I am so excited to share this recipe for a Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cake with you today! It’s a cake I’ve been making for years, but wanted to tweak and it’s finally ready!
For those who know me and see me regularly, they know that I play with vanilla recipes like it’s my job. I kind of feel like you are only as good as your best vanilla cake. It is super important to have a wonderful one, and yet it seems to be the hardest for people to find. Plus everyone has their own idea of what makes it “the best”. I think I might have made it my life’s mission to make the best vanilla cake for everyone. It may not be that there’s one “best” recipe for all, but maybe a couple recipes that you can choose from. Bottom line – I make a lot of vanilla cake. And it’s all for you. 🙂
So let’s talk a little about this recipe. You may or may not have seen/made my vanilla cupcakes. They have been quite popular and it’s a recipe I go back to time and time again. I love it and so many others love it too.
But it always amazes me how people love different things about cakes. Many people have agreed that they are perfect, moist and fluffy and it’s their new favorite. Yet some think they are too dense. To be fair, when you bake it as a cake, it is fairly dense. And yet, every time I do a taste comparison with a larger group (usually our church group), it’s their favorite – whether a cake or cupcakes. Funny, right?
But I am someone who likes options. I don’t want to feel limited and I’m sure I’m not the only one. And since I’ve loved this cake for so long, I decided it was time to share it so you could have more options. 🙂 The only reason I haven’t shared it sooner is that I wanted to tweak a few things. One thing being that the original recipe didn’t do well as cupcakes. They separated from the liners as they cooled, so I wanted to fix that (and I did!).
Of course, now it begs the question of how this recipe is different from the other one. Neither is necessarily better than the other. That really depends on your preference. But any time I see multiple options for a particular flavor (like vanilla) on someone’s site, I’m always curious about the differences so I know which one I want to try. So I want to break down some of the differences and similarities for you.
First, let’s talk about the ingredients. Just like with the other recipe, I wanted to have simple ingredients that most people usually have on hand. The original recipe calls for cake flour and I wanted to replace that with all purpose flour. That, plus some other tweaks to account for the change, and you now have a pretty normal ingredient list. Score!
Second, there’s the mixing method. The other recipe is very simple. Basically a throw everything together and mix method, which is wonderfully easy. This cake uses the creaming method. The steps are more involved and definitely need to be followed.
Third is the final cake taste and texture. Again, this is very subjective in terms of which is better. I love them both. They both have excellent vanilla flavor. This cake is flatter on top when baked. As for which is denser, or fluffier, I think they’re both fluffy and dense. Confusing, right?
This cake manages to be a little denser-seeming, as there aren’t as many air pockets in the baked cake. But when you bite into it, it actually has a super fluffy taste and feel to it. I feel like the other recipe is actually the denser one, especially when made as a cake, but it has more air pockets and also manages to seem fluffy. Both are very moist.
Personally, I like the other recipe for cupcakes (they’re still my perfect cupcake!) and this one for a cake. But both can be used as a cake or cupcakes and both are delicious.
Hopefully that explanation was more helpful than confusing. 🙂
The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong with either, though you might end up preferring one over the other if you try them both.
I love the texture of this cake. It is absolutely wonderful when layered and iced and I find it very hard to not want to eat the entire cake. It really is a very soft and moist cake. I recently shared it with a friend who wanted to make a vanilla cake for her daughter’s birthday and they loved it!
So there you have it – another vanilla cake/cupcake recipe. Decisions, decisions. If you give them both a try, I’d love to know what you think. 🙂
SHOP THE RECIPE
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Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cake
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 33 minutes
- Total Time: 53 minutes
- Yield: 12-14 Slices, or 36 Cupcakes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
This is a cake I’ve been making for years, but wanted to tweak and it’s finally ready!
- 1 1/2 cups (336g) salted butter, room temp (I use Challenge Butter)
- 2 1/4 cups (466g) sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups (390g) all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups (360ml) milk
- 1 1/2 cups (336g) salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups (284g) shortening
- 12 cups (1380g) powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 6–7 tbsp (90-105ml) water or milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
2. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, no more. The texture of the batter will change and become thicker and may seem a little curdled.
4. Combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
5. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
6. Add about half of the milk and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
7. Continue alternating adding dry and wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, and beating until incorporated after each addition. There should be three total additions of dry ingredients and two total additions of milk. End with the dry ingredients. The batter will be thick and glossy.
8. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and spread evenly.
9. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Don’t be alarmed if the tops are a little browned, that is normal.
10. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes.
11. Remove cakes from pans to cooling racks and cool completely before frosting.
12. To make icing, combine butter and shortening and mix until smooth.
13. Add 6 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
14. Add vanilla extract and 4 tbsp of water or milk and mix until smooth.
15. Add remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
16. Add more water or milk until desired consistency is reached.
17. To assemble cake, place first layer of cake on your cake stand or plate. NOTE: The cake layers shouldn’t have a rounded dome on top of them, but if they do, cut them off before stacking.
18. Add about 1 1/2 cups icing and spread into an even layer.
19. Add second layer of cake and another 1 1/2 cups of icing.
20. Top cake with remaining layer of cake.
21. Use the rest of the icing to ice the outside of the cake. For instructions on icing a smooth cake and the piping, here is a tutorial on How to Frost a Smooth Cake.
TO MAKE CUPCAKES:
Follow instructions above through number 7. Fill cupcake liners about 1/2 way. Bake at 350 degrees for about 16-18 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely. Recipe makes about 36 cupcakes.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 1200
- Sugar: 123.7 g
- Sodium: 419.1 mg
- Fat: 66.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 146.3 g
- Protein: 8.8 g
- Cholesterol: 119.2 mg
Keywords: yellow cake recipe, vanilla cake recipe, best birthday cake recipe, easy birthday cake recipe
Recipe modified from this recipe.
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I love this recipe so much! It’s so light and moist which are 2 attributes of a cake that I have been looking for! Thanks for this amazing recipe, Lindsay! It’s now my go-to for vanilla cake.
Question: Could I add cocoa powder to make this a chocolate cake or replace vanilla with a different extract for a different flavor?
I’m so glad you enjoy it! You could swap out some flour for cocoa powder, but the cake would likely need other adjustments to really to be ideal. I would recommend my Best Chocolate Cake. You can definitely replace vanilla with other extracts though.
Question: How do you get the icing pink color?
Use gel icing color and add it to your frosting.
Hello, How many cups of batter does this cake make? I need to make a 3 layer tiered cake, and need to calculate for my 3 cake pan sizes
I’m not sure, I have not measured that.
I love the recipe
Thank you very much
Hi Lindsay, would this recipe work for a 9×9 inch square pan? Love all of your recipes!
I haven’t tried it to be able to say. I’m sure it’d bake fine, the cake just might not be as tall. And I’d probably do it in two layers, not all in one pan.
How do you get the pink color of your buttercream?
Pink gel icing color
I love this recipe very much. I was looking for a plain cake recipe that’s soft and moist and this was it. Even days after and putting the cake in the fridge the cake stood up well. Can I use juice instead of milk with this recipe?
Glad you enjoyed it! In theory, yes you can use juice. But milk also has fat in it that contributes to the texture of the cake. If you’re going to add some juice, I might only replace part of the milk, not all of it.
I love this recipe it’s been my go to! Recently my centers have been sinking in while cooling. I’m making it for my Grandmother’s 90th birthday this weekend and I really want it to be perfect! Any tips to avoid the sinking? Am I not cooking it long enough? Thanks!
A cake sinking in the middle could be for several reasons – under baking, opening the oven too soon, baking powder or baking soda that has gone bad. It’s hard to say for sure, but those are common ones.