. this a lucky one birthday if he/she celebrates it with this amazing cake,

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  3. Sometimes a good vanilla cake is just perfect, and I'm sure this one fits the bill! Looks just delicious :)

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    1. I agree, good cakes don't necessarily need to be complicated!

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  4. I'm making this for my fiancé and myself for the second time this week!! We love it so much. ... Thanks Heather!

    - Heather H.

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    1. I'm so glad you love it! Thanks for commenting! :)

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  5. Hi, I wondered if I could ask a somewhat silly question. Can this recipe be used for cupcakes (like I said, silly, but just want to be sure), and if so, how many do you think it will make? Have you ever done that? It seems fairly straight-forward and I'm baking for my granddaughter's birthday this weekend. Any suggestions or tips gratefully appreciated. Thanks!

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  6. This cake came out very good! nice and light and sweet

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  7. I made this cake just 2 days ago. It tasted awesome but was gooey inside. Even after leaving it for longer in the oven. I don't know what went wrong but I don't think I'll be trying it again

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    1. That's too bad! I wish I could tell you what went wrong but I can only guess that your oven temp was off and it was under baked, or an ingredient was left out.

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    2. Your oven may not be calibrated correctly, or it could be that it heats unevenly, you may have to spin the pan around while baking...

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  8. What kind of Vanilla do you use?

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    1. I usually use the Kirkland brand of Pure Vanilla that I buy at Costco, but when I want to splurge, I love the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste, which you can buy on Amazon.

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  9. From one curly girl baker to another, this is hands down THE BEST vanilla cake recipe I have ever made. Better than Magnolia Bakery and Ina Garten. Perfection. Very excited to try your other recipes. This one is a keeper!

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  10. This is a lovely recipe! Someone requested a "pineapple cake" so I was looking for simple, vanilla cake that I could layer with pineapple filling, and this was perfect and uncomplicated. I did have to tweak the baking time because I only had two 7" pans. They came out beautifully and delicately and I am going to frost with vanilla buttercream roses. Thank you! xoxx

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    1. The pineapple filling sounds amazing! I'm so glad you liked the cake. :)

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  11. Might be a silly question! But I was wondering if you let your eggs/egg whites/milk get to room temperature before baking? Could this be done in 2 8 inch pans (3 inches tall)? How long would I need to bake?

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    1. Yes, it's always a good idea to let your dairy warm up a bit before mixing the batter. You can definitely use just two pans - just bake a little longer and keep an eye on them for doneness.

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  12. Does it need to be vegetable oil or will canola work as well?

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    1. Canola should work fine, too. You just don't want to use something with a strong flavor, like olive oil, or it will affect the taste of the cake.

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  13. Can you use 2% milk in place of whole milk? Thanks, Lisa Phillips

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    1. If you want, but whole milk tastes better. :)

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  14. What a lovely recipe, Thank you so much....

    http://www.cakengifts.in/cake-delivery-in-dehradun

    http://www.cakengifts.in/cake-delivery-in-delhi

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  15. This is by far the best vanilla cake I have ever had/made. I am so excited - thank you so much!

    Have you frozen it? Hoping it freezes well.

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    1. That makes me so happy to hear! Yes, I've frozen it by wrapping each layer in plastic wrap, and then thawing out to room temperature before frosting. I freeze cakes often, to save time on the day of decorating, but usually not for more than a week or two in advance so that they're still very fresh.

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  16. Hello, I love your recepies!! They're the ones I've used for my cakes! I was wondering if I could use fondant for all the recepies in your favorite recepie series. I'd really love your response because I'm waiting to use them. Thank you so much!

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    1. I think you probably could, but I don't have much experience covering cakes in fondant so I couldn't say for sure. The white cake might be too lightweight.

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  17. How much of the recipe do I have to bake to come up with a 3-layer 10" round cake for a bday party?
    I would really appreciate your response....love your cakes!!
    Thanks,
    Raggedlyann@gmail.com

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    1. For 3 10-inch pans, I would recommend making 1 1/2x the recipe.

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  18. Hi, I can hardly wait to try your recipes.
    Are there any others at sea level that had to change anything? I've never done that and I'm worried.

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    1. Heather hice su receta tal como la describe ,vivo al nivel del mar y quedo esponjosa y muy húmeda gracias.

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  19. Do you have to whip egg whites and fold them into this recipe?

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  20. This sounds delicious, but I'm wondering if I can leave out the vinegar? Have you ever made it without? Thank you for your post.

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    1. I wouldn't leave out the vinegar. It cooks off so you don't taste it but it adds so much to recipes. I have a chocolate cake recipe that calls for it and everyone raves about it

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  21. I can't wait to try this. I have been looking for a good vanilla recipe. I feel like the recipes I have been using are dry. I have a chocolate cake recipe that is beyond moist and I just want a good vanilla one. This looks perfect. The vinegar and oil will keep it moist and the baking soda with the vinegar will keep it fluffy. I am so excited to make this

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  22. Hi, I would love to try this recipe, but I only have 9 inch pans. Can I use three 9 inch pans instead of the 3 8 inch pans? Thanks

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    1. You can, but the cake will not end up as tall.

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  23. Hi I really need a vanilla cake and this sounds perfect. Can I use 9x13 pan? I want to make it into a phone cake. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, you can! Just bake a little longer and check for doneness in the middle.

