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

  • 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 buttermilk (or 1 1/2 cups whole milk + 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
(I find that the type of vegetable oil makes a big difference in the taste.  You need to use a light, neutral flavored oil that doesn't overpower the cake.  You can also substitute melted butter for half the oil for a cake that's still moist, but with a nice buttery flavor.)

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