This is a rich, buttery, easy vanilla cake and it’s a great starting point for loads of flavours of fillings and frostings.
How to make this easy vanilla cake
As with almost any baking recipe, take your ingredients out of the fridge a few hours before you start so that they come to room temperature. This will allow them to combine better and give you the best results!
In a mixer with a beater or paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together using medium speed for about two minutes. They should become pale and look "fluffier" or creamier. Use a spatula to scrape down to the bottom of the bowl once during mixing to make sure no butter or sugar is stuck at the bottom.
Now add the eggs one at a time. Mix on the lowest speed after adding each egg for about 30 seconds until everything is incorporated.
Using real vanilla extract instead of artificial vanilla essence will give you the richest tasting cake. Mix the vanilla into the batter for about 30 seconds.
In a small bowl or measuring jug, mix buttermilk and oil. If you don't have buttermilk, try this substitution: use milk instead of buttermilk but after measuring it, remove one tablespoon of milk and add one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Leave the milk for 5 minutes to curdle.
Add half of the buttermilk and oil mixture to the butter mixture and mix on lowest speed to incorporate.
Sift the dry ingredients together: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. By whisking them together to combine them, the rising agents will spread evenly throughout your cakes.
Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on lowest speed to incorporate. Scrape down to the bottom of the mixing bowl to check that the batter is evenly mixed. Over-mixing the batter will make the cake dense and tough. Stop mixing as soon as the ingredients are combined to make a moist vanilla cake. Add the remaining buttermilk and oil mixture, mix together, and then add the remaining flour mixture. This easy vanilla cake batter is quite thick, which makes it easy to spoon into cake pans next.
How to bake this easy vanilla cake
Grease the inside base and sides of three 8" cake pans with butter or non-stick oil spray. Divide the cake batter between the pans. Use a spatula to spread the batter so that it's level and tap the pans on the counter a few times to knock out any air bubbles.
Bake the cake layers at 160ºC or 325ºF for 38 minutes. To check that they're baked you can shake the pans and the middle shouldn't wiggle. You can also poke a toothpick into the middle of the cake to check it comes out clean.
Leave the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then slide a spatula around the edges to loosen them from the pans. Turn the cakes oven onto a wire cooling rack and leave them to cool completely, which will take about three hours.
You’ll notice a golden caramelized exterior on the cakes after baking, which seals the cake’s moistness.
How to fill and frost this easy vanilla cake
Once the cakes have cooled completely, assemble and frost your cake! I love filling and frosting this cake with my 4 Minute Buttercream but it pairs well with SO many flavours: strawberry, lemon, caramel, chocolate...
If you struggle to frost your cakes smoothly check out my Basics of Cake online course, where I teach every step of the cake-making process. You'll learn how to mix, bake, make fillings and frostings, level and divide cake layers, assemble, frost, decorate, store, transport and serve cakes!
Here's the printable, Pinnable recipe. Switch between ingredient measurements using cups or grams to use whichever you prefer. I usually measure my ingredients out in cups rather than weighing them. This recipe is flexible enough that any minor differences in quantities won't affect the end result.
This is a rich, buttery cake and it’s a great starting point for loads of flavours of fillings and frostings.
2cups unsalted butter
2 2/3cups white sugar (granulated sugar)
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4cup vegetable oil
5cups plain flour (all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Using a mixer with a beater/paddle attachment (not a whisk), beat room temperature butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down to the bottom of the bowl once during mixing to make sure no butter or sugar is stuck at the bottom.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing on the lowest speed after each addition for 30 seconds. Scrape down to the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated before adding the next egg.
Add vanilla and mix for about 30 seconds to combine.
In a small bowl or measuring jug, mix room temperature buttermilk and oil. Add half to the butter mixture and mix on lowest speed to incorporate.
In a bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on lowest speed to incorporate, scraping down to the bottom of the mixing bowl to check that batter is evenly mixed. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk mixture and then finish with the remaining flour mixture.
Grease three 8" baking pans with non-stick oil spray or butter. Divide batter equally between the cake pans.
Bake at 160ºC or 325ºF for 38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Leave cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to loosen the cakes from the edges of the pans and then turn onto a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool completely.
You can use salted instead of unsalted butter but if you do, omit the salt.
This recipe works best with plain flour, also called all-purpose flour.
Hi, can you tell me if vegan buttermilk works for this recipe. Thanks so much!!😊
I haven't tried it but I imagine it will, if you use the same quantity. Please tell me how it turns out!
Delicious cake with fantastic instructions! Even I was able to follow it and it turned out perfectly! The Buttermilk definitely puts this recipe above a lot of others. So rich but not overly sweet
I'm so happy you liked it! Thanks for your lovely comment!
