Best Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

circus animal cake sliced

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.

NOTE: The thing that make this recipe an amazing layer cake recipe (baking flat), cause it to make terrible cupcakes! They stick to liner and don’t rise enough. If you want to make vanilla cupcakes, I highly recommend using my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe.

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose 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


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7” (for taller layers) or 8″ round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

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 into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, I sometimes like to trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife. While these layers bake pretty flat, sometimes I’ll also trim the top of the layers too if I’m working a super special partnership 🙂 Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

These layers can be made in advance, and can be stored in the freezer for up to 5 days! If you do plan to freeze them overnight, be sure to either place them in an airtight container, or wrap them tightly in saran wrap.

I also love to color my cake batter using Americolor gel food coloring (I order it on amazon), and used this recipe to make this checkerboard cake. The layers turned out perfectly! Level, delicious, and perfect for stacking!!

IMG_7391 (2)



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I work in finance during day, and like to think of myself as a baker by night! Follow me here at, on instagram @chelsweets, and on YouTube ( ) to see my creations :D

370 thoughts on “Best Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

  1. I’ve made this recipe using round cake pans! I’m making sheet cakes for a wedding! Do you think this recipe would yield a half sheet cake or full?

  2. Hi Chelsey, I am a huge fan of your cakes! Is there any way I can turn this cake into a marble cake?If so, what do you recommend for the cocoa powder measurements?
    Or do you recommend something completely different? Thank you so much!

  3. Hi chels !
    Love love love your videos !
    Everything I’ve learnt so far is from your tutorials !
    I just did this in 3 9 inch cake tins however they really didn’t rise much at all, did I need to double the batch or have I done something wrong in the mixing process ? It’s going to be the bottom tier of a two tier cake and I’m worried it won’t hold the weight of the top tier ?
    Thank you

  4. Hello Chelsweets, I would like to know how many whole eggs I can use and will it change the texture of the cake? Thanks for sharing your recipes!

  5. I love watching your videos! Will this recipe work for four 6″ x 2″ cake pans? I’m thinking I will have too much batter. I want to try this recipe, but these are the only pans I have.

    1. it does! It makes 6-8, 6-inch layers, depending on how tall you want them to be! I make them all the time 🙂 They only take about 30 minutes to bake!

  6. Hi! How do I upscale this recipe for a 12 inch tin? Also when doing a layer cake (naked one) do you recommend baking each layer individually or just slicing a whole cake up? Thanks! x

    1. I always bake my layers individually, which i think is best with this recipe! The area of a circle is pi x radius squared. If this recipe makes four 7 inch layers that are 1 inch thick, it’s volume is about 153.86 cubic inches. The volume of a 12 inch pan is 113 cubic inches. So based on how many layers you want to make, you can calculate how many batches you’ll need.

  7. 2 questions.
    Do i need to change anything for this for the cake since I’m at high altitude (4600 ft)?

    Also if i only have 2 cake pans and I’m doing 4 layers will the batter be ok sitting out while the first 2 bake and cool then do the next set? Or do i just need to go buy more cake pans?

    1. I’ve actually heard that this recipe works great at high altitude! Since this is a denser, buttermilk cake base, it is fine to sit out for a little bit. But I’d recommend baking the second batch as soon as possible!

  8. Hi, Can I make this recipe with 5 layers? Also, just to clarify, the pans are 8 x 1 inch? Not a higher pan? I need to serve about 35-40 people.


  9. Hi Chelsey! I love this recipe!! It works perfect every time!! I have to make a couple batches of cupcakes and I’d like to use this recipe. Will it work ok?
    Thank you!!

    1. That’s so great to hear! As great of a cake recipe as this is, it makes terrible cupcakes! They stick to the liners and bake so flat! I’d recommend trying my classic vanilla cupcake recipe instead, it makes great cupcakes!

      1. Thank you!! I was doing a little more research and found that recipe!! Perfect!! You are a joy to watch and learn from!! Because of you I had a very successful experience making my daughter’s birthday unicorn cake!!🎉

  10. I love this cake recipe for vanilla layers! If I wanted to make an almond cake, could I just replace some of the vanilla extract with almond extract?

    1. It can definitely be baked in advance, but I wouldn’t recommend letting the batter sit for long! You can bake and freeze the layers, up to a week in advance! Just be sure to wrap them really well with saran wrap, or place them in an airtight container.

  11. Hi Chelsey!

    I am making a two tiered naked cake with this recipe- i saw on your naked cake YouTube video that this was the best because of the carmelized sides!

    If i plan to make 8” and 6” tiers how much of this recipe should i make?

