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

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 7 large egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 7” 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 high for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, 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 this neon cake was made using this recipe. The layers turned out perfectly! Level, delicious, and perfect for stacking!!

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88 thoughts on “Best Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

      • So, I ended up making 1.5x the recipe but it was too much. It didn’t even come close to fitting in the mixing bowl so i had to split it into 2 batches at the last minute, which was a pain but luckily worked out fine. And then the cake was way too tall so I had to trim the layers anyway lol. Next time I’ll definitely stick to the recipe without increasing it at all! The biggest problem was that it was so good and my boyfriend and I couldn’t stop eating all of the cake i had to trim off….

  1. Hi Chels! First off I absolutely LOVE all your videos on YouTube and Instagram, I literally check it daily lol. I love to bake cakes for friends and family and I get so many cool ideas! But I was wondering how did you color the cakes, I mean I know to add the food coloring to it. But I was told to pour the batter immediately and start baking or else it will turn clumpy and not bake correctly. So did you mix the coloring while it was in the baking pan, or you put it aside? Just curious….thank you!

    • You’re too sweet 🙂 I color my cake batter by dividing it into individual bowls, then coloring with gel food coloring (I use americolor). I have never had any problems with clumping or it incorrectly baking! I have even refrigerated colored batter, then baked the following day and had no issues. However, I usually bake the batter right after coloring. Hope that helps 🙂

  2. I just found you on youtube, and I love your stuff! I want to make this cake and was wondering something…I’ve always heard to use cake flour for best results. Does it matter in this recipe? Would plain all-purpose flour be ok? Thanks!

    • Cake flour does result in a tender cake with a very light texture, but all-purpose flour cakes can also turn out great if you use the right recipes! They also stand up better to thick, american buttercream, which is my frosting of choice. I always use all-purpose flour 🙂

  3. Do you frost your cakes the same day you bake, or do you do it the next day? My same day cakes seem to fall apart when I frost (too fresh?)

  4. Hi. How many layers is this recipe for? How do you adjust it for larger layers?
    Thanks much. Enjoyed your winter wonderland cake video.

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  8. First off, let me say that I never, ever leave reviews. But after trying this cake I just HAD to. I’ve been looking for a go-to vanilla cake recipe for years and I was hesitant to try this because of the 7″ pans and all the egg whites. Silly, right? Well I made this recipe last night and had the cake today…10/10 recommend!!! Hands down the BEST vanilla cake I’ve ever had. I made a three layer 8″ and also a three layer 10″ cake (I did 1.5 recipes for the 10″) and it came out perfectly for both! I made the cake for two different wedding showers and everyone RAVED about them! I love how moist and smooth (weird adjective for a cake) the texture is. And the flavor is perfect. I was and am still blown away! Thank you for this recipe!!!

  9. Hi again! Just a quick question- I’m making a neapolitan cake and wanted to use this cake recipe but I’m looking for a strawberry taste for just one of the layers; could I divide the batter and substitute in a few teaspoons of strawberry extract in for vanilla to get that flavor? Or do you recommend finding a completely different cake recipe for a strawberry layer? Thanks!!

  10. Hi! Love your videos! I’m from Kyrgyzstan and I don’t understand what “a cup” means. How much gr is in one cup. Can you please write in grams how much flour, sugar and butter do I need for this recipe. Thank you.

  11. Hey Chelsea, does your quantity for your recipe for American buttercream recipe is enough to frost a layered cake and then do rosettes to cover it? Or should I double the recipe? Thanks!

  12. Hey Chelsea, have you had success with halving this recipe for only 2x 8inch cake layers? Making a four layer cake this weekend, but they want two flavors (vanilla and strawberry), so I am plan on separating each of the two layers with a cake board for two different choices of cake flavor in one cake.

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    • Unfortunately the only cake batter itself that I’ve flavored strawberry involved strawberry jello! I wasn’t a huge fan, so I didn’t share it. A good strawberry cake is on my to-do list this summer one berries are back in season!

      • I was going to ask the same question. I’ve made strawberry cake quite a few times and I blend down strawberries into puree and one recipe said to add a packet of strawberry jello which I didn’t care for either, so I used strawberry pudding mix and liked that much better. If I use your vanilla cake recipe (which I LOVED), where should I substitute the purée in?

  14. Have you tried a recipe for a lemon cake? I haven’t tried your Vanilla yet but plan to this weekend! From all the rave reviews I’m sure it will be amazing!

  15. I just made this cake in three 9 inch rounds and it was perfection😋😁btw I have never made a 3 layer cake I usually do cupcakes. Wish I could post a pic of it

  16. Hi!
    I was wondering how long you let your frozen cake layers thaw before frosting them? And if they are still cold, once they are frosted, do water droplets “sweat” ever form on the frosting or crumb coat?

    • I usually let them sit for about 20 minutes. The frosting is at room temperature, so once I”m done frosting the cake is slightly chilled, but not cold enough to sweat. hope that helps!

  17. I found this cake slightly heavy and dense. Is that normal or is there a way to make it lighter while keeping it level. Everyone loved this recipe!!

    • It is more dense than a sponge cake! You can try to mix the batter on high at the end, to incorporate more air into it! This can help make it slightly less dense. Hope that helps!

    • My pans are usually 2 inches tall, and usually 7 or 8 inches in daimeter. I think they would probably fit in your pans but i’m not 100% sure! I’d just be sure not to fill them too full! and I’d make at least 4 layers, if not 6!

    • I used it to make two rectangular sheet cakes that were about 10×14 inches. So I think it would work for 12×15, but it would make a super thick layer! Maybe don’t use all the batter if it looks like it’ll be too thick! I usually fill my pans about 1 inch high. Hope that helps!

      • Great!. Thank you!.
        Also what brand of butter do you use in your buttercream to get it white?

  18. Hi Chelsea, I was wondering if I can replace egg with milk in this recipe? If not, then what would you suggest to be a good substitute for eggs?

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  22. Hi Chelsey, I’m actually making my wedding cake and would LOVE to try this recipe. I was just a little nervous about doing the different layers since they are bigger than the 7 or 8 inch rounds. I think we are going to do 12 10 and 8 inch rounds. Would I need to increase the batter by just half or how would you suggest doing this??

  23. I am looking to make a birthday cake for my friend this weekend. She is wanting a lemon cake with a chiffon/berry filling. Have you made this as a lemon cake before? Also are you familiar with Ermine frosting?

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