I’ve share my very favorite vanilla cake recipe, which has received rave reviews. It’s an amazing recipe, but makes a pretty big cake. What if you wanted to make a 6 inch cake??
This is all great and dandy if you’re making a cake for a party, or a big group of people. But sometimes you don’t need to make that big of a cake. You might just want to make a cute little six-inch layer cake.
Maybe you simply don’t need to feed that many people. Or maybe you want to make a smaller cake to create a certain look.
More often, people don’t have bigger pans. A lot of people start off with 6 inch cake pans, which may be the only size they have on hand. If that’s you, then today is your lucky day.
How Many Cake Layers Does This Recipe Make?
This small batch of my vanilla layer cake recipe bakes three, perfect little 6 inch cake layers. It may seem like you’re filling your pans pretty full, but this batter doesn’t rise much as it bakes.
That’s part of what makes my vanilla cake recipe so great though. It bakes flat, so leveling your cake layers is optional. With that in mind, you should end up with cake layers that are just a bit taller than 1 inch.
What Does Small Batch Mean?
In this case, it just means I’ve updated the amount of ingredients you use to make this batter, to make a smaller cake.
Initially I thought I could just cut the recipe in half, and make three cake layers. You can do this, but the cake layers turn out quite a bit thinner than I’m used to.
I wanted each cake layer to be at least an inch tall, so I knew I’d have to play around the with ratios.
In the end, it turned out that making 2/3 of a batch is the ideal amount of batter for 6 inch cake layers.
I used this small vanilla cake recipe to make my hand painted floral cake. I wanted to create this design on a smaller cake, because I needed a smaller surface area.
It takes hours to layer the “paint” (a mixture of gel food coloring and vodka) on a cake like this, and I didn’t want to spend days painting a larger cake. I was so happy with how the cake turned out, and with its size!
Tips for Making This Small Batch Vanilla Cake Recipe:
- Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake, to make it easier to stack and frost.
- Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated; this will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy
- Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients
- Use a serrated knife to level your cake layers once they’re fully cooled, to make it easier to assemble and frost your cake
- I do NOT recommend using this recipe to make cupcakes! Instead, I highly recommend trying my vanilla cupcake recipe (I like the texture better for cupcakes)
- Use my regular vanilla cake recipe to make a 7-inch or 8-inch layer cake
Making These Cake Layers in Advance and Storage Tips:
- Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
- Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
- A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
- If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Let Me Know What You Think!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this cake recipe! Do you like to make smaller cakes like this?
Nothing makes me happier than when I get emails or DMs with photos of your amazing cakes. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your triumphs, or questions <3
If you try this small batch vanilla cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets. Also use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations!
Other Recipes You Might Like:
- Classic Vanilla Layer Cake
- Small Batch Chocolate Cake Recipe (6-inch)
- Small Funfetti Cake Recipe (6-inch)
- Red Velvet Layer Cake
- WASC (White Wedding Cake) Cake Recipe
- Chocolate Blackout Cake
- Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake
- 2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (276 grams)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
- 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (150 grams) - 1 and 1/3 sticks
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (4 grams)
- 2/3 cup egg whites (or about 5 egg whites) (155 grams)
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (228 grams)
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (14 grams)
- gel food coloring (if desired)
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (434 grams)
- 7 cups powdered sugar (907 grams) - or a 2 lb bag
- 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (30 grams)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (12 grams)
Vanilla Cake Layers:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 6 inch pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick baking spray.
- Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer 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 extract 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.
- If desired, add in gel food coloring. Mix the batter on a low speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl part way through. Mix until the batter is evenly colored.
- Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. I like to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh my pans, and ensure they all have the same amount of batter. This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
- Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.
- Place cake layers into the freezer for 30 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers.
- Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers, and then frost as desired.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
- While the cake layers bake and cool, make the vanilla buttercream frosting.
- Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
- Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
- If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
- If you plan to color the buttercream, add in the gel food coloring once the frosting is fully made, and beat on low until it reaches the desired color
To Assemble The Cake:
- Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
- Spread an even layer of buttercream between each cake layer with a large offset spatula.
- Add a thin coat of frosting around the the cake, to fully cover the cake layers.
- Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
- Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper. Then decorate as desired!
Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Amount Per Serving Calories 621Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 20gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 84mgSodium 243mgCarbohydrates 83gFiber 0gSugar 81gProtein 2g