    Thank you!

    1. I would recommend making 1.5 or 2 batches, depending on how thick of layers you’re after! 1.5 batches will make thinner layers, with 2 batches you’d have layers that are 1 inch tall after being leveled 🙂

  12. I’m wanting to use this for my son’s birthday cake next week. There are a lot of people so i want to do 4 layers but use 9 inch pans. How much more batter will i need?

  13. Hi Chelsey.
    I’ve made this recipe several times now. Your right the taste is amazing but each time I make it I have problems. Mostly that the cakes sink in the middle before their time is up.
    The oven door never opens so I don’t know what makes them do this. All I can think is that due to the tins being 3” deep (plus I line them a bit higher) is that there is too much batter in the tin? I fill to around an inch from the top rim.

    I always bake 2 tins whatever the diameter. So for instance today I made this recipe x 4. This was heck of a lot of eggs and other ingredients.
    I filled 2 x 10inch pans and 3 x 6inch pans…it’s to be part of a 4 tier wedding cake.
    Even if there is a 2” deep pan, I line it and fill it the same as I would a 3” pan.
    It doesn’t matter if I make the batter for 7” or 8” pans either. They all sink in the middle. Creating a heck of a lot of waste when I torte them.
    I’ve tried knocking down the temp to 160c fan assisted and extended the bake time. (For example today’s bake took over two hours). Is this recipe only good for shallow baked?

    1. they definitely need to be baked longer if they’re sinking in the middle! I only ever bake single layers, no thicker than an inch once baked! I don’t torte my layers, I’m not sure this is the best recipe for torting!

  14. Hi Chelsey!

    I love all your videos and tutorial!! Super helpful and they gives me great inspiration for my decorating!

    I’m planning on trying this recipe for my birthday cake this weekend! Will it still work well if I use regular milk instead of buttermilk? And before icing your cakes, do you soak them in a simple syrup first?

    Thank you!

    1. Yes, it will! it will be a bit drier than if you use buttermilk though! I don’t use simple syrup with this recipe normally, since it’s already pretty moist! however, if you do plan to use milk, adding a bit of simple syrup might be a good idea since it will be a bit drier. Happy baking!

    1. no, it makes terrible cupcakes! they stick to the liners and don’t really rise. I’d recommend using my go to vanilla cupcake recipe, which is amazing!

  15. Thank you for your response Chelsey. I love that even after all this time you still take the time to answer everyone’s questions and comments. So thank you very for that. It’s reallg appreciated.

    And yes I think you’re right about this recipe being not so good for deep pans. I’m going to try doing shallower bakes and see where that gets me because I can’t go on with the problems a deep bake gives me. Sinking in the middle before they’ve even reached the extended time limit Plus the time it takes to bake deep pans is sooo long (over two hours for 2×10” pans).
    The only problem is now I need two more sets of every span size in both square and round if it’s no good for torting ! (I like to have deep 6” tiers with at least 4 layers Gah 😱)

  16. Hey! Is there anyway I can use this recipe and turn it into a yellow cake ? If not do you have any good yellow cake recipes ?

    1. sadly I don’t! I’m not really a big yellow cake recipe fan , so I haven’t made many!! I’ve never tried to alter this recipe for that, so I’m not sure how it would turn out with egg yolks…but I think it would be rather dense, since it’s already pretty heavy with just egg whites!

      1. Thanks so much ! I’m not a fan either but it’s for a customer. I just used box yellow cake added milk butter vanilla and an extra egg instead of the box directions.

    1. This recipe should not be used to make cupcakes! It bakes very flat, which makes great cake layers but not the best cupcakes. they also stick to the liners. I’d recommend using my vanilla cupcake recipe!! It makes amazing cupcakes 🙂

  17. Hi! Can I make 3-8″ layers your vanilla cake? Also, embarrassed to ask but you do take the layers out of the pan before freezing them in the cooling process? Thank you!

    1. Yes you can!! That’s actually a great question. Most people do remove the layers from the pans, then wrap and freeze them. Some times I do just throw the whole pan in the freezer (after running an offset spatula around the sides to loosen the layer from the pan)! I let the layers cool completed, then bang the pans lightly (upside-down) on my counter, until the layers pop out! but you can do either, whatever you prefer!

  18. I made the cake using 5 whole eggs like you mentioned in a Previous comment. It was probably the best vanilla cake I’ve ever made other than the fact it was dense like a pound cake. I still loved it! Then I made it by the recipe using only egg whites and it came out a completely different cake. I felt like the oil gave it an odd aftertaste and in your vanilla cupcake recipe as well. What is the purpose of the oil?

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