Moist Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

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This Moist Vanilla Layer Cake is just what it sounds like – a classic vanilla cake recipe topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles. This is one of those easy, homemade cake recipes that everyone needs to know how to make!

A slice of vanilla layer cake with frosting

Easy Homemade Vanilla Layer Cake

So it’s basically a running joke with a few friends, my mom and the hubs that vanilla cake is like my obsession. At this point, I have a handful of vanilla cake and cupcake recipes and I won’t pretend that I won’t have another at some point. It could totally happen.

Here’s the thing.

Vanilla is like the most illusive, most basic, most important flavors in all the cake land. I wouldn’t declare it my favorite flavor, but it’s super important to have a good vanilla cake in your repertoire and most people have trouble finding one they like. It’s basically become my life’s mission to have a vanilla cake recipe for everyone. And since nobody can agree on a “best” vanilla cake (just read the comments on my other vanilla cake/cupcake recipes and you’ll see what I mean), I have several options. This new one is based on feedback from the others.

Frosted vanilla cake on a stand with sprinkles

This is Not My First Attempt at the Best Vanilla Cake Recipe

Before I get into this one, let’s review the old ones. You never know, you might want to try those too, if you haven’t already. 😉

  • Vanilla Cupcakes – My very first attempt at the best vanilla base was with these vanilla cupcakes almost 4 years ago. Crazy! There are hundreds of comments and most people love them, but there are some that don’t. You can sometimes get little chunks of butter in them (which is actually fine) and they are a little denser than some expect. But they are super straight forward to make, always turn out and delicious, in my opinion. However, they are on the denser side, especially when made into a cake.
  • Vanilla Layer Cake – So then I shared this vanilla layer cake. It’s a super light cake, has a nice fluff factor and again is nice and moist. This cake has been a long standing vanilla cake around here and for the most part satisfies. It’s not that fabulous as a cupcake though, in my opinion.
  • Vanilla Cupcakes Take 2 – So then I decided I needed a new recipe. One that was great as a cake and a cupcake. So I introduced this little guy. I was sure this was it. Everyone would finally agree that this was “the one”. It’s like the most straight forward ever. Reminds me of a cake mix with it’s ease of putting it together. Like, how does it get better than that? And yet, some people don’t seem to get the right results. I can’t figure it out, but it’s a sad thing. Yet again, some people think I’m a genius and others think I’m crazy. Not totally unlike other parts of life. 😉
  • Vanilla Cupcakes Take 3 – Not one to be a quitter as far as finding the one recipe above them all, I shared this one – my Favorite Moist Vanilla Cupcake. I’m still a major fan of this cupcake and it’s been my go-to for some time now. Moist, fluffy, flavorful, my love. You can find it in various forms around the blog – both as a cake and as cupcakes. It’s near and dear to my heart, but alas still not all are satisfied.
slice of cake on plate

What Makes this Vanilla Cake Different?

So that brings us to today’s cake. I have no doubt that this will not satisfy all. But my goodness with all the choices, surely there’s something here for everyone. 🙂

What’s different about this cake, you ask? Great question!

  • Whole eggs: First, most of the other recipes use just egg whites. This older recipe, when made as a cake, uses six. That’s very sad for the yolks that are left on the sidelines wondering what they did wrong to not get picked as players in the cake-making game. So this cake uses whole eggs.
  • Milk instead of sour cream: Plus, lots of people aren’t into sour cream. Who knew?! I personally love the flavor and moisture it adds to cake, but I omitted it from this one for those are aren’t into it. It’s all about the milk in this cake!
  • Butter + Oil: This cake also uses butter with a little bit of oil. Oil vs butter can be a touchy topic with strong opinions, but this one is the best of both worlds. Overall, I love a butter-based vanilla cake. But there’s no denying that the oil adds some nice moisture so there’s a touch of it in here for a nice mix of the two.
  • Easier recipe: And finally, the mixing method is somewhat simplified. It still uses the creaming method, so it’s not as easy as the throw-and-go style of some of the other options, but there’s a few less steps and such.
overhead view of cake showing highlighting sprinkles

How to Make Vanilla Cake

  • Prep your equipment: Prepare three 8 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 will look 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 22-25 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.
Slice of vanilla cake with a bite taken out

How to Make the Vanilla Frosting

This vanilla cake is covered with a classic, easy vanilla buttercream frosting. Here’s how to make it:

  • Cream: Beat the butter and shortening together 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 milk 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.

I have a helpful post that show you how to frost a cake and this post from Beyond Frosting demonstrates how to color frosting if you’re interested in that info!

Can This Recipe Be Used for Cupcakes?

I also tested this cake as cupcakes and they turn out just as delicious – which is a wonderful thing. Any time you have a great vanilla recipe that works as both a cake and a cupcake, it’s a big win.

decorated Moist Vanilla Layer Cake angled view

It’s hard to describe exactly how all these versions are different, but I’ll say that this one is a nice blend of things that people like and dislike about some of the others. The final cake is moist, super soft and delicious, with relatively straight forward ingredients and method. It’s a winner in my book, so I hope you enjoy it!

Read transcript

Moist Vanilla Layer Cake

Moist Vanilla Layer Cake is just what it sounds like – a moist, soft vanilla cake that’s easy to make too!

  • Author: Life, Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

VANILLA CAKE

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk

VANILLA FROSTING

  • 1 1/2 cups (336g) salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (284g) shortening
  • 12 cups (1380g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 67 tbsp (90-105ml) water or milk
  • Violet get icing color
  • Cornflower blue gel icing color
  • Sprinkles*

Instructions

For the Cake:

  1. Prepare three 8 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 22-25 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 and shortening together until smooth.
  2. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and 4-5 tablespoons of water or milk 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 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  4. Add the second layer of cake and another 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
  7. Color the remaining frosting to your desired shade. I used a mix of purple and cornflower blue gel icing color.
  8. Pipe swirls of frosting around the top edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 844.
  9. Add a few more sprinkles to the top of the cake. Store in an air-tight container. Cake is best for 3-4 days.

*I used a mix of these sprinkles and ones similar to these.

Notes

For cupcakes, use the same temperature. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs. This recipe should make about 24-28 cupcakes.

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Enjoy!

Moist Vanilla Layer Cake