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Small Batch Vanilla Cake Recipe: 6 Inch Cake

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??

One batch of batter makes a layer cake large enough to feed about 24 people. You can use it to make three, 8 inch cake layers. It can also be used to make four, 7 inch cake layers.

Stacked vanilla cake layers - this recipe is to die for, and can be made in one bowl!!

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.

small batch vanilla cake recipe

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!

beautifully painted blue floral cake, made with 6 inch vanilla cake layers

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:

Yield: 16

Small Batch Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

Small Batch Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

This vanilla layer cake recipe makes the perfect six inch layer cake! It makes three, moist cake layers that are perfect for stacking.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Vanilla 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
  • 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)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (4 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
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (30 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (12 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)

Instructions

Vanilla Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 6 inch pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Mix together 2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer to mix on a low speed until combined.
  3. Mix in 2/3 cup (1 & 1/3 stick) unsalted butter slowly into the dry mix, on a medium-low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
  4. Pour in 2/3 cup or about 5 egg whites and mix on low until just incorporated and the batter looks wet.
  5. Mix in 1 cup of buttermilk on a low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  6. Add in 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix at a medium-low speed until fully incorporated.
  7. If desired, add in gel food coloring and stir by hand with a rubber spatula until the batter is evenly colored.
  8. 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.
  9. Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers right before you plan to assemble your cake.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the vanilla buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 2 cups of unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Slowly mix in 7 cups of powdered sugar on a low speed, 1 cup at a time. Halfway through, add in 2 Tbsp of heavy cream or milk to make it easier to mix.
  4. Scrape the sides and bottom of of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  5. Once the frosting is fully mixed and smooth, add in 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix on the lowest speed for a couple minutes to help make the frosting silky smooth.
  6. If the frosting seems 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're unsure how thick your frosting should be, you can learn what consistency you're looking for in my frosting consistency post.
  7. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Spread an even layer of buttercream between each cake layer with a large offset spatula.
  3. Add a thin coat of frosting around the the cake to fully cover the cake layers.
  4. 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.
  5. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper. Then decorate as desired!

Notes

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.

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 621Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 20gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 84mgSodium 243mgCarbohydrates 83gFiber 0gSugar 81gProtein 2g
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Olivia

Monday 12th of April 2021

Hi, How many cups of frosting do I need to frost a cake of this size? Thanks!

Akshita

Tuesday 6th of April 2021

Hi .. your post is extremely helpful for me.. but I was wondering if Yu have a vanilla cake recipe without eggs ? Thanks a tonne in advance :)

Rally

Saturday 3rd of April 2021

can I make the cake in one pan instead of three??

Christine

Wednesday 24th of March 2021

This recipe has been my go to, ever since I found it. I’ve always been a chocolate only girl until I found your recipe. This is absolutely delicious!

That being said, I’m planning on making a two tier cake. 10” and 8”. I’ll use your regular vanilla cake recipe for 8” but do you think doubling this 16 serving recipe will work for 10” tier?

Carolyn Wilson

Sunday 14th of March 2021

I have tried so many vanilla cake recipes over the years and have not found a good one..... until today. Why? Why didn’t I just try yours? It would’ve saved so many disasters. I’ve followed you for a long time but haven’t tried this recipe. I’ve only tasted the parts I trimmed off to even out my layers but man it was soooo good, moist and delicious vanilla flavor! Thank you so much for always inspiring me!