Best Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

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I’ve tried several white cake bases, and have found a few favorites. However, this vanilla cake recipe blows them all out of the water!! It’s delicious, moist, and best of all, it keeps its shape! The layers bake with smooth sides that are perfect for stacking and frosting. I now use this as my go to white cake base recipe, and color or flavor it as needed. I HIGHLY recommend it! Another perk is that it can be made in one bowl! That’s right, ONE BOWL!!! If you want to see a full tutorial on how I make the batter, click here.

The recipe is adapted from Kara’s Couture Cakes, and can be found below:

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 7” (for taller layers) or 8″ round pans.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8 inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7 inch cake pans (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling.

I also love to color my cake batter, and used this recipe to make this checkerboard cake. The layers turned out perfectly! Level, delicious, and perfect for stacking!!

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145 thoughts on “Best Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe”

  1. Hi chlesea!
    Could you use this recipe to make chocolate cake, and instead take out some flour and replace with cocao

  2. Hi Chelsey!

    Will this recipe work if I just cut everything in half? I think I just want to make a shorter two layer cake instead of the four layers because I know a lot of it would go to waste.

    Thanks in advance!

  3. Hi Chelsea! I never leave reviews but I just wanted to comment and say this is the first time I’ve made vanilla cake and frosting from scratch that I actually thought was better than boxed cake mix. I’ve been so discouraged because every recipe I’ve tried has resulted in a dense, dry and crumbly cake and I didn’t see the point of making cakes from scratch. Your recipe came out amazing, thanks!! I love your website and Facebook page!

  4. Hi Chelsea

    I have made Kara’s cake recipe and it was great except it came out a little more dense than I would like for a regular cake(not sculpted). What does adding buttermilk do to the recipe that’s different?

  5. Hi Chels! Would this recipe work well for a 4- tier cake? Just want to make sure it holds up with stacking multiple tiers! Thank you!

  6. Hi Chels…
    As I’ve told you before, I loveeee your work! I am looking for a cake recipe that I can use under fondant. Can I use this one?

    Thanks… Sheila

  7. First, I love your site, recipes, and videos! Thank you for the inspiration! Second, I understand freezing the layers before and during frosting/decorating. My question is how do you store your decorated cake before serving? I’d like to bake my layers 2 days before serving and decorate 1 day before serving. Thanks again!!

  8. Hi Chelsea! Just wondering if baking this recipe in 2 tins and for longer, would it still turn out? And then slicing them in half to get the four layers? Thanks! 🙂

  9. Made this for a semi-naked cake and got rave reviews! I was so excited to see how even/flat all the layers were when it was cut into. I’ve never had a cake look so uniform on the inside! Thanks 🙂 This will be my go-to vanilla cake recipe now.
    Also, I know you love your American buttercream but if you’re looking for something with less sugar this is amazing! It’s light and fluffy and I would never have guessed it until I tried it.
    http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/thate28099s-the-best-frosting-ie28099ve-ever-had/

  10. Would this recipe work for a sheet cake? I’m needing to make a 12 x 18 sheet cake and just wondering if I could use this but double or triple the original recipe.

  11. Do you place your cakes in the freezer or fridge once cooled on the backing rack before decorating. Watching your videos your cakes look like they barley have crumbs and recently the ones i have baked are almost falling apart and pure crumbs on the side with no “crust” and VERY hard to decorate. Also what kind of pans do you use?

    1. I do freeze my cake layers fully, and let them thaw for about 20 minutes before frosting. It
      makes it WAY easier to frost! Mine form a pretty solid crust on the sides, I use wilton and fat daddio’s pans!

  12. Hi Chelsweets! Greeting from Malaysia 🇲🇾 😁

    I have a few questions regarding this cake;
    1) would it be okay if at the end of the mixing process, the granulated sugar hasn’t been dissolved at all?
    2) i only have two 8″ pans at the moment. But i want to make a 4 coloured rainbow cake. Is it okay if i bake the first two colours and just let the remaining uncook batter aside during the baking?

    1. yes! The sugar doesn’t dissolve, but the batter should me smooth / fully mixed. Yes, you can bake the two layers first, and leave the batter out until you are able to bake it in the next batch!

  13. It’s the best vanilla cake recipe I have ever made – and I’ve done a lot. Can’t thank you enough! Used it for my daughter’s unicorn birthday cake and she loved it! Wish I could send you a picture. Thanks again for sharing!

  14. Hi, I made this cake the other day and absolutely loved it, best recipe I have used by far. Would it be possible to use this recipe for cupcakes or am I best to use your vanilla cupcake recipe??

    1. So happy to hear that! sadly what makes it a great cake recipe (baking flat) makes it a terrible cake recipe! I highly recommend using my classic vanilla cupcake recipe instead 🙂

  15. Hi, Chelsweets! I have a quick question, I can never get my batter even in my baking pans. I only bake using 6 x 3 size pans. Do you have any suggestions on how much batter i should use in a 6×3 pan OR 8 inch cake pans as I would like my cakes to be even .

    1. I usually just scoop that batter in the pans one spatula at a time! I add one scoop to each pan, then repeat until I have used all the batter! Doing that I usually end up with equal amounts of batter in my pans!

  16. Hi Chelsea
    I plan on making this tomorrow with 2 9 in rounds and a few cupcakes with the rest of the batter. I just bought a new box of cake flour I’d like to use. Do I need to adjust the amount or anything to do so? Also I maybe have a 1/3 cup of buttermilk left can I use soured milk for the rest the recipe calls for? hank you in advance so much!

    1. I’m not sure what soured milk is, but I’d recommend just using a bit of regular milk if you don’t have enough buttermilk! I’ve never made this recipe with cake flour. It will definitely change the texture of the cake though, and I’m not sure if it will turn out! I highly recommend just using regular flour!

      1. Thank you it’s currently in the oven. Soured milk is a version of homemade buttermilk. I use 1 TBSP vinegar/lemon to 1 cup of milk.
        Thank for the info.

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