Basic Vanilla Cake
Pillowy soft, basic vanilla cake with a moist, fluffy texture. Classic vanilla cake has to be one of the easiest things to make and it never gets old! Even if someone does not enjoy frosted cakes and creamy desserts, they will at least appreciate a basic vanilla cake.
This was among the first cakes I learnt to bake. I guess every baker can agree that a plain vanilla cake recipe and a simple chocolate cake made from scratch are your ABCs into the baking world.
A gazillion different kind of vanilla cake recipes exist and many of these can be pretty good.
This particular vanilla cake recipe is simple, quick to make and results in a perfect single-layer vanilla cake. The crumb is pillowy soft and texture, moist and fluffy.
How do I make a basic vanilla cake?
First off, gather your ingredients.
Beat together softened butter and caster sugar till pale and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then, beat in flour, then milk and vanilla, just until combined. Your batter should look like this.
Pour the batter into a prepared baking pan and smooth the top using an offset spatula.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or just with a few dry crumbs. I have used a purple cake strip around my pan. The purpose of cake strips is to ensure an even rise but it is not necessary to use them.
And, there you have it! A delicious homemade vanilla cake 🙂
Tips To Get The Perfect Vanilla Cake
This recipe, and many other recipes, call for softened butter, or butter at room temperature. But what is softened butter? Butter is softened just right when your press your finger into it with slight pressure, and it leaves an indentation.
If your finger sinks into the butter, with hardly any pressure applied, your butter is too soft, which ultimately leads to a greasy cake. On the other hand, if you use butter that is too hard (straight from the fridge of freezer), it will be very difficult to beat it with the sugar in the ‘creaming method’.
WHAT IS THE CREAMING METHOD? Creaming method s a process that involves beating softened butter and sugar together till it looks light (in color) and fluffy (almost doubled in size).Creaming butter and sugar together emulsifies the ingredients. By using this technique, you are also incorporating air into the batter which ensures a light fluffy texture.
EGGS: Eggs provide structure, moisture and richness. Make sure the eggs are at room temperature before you use them in cakes. Room temperature ingredients help the batter mix together nice and even.
If eggs are not at room temperature, your batter is more likely to curdle. I usually take them out an hour before I make a cake.
To prevent curdling of batter, it is also important to add one egg at a time, and beat for one minute till it is well incorporated into the batter.
Cake flour gives the softest fluffiest cakes with fine crumb and delicate texture, making it the perfect choice for cakes. However, it is not easy to find and not something people generally have in their pantries.
Comparatively, all-purpose flour gives slightly denser, heavier cakes. Despite that, they are still good and plenty of amazing recipes use that.
I’m using self-raising flour here. Don’t fret! If you do not have self-raising flour, you can use 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
Use good quality vanilla extract to get the best vanilla flavors. Sometimes, I just use vanilla essence. This is something you should not skip, or even reduce in your cakes, unless you want to smell the eggs in your cake! (Speaking from experience, I can still smell that mistake :p )
BAKING POWDER AND BAKING SODA
These ingredients give cakes a little lift. Since this vanilla cake recipe uses self-raising flour, we will not be using baking powder or baking soda.
USE ROOM TEMPERATURE INGREDIENTS! Keep the cold ingredients (in this case, butter, eggs and milk) on your kitchen counter for at least 1 hour before you start. Room temperature ingredients help everything come together properly and gives you a well emulsified batter.
DO NOT OVER MIX! After adding flour, beat on lowest speed just until combined. Over-mixing can cause dense crumbly cakes.
DO NOT OVER BAKE! Over-baking causes cakes to be dry. Bake just until toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs. You should start checking doneness after 15 minutes. Toothpick coming out with wet batter means you need to bake for a little longer. Toothpick coming out clean or just with a few dry crumbs, means your cake is done; remove from oven immediately.
How do I neatly remove the cake from the pan?
Butter your pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. I prefer flipping the pan and placing a parchment paper over it, then cutting out a circle the size of the pan. You may trace around the bottom of the pan using a pencil and then cut it. Place this round parchment paper in the pan. Next, put a tablespoon of flour and move it around so it coats the sides of the pan. Invert the pan and tap to remove excess flour. This is the best way to to prepare your pans for cakes. Once your cake is baked, let it cool for 10 minutes and then run a butter knife along the sides to loosen the cake. Your cake will slide right out when you flip it.
Can I use frosting with this vanilla cake?
Yes definitely; vanilla buttercream frosting would go so well with this cake. Just make sure the cake cools completely before you put any frosting.
Can I make this into a layered cake?
This recipe make one 8-inch vanilla cake. I find the quantity perfect to keep alongside tea for evening supper. If you would like to make two (8-inch) layers of this vanilla cake, just double the recipe (multiply each ingredient by 2). If you would like to make four (8-inch) layers, multiply each ingredient by 4.
Can I make cupcakes using this recipe?
Yes! This recipe should make around 9-12 cupcakes. (You can even try bundt cake if you double the recipe).
Why aren’t the measurements in cups?
Due to the sensitive nature of baking , measuring ingredients by weight is the most accurate way and gives the best results. I have still put cup measurements in brackets for flour and sugar, for those of you who do not have a kitchen weighing scale. If you use cups, spoon the flour into the cup using a tablespoon, then level it with the back of a knife.
How do I serve it?
I like to serve it plain with a cup of tea. You can dust it with icing sugar for a simple, minimalist look.
If you follow all the tips mentioned, you should have a tasty fluffy vanilla cake! Here goes the easiest vanilla cake recipe:
Basic Vanilla Cake
- 125 grams Unsalted butter softened, room temperature
- 125 grams (½ cup) Caster sugar (NOT ICING SUGAR!)
- 2 Large Eggs
- 125 grams (1 cup) Self-raising flour If you do not have self-raising flour, you can use 1 cup of all-purpose flour with ½ teaspoon of salt and 1½ teaspoon of baking powder.
- 1½ tablespoons Milk Whole
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180°c. Butter and flour an 8 inch round baking pan. Invert and tap out excess flour. Keep aside. You may use a small square pan too.
- In a bowl of stand mixer, with paddle attachment, add softened butter and caster sugar. Beat for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition of egg.
- Sift in self-raising flour. Beat on lowest speed just until combined. Or you may fold the flour into the batter using a rubber spatula instead.
- Finally, add milk and vanilla extract, and beat on lowest speed just until combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tooth inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack or serving plate to cool completely.
Did you try this recipe?
I would love to know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and post a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #theovenist.