6 inch Vanilla Cake

This 6 inch vanilla cake is perfect for smaller groups, smash cakes and so much more! Make a moist, delicious vanilla cake and learn how to adapt many of my cake recipes for use as 6 inch cakes!

6 inch vanilla cake covered in sprinkles on blue napkin
slice of 6 inch vanilla cake on white plate

Small Batch Cakes

Over the years, I’ve found that one of the most common questions I get is about turning my cakes into smaller 6 inch cakes. The smaller cakes are usually great for small family occasions, smash cakes, etc. They could even be great if you wanted to have a couple cake flavors at an event without ending up with too much cake. There are really endless reasons for 6 inch cakes.

So I finally got around to testing them a bit so that I could answer these questions. What really is the best way to adapt an 8 inch cake recipe to 6 inch pans? Should you reduce the ingredients and get a shorter cake, or keep it the same and get a taller cake? My personal preference is to reduce it. So how much?

Reduce Cake Batter by Half

Fortunately, the answer was far simpler than I expected! All you need to do is reduce the cake batter by half and you have the perfect amount for three 6 inch pans. Each cake layer should bake up to be about an inch tall. When you add frosting between the layers and frost the cake, it should end up being roughly 3 1/2 inches tall or so. Perfection!

And guess what this means?! Not only can you easily convert cake recipes to 6 inch pans by cutting them in half, you can also easily use my cupcake recipes for 6 inch cake pans. The majority of my cupcake recipes are made using half of my cake recipe, giving you about 12-14 cupcakes. So, any cupcake recipe that produces 12-14 cupcakes (or so) should be perfect for 6 inchs pan too. Yay!

6 inch vanilla cake on white cake stand

Endless 6 inch Cake Options

So armed with that information, this gives you endless 6 inch cake options to try. I have this vanilla cake written out for you below, but you’ll notice that it’s the same as half of my Moist Vanilla Layer Cake and exactly the same as my Easy Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes recipe. So here are some other classics that would be great to try, but you really could really try most any on this site.

Most non-chocolate cakes should take about 15-20 minutes to bake. My chocolate cakes that are based on my Best Moist Chocolate Cake will take closer to 20-25 minutes. It’s a slow bake cake, so the smaller version is as well and it just takes a little longer.

slice of vanilla cake with a bite taken on white plate

How Much Buttercream Do I Need?

When making this 6 inch vanilla cake, I used half the amount of buttercream that I used for the 8 inch cake and it was just the right amount. Generally speaking, about half should work well. Some people like more or less frosting though, so feel free to adjust to your liking. I tend to use a fair amount of frosting.

How to Make a 6 inch Cake

The process for a 6 inch cake is really no different than any other. You’re just working with less of each ingredient and smaller cake pans.

  • Prep your equipment: Prepare three 6 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • Mix dry ingredients: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar: Add the butter, sugar, oil and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  • Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter may look a touch curdled, but that’s ok.
  • Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  • Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  • Cool: Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

To make the buttercream

  • Cream: Beat the butter until smooth.
  • Add sugar: Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Add vanilla: Add the vanilla extract and 4-5 tablespoons of water or cream and mix until smooth.
  • Add rest of the sugar: Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Adjust as needed: Add additional water or milk, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.

To build the cake

I have a several helpful posts that show you the process of building cakes – from how to level cakes, to how to fill and stack them, to how to frost a smooth cake, so be sure to check those out too. The process is the same, just a little easier with smaller 6 inch layers to work with.

small slice of cake on white plate with blue napkin

Easy 6 inch Vanilla Cake

If you love the ease and lesser portions of small 6 inch cakes, then this vanilla cake is for you! As mentioned, there are lots of options for great 6 inch cake flavors. With only the need to cut the recipe in half (or use one of my cupcakes recipes), there’s immediately an endless number of cakes to try. Try your favorites and let me know what you think!

Print
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slice of 6 inch vanilla cake on white plate
Recipe

6 inch Vanilla Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This 6 inch vanilla cake is perfect for smaller groups, smash cakes and so much more! Make a moist, delicious vanilla cake and learn how to adapt many of my cake recipes for use as 6 inch cakes!


Ingredients

Vanilla Cake Layers

  • 1 1/4 cups (163g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (84g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (155g) sugar
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp (150ml) milk

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups (336g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups (690g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 46 tbsp (60-90ml) water or heavy cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sprinkles, optional


Instructions

For the Cake:

  1. Prepare three 6 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, sugar, oil and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  6. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter will look curdled, but that’s ok.
  7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

  1. To make the frosting, beat the butter until smooth.
  2. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, 4 tablespoons of water or cream and salt and mix until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional water or milk, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.

To Assemble the Cake:

  1. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat.
  2. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  3. Spread about 1/2 a cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  4. Add the second layer of cake and another half cup of frosting.
  5. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  6. Press sprinkles into the sides of the cake. Pipe a shell border around the top edge and bottom of the cake. I used Ateco tip 844.
  7. Store in an air-tight container. Cake is best eaten within 3-4 days.

Keywords: 6 inch vanilla cake

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Recipe rating

12 Comments
  1. Lina Martin

    Your cakes are so delicious! They always turn out great. Excellent recipes, thank you.
    You have a follower in Costa Rica and I always recommend you when people talk about the delicious cakes I make.
    Pura vida!

  2. Laura

    Thank you so much for the information on downsizing cakes, information that definitely deserves a 5-star rating!
    The sprinkles mixture you used is beautiful. Is it a custom mix that you created or is it commercially available? Either way, you have given me a great idea on how to use up the remaining bits and pieces of several different sprinkle types. Funny–I have never thought about combining them myself. :o)

  3. Erica

    Hi! I was what height is your cake pan? 6×2? Or 6×3? I have 6×3 so it didn’t give me 3 layers might be why because they’re a little taller.

  4. Wendy

    You are a treasure Lindsay, I love to bake and the recipes I have made of yours, all turned out wonderful and delicious!! Big thanks. 🌈💐

  5. Jan

    I thank you so much for doing this and explaining things you are my life saver thanks for sharing I enjoy all your recipes 🥰😍

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12