Light, tender, and moist VANILLA CAKE covered and layered with a vanilla frosting. Above all, this easy-to-bake cake is the most versatile cake you’ll ever bake. You can doll it up depending on the occasion!
Let me reshare this with you guys just in time for the holiday season. Since Christmas is just a few days away, it deserves the easiest, lightest, and buttery cake that can be actually served on any occasion.
Yes, I’m talking about Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Easter, Mother’s Day, birthday, anniversary – you name it. This cake will make a great dessert centerpiece for any celebration.
Is There a Difference Between Yellow Cake and Vanilla Cake?
While you can easily distinguish chocolate cake from the rest, that sounds a bit too hard when you place yellow and vanilla cake side by side.
But first of all, let’s start with the more debatable “white cake vs. yellow cake.“
White cakes are often used in weddings because of, you guessed it, pure white color. This type of cake uses egg whites only and shortening to keep its white color.
On the other hand, yellow cakes use both the egg white and yolk and use butter instead of shortening to give off that yellow tint. Using the whole egg and butter means yellow cakes have more fat compared to the white ones; the reason why it’s more tender and flavorful.
Now here comes the Vanilla Cake to add more confusion.
Both yellow and white cake add vanilla (see my Homemade Vanilla Extract HERE) in their batter as a flavoring so which means that we can call them yellow vanilla or white vanilla cake. It’s also worth noting that some white cakes stray away from using vanilla to keep their pure white color.
So if you see a recipe that specifically says Vanilla Cake, you’ve got to check its ingredients if it’s white which uses egg whites only, OR yellow cake which uses both the yolk and egg white.
As for our Vanilla Cake, I use whole eggs in this recipe and butter. But what makes it even more on the “vanilla-er” side is the smooth vanilla frosting which I think you will love.
What Makes a Cake Moist?
If you’ve noticed (and kudos to you), I use butter and oil in this recipe as oil adds moisture to a cake. Aside from that, adding oil in this recipe also results in a lighter crumb which tends to age better as the days go by than pure butter cake.
Moreover, using sour cream on cakes (also try my Moist Banana Cake HERE) makes it moister as it contains acid which reduces gluten formation that tenderizes the cake or any baked goods.
Can I Use Both Butter and Oil in Cake?
Oh yes, you sure can. This recipe has a combination of butter and oil to give off that nice buttery taste while keeping it soft and moist at the same time. Cake using pure butter tends to be more dense and dry compared to adding oil into the batter. I use canola oil for this Vanilla Cake, but you may substitute it with vegetable oil.
Can I use a Different Pan Size?
Yes, you are most certainly welcome to try but make sure to adjust the baking time. I haven’t tried making this recipe with a different pan size as it is specifically written for 9-inch round pans that make two layers of Vanilla Cake goodness.
For those adventurous enough, feel free to use your favorite frosting and doll it up however you like. You may use a chocolate frosting instead (or check my Guinness Chocolate Cake HERE) or sprinkle this cake with toasted coconut flakes just like this Coconut Cake HERE. Your call!
That’s probably the best thing about this Vanilla Cake recipe; you can pretty much customize it to go with the occasion. The most basic cake to have on your list. Make every day worth celebrating!
How to Make Vanilla Cake
Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F. Then grease 2 “9” inch pan generously with baking spray and set aside. Using a hand mixer, cream together the butter, canola or vegetable oil, and sugar for about 3 minutes. Then add sour cream and continue mixing until it is fluffy and starts to look white – about 2 minutes or more. Add in the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition.
Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
Then add the milk, vanilla extract. Continue mixing making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so everything gets mixed in.
Pour batter into the 2 greased cake pans in 2 equal parts.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 18 -20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the pans and transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely before frosting with your favorite frosting, in this case, I used vanilla frosting.
Add butter in a medium bowl then sieve in powdered sugar a little at a time. Mix using a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Pour in the vanilla extract. Gently add just enough remaining milk to get to make the frosting easy to spread. Adjust the thickness of the frosting with more powdered sugar, if too thick add more milk. Proceed with assembling and frosting the cakes and then decorate the cake with sprinkles, if desired.
Watch How to Make It
This post was first published in March 2019 and has been updated with a video.
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup (118ml) canola oil
- 1½ cups (300g) sugar
- ½ cup (115g) sour cream
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2½ cups (312g) all- purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons (5g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
- ½ cup (122g) milk
- 2 teaspoons (8ml) vanilla extract
- 1½ cups (340g) butter, softened
- 5-6 cups (625-750g) icing sugar (confectioners or powdered sugar)
- 2 teaspoons (8ml) vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45ml) milk
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/177℃. Then grease two 9-inch cake pans generously with baking spray and set aside.
- Cream the butter, canola or vegetable oil, and sugar using a hand mixer for about 3 minutes. Then add sour cream and continue mixing until it is fluffy and starts to look white – about 2 minutes or more.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
- Then add the milk and vanilla extract. Continue mixing, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, so everything gets mixed in.
- Divide the batter between the two greased cake pans equally. Bake at 350℉/177℃ for 18-20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the cake's center comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the pans, transfer them to a wire rack, and let them cool completely before frosting with your favorite frosting. In this recipe, I used vanilla frosting.
- Add butter in a medium bowl then sift in the powdered sugar a little at a time. Mix using a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Pour in the vanilla extract.
- Gently add just enough milk to make the frosting easy to spread. Adjust the thickness of the frosting with more powdered sugar if it's too thin. If too thick, add more milk.
- Proceed with assembling and frosting the cake, then (if desired) decorate it with sprinkles.
Tips & Notes:
- Don't forget to preheat your oven for that beautiful browned top part of the cake.
- Don't replace the oil with butter because the combination makes a much better cake. Oil makes this cake moister, lighter, and improves its shelf life.
- If you don't have sour cream, you can replace it with the same amount of Greek yogurt or buttermilk (learn How to Make Buttermilk). Also, see other substitutes.
- I haven't tried this recipe without any eggs, but you can check out this way on substituting eggs in recipes.
- Avoid overmixing your cake batter because that makes the cake dense. Mix the batter just long enough for the ingredients to be completely combined.
- Make sure your ingredients are all at room temperature to avoid over-mixing and over-baking. To do this, set out all the ingredients an hour before you begin.
- Cool the cake layers completely before you start assembling them. Even semi-warm cake layers cause the frosting to melt completely.
- If you have a deeper/bigger cake pan or even a bundt pan, you can make this just one cake.
- Refrigerate the cake after frosting for at least an hour to let the frosting set and the crumb tighten.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.