Hi,is there a variation chart for your vanilla cake? I would like to bake 10 inch cake
Hi! No, I don't have them on here at the moment but I teach them in my Basics of Cake MasterCourse 🙂
HI Emily you say 8" how many tins are you using for this recipe
Been searching for perfect vanilla cake and i guess here it is.I will give it a try and leave a review soon :).Thanks so much Emily!
Yay! Can't wait for you to try it!
What size baking pans are used for this recipe?
Love this recipe hope to make it soon
For Funfetti, can I simply add the sprinkles to this recipe? Also, would this recipe convert to one 1/4 sheet cake pan?
Yes! Just pour the sprinkles in at the very end. You can use the 6" or 8" batter for a quarter sheet cake, depending on how tall you want it to be 🙂
Thanks so much for this na. Please how’s the sweetness? I’m making this for a 70+ year old woman. I don’t know if this can work for her
It's not a very sweet cake - the sweetness can come from the fillings of frosting you use, so if you choose something that isn't very sweet then this would be perfect for her!
I’ve used this recipe twice in the last couple weeks. It’s turned out yummy and moist and have had many compliments on it.
Thank you for this recipe Emily.
I’ll also be using it to make the 3D rainbow cake for my 5 year old granddaughters birthday.
I’m excited to make that cake from your tutorial.
I'm so happy you love it! And good luck with the rainbow cake!
Hello Emily, with the Buttermilk substitution, you say to use half the oil, do add the rest of the oil to the batter after?
Hi! You mix the buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute) with the oil and add half of that mixture to the batter, then half of the flour mixture, then the other half of the buttermilk and oil mixture, and then the other half of the flour mixture. Hope that makes sense!
Roughly how much do your eggs weigh?
You use granulated sugar instead of caster sugar, wont it be gritty?
I use large eggs and they weight about 55 grams. And yes, you can use caster sugar if you prefer! If you use room temperature butter and cream the butter and sugar together until it's light and fluffy you won't have any problems with graininess.
Hi! How thick are the 3 8" cakes does this recipe make? If I use 6" pans, how many pans will I divide the recipe into?
I would divide the recipe in half to make a 6 inch version of this cake 🙂
I’m hoping to make this for my mother in laws birthday at the weekend (also using all of your decorating advice!) but I only have 7 inch tins and am intending to make 4 layers. Would I adjust the recipe at all please?
I was also a bit confused as the photos show 4 layers but the recipe says it’s for 3 layers? 😊
Hi! You can use four pans for thinner layers, which I did for the cake in the photos - good catch! And 7 inch tins will be fine but will bake a bit quicker than the recipe says, especially since you’re using less batter by using 4 tins. I would probably check them 5 or 10 minutes early. I hope your mother in law loves the cake!
If I need to make 3 9in cakes how should I go about the recipe? Should I double? Thanks so much! Looking forward to making this for a baby shower😁
It depends how tall you want the cake to be. If you use 9" pans instead of 8" the cake won't be quite as tall but it will still be a decent height
I love this recipe, was so yummy my family loved it too. Can I reduce the amount of sugar?
I did reduce the sugar slightly when adapting this recipe for my Marble Cake and the cake baked well but it did change the flavour. If you try it, please tell me how you like it!
Can you use this recipe for cupcakes?
Yes! You can scale it up and down and for each egg in the recipe you'll get 7 cupcakes 🙂
Sorry - typo! 6 cupcakes!
I have finally found the perfect place for all things baking! I recently discovered your YouTube channel and it has honestly made my cakes look so professional, just wanted to say a huge thank you! I always come back here for my recipes now and to look for tips and tricks ☺️
What an amazing comment! Thank you!!
Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose since cake flour makes cake more tender and fluffy? You can also developed less gluten too.
Hi Emily, I’ve used many online recipes and I have to say your is the best by far. Thanks you so much for sharing all your wonderful hacks and tips. I’ve always enjoyed baking cakes for my kids but never understood the techniques of decorating until you showed up! So very grateful 🙏🏻
I just have a question, could I use this exact recipe to bake 4x in 6” pans? Just wondered if they would be too dense to get cooked thoroughly… thank you for taking the time to answer x
Omg, this cake is so moist and tasty! I'm so glad I found this recipe, thank you so much for sharing it with us! I made it with your 4 minute butter cream. Mmmm, so good!
Can you tell me if this recipe is ok to freeze, if so for how long
Thanks so much, 😄
Yes! I freeze these layers for up to two months, wrapped in two layers of plastic (saran wrap/cling film)
Hi Emily, your recipe is just amazing. I’ve used it for all family celebration cakes and everyone absolutely loves