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  24. I tried your white cake and it was excellent- has a very tender crumb and wonderful flavor. My family ate it before I could even frost it! I am anxious to try your vanilla cake. I love the flavor of butter but many of the vanilla cake recipes I've tried have way too much butter and taste more like a pound cake. I notice this only has oil. I was wondering how this affects the flavor? Can a small part of the oil be substituted with real butter for a hint of added flavor? Thanks! -Jenni Ann

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    1. Butter can be used instead, but it will change the texture somewhat. Butter-based cakes tend to be a little more dense, like pound cake, while oil keeps the cake fluffy and moist.

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  25. Can I use butter instead of oil? I only have olive oil and coconut oil.

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    1. Butter can be used instead, but it will change the texture somewhat. Butter-based cakes tend to be a little more dense, like pound cake, while vegetable oil keeps the cake fluffy and moist.

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  26. Hi! Is there a substitute for the white vinegar?

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  27. Replies
    1. Butter can be used instead, but it will change the texture somewhat. Butter-based cakes tend to be a little more dense, like pound cake, while vegetable oil keeps the cake fluffy and moist.

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  28. I made this cake for my mother's birthday. I substituted 1 cup of the milk with hazelnut coffee creamer. I baked it in a sheet pan and cut four 5 inch circles. I put a thin layer of homemade caramel sauce between each layer. I iced it using your Buttercream recipe, using the coffee creamer instead of milk. A sprinkling of toasted pecans went on top. Everyone loved it. My daughter said it was the best cake she had ever eaten. I think the possibilities with this cake are endless. The Buttercream is spectacular, too. Not the cloying sweet from too much powdered sugar. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

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    1. Wow, what you did with the hazelnut creamer and the caramel sauce sounds amazing! I love when a great basic recipe can be turned into a custom creation like what you did. :)

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  29. Is this cake dense enough to be the bottom tier of a three tier cake?

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    1. With the top tiers supported on dowels it should be just fine!

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  30. can I substitute buttermilk for whole milk and vinegar?

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    1. Please see above comments for this question and answer. :)

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  31. Hello, you might have answered this but what is the vinegar for?

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    1. Please see above comments for this question and answer. :)

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  32. I was looking for a new recipe for a birthday cake. I think I'll try this vanilla one of yours.
    Back in Aug 2018 someone asked why you separated the eggs if you added them all as wet ingredients. Hopefully I'm understanding that you don't separate, you use 2 whole eggs and another 2 egg whites,is that correct?

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  33. Heather, I just want you to know...i keep trying new Vanilla recipes...but I ALWAYS come back to this one. It's been my absolute favorite!
    Thank you for sharing.

    AAlso, going to attempt to use for cupcakes for the first time. Any suggestions?

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    1. I haven’t made this into cupcakes, but I imagine it should be just fine.

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  34. Can u use this recipe to make a 13 x 9 sheet cake ?

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  35. Could you tell me if I can use this cake recipe for a Wilton Cross cake pan ?

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    1. Yes, it should work great! I don't know how long it will take to bake in the center, so just keep an eye on it for doneness. That should be the perfect Easter cake. :)

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  36. Is there a certain order to add the wet ingredients? Or do we mix those separately first? I’m always concerned about over mixing and I wasn’t sure if I needed to wait after each addition until it was mixed it or just dump them all in at once. Thank you!!

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    1. There's no specific order, just add them and mix. It's not a finicky recipe, so I'm sure you can't go wrong!

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  37. Please tell me how to adapt this to a 12 inch pan. Many thanks!

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    1. For how many layers? If it's for a 3-layer cake, then perhaps 1 1/2 times the recipe would be enough batter, but it may require a full double recipe. It's hard for me to say, since I don't usually make cakes that large.

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  38. Looks lovely. Using cake flour usually delivers a finer crumb. Have u tried using cake flour & it didnt work? Thanks!

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    1. I use cake flour for my white cake recipe, and you can certainly use it in this recipe, as well, but all-purpose works great, too.

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  39. I am making a cake for my nieces 2nd Birthday next weekend and stumbled upon this recipe. I made it yesterday to test it out and found it to be oily. I usually use butter, but loved the reviews of your recipe. Is there a way to adjust the amount of oil? My husband said this was the best cake I’ve made, but he says that every time. The oiliness of this cake concerned me. I took a picture of a piece and will post it if I can find where to do so. Thanks!

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    1. Jacquelyn, I've found that some brands of oil work better (and taste better) than others, and since this is a vanilla cake with no other stand-out flavors, then I've noticed the oil can be a bit much when I buy the wrong brand. But if you find it to be too oily, then I think you can simply reduce the oil to a half cup and replace that with the same amount of milk/buttermilk, and it should still turn out great. Let me know!

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  40. Hi, I made this cake yesterday and it was delicious. I left it a little bit more time in the oven, (about 8 -10 minutes) and came out perfect in color, texture and the flavor was awesome. My family was happy and enjoyed it so much. I will make this again for my niece´s bday. Thank you so much for such an easy and delicious cake recipe. Greetings from Perú

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  41. Want to make a large cake (11x15) can I double the ingredients, also can I use apple cider vinegar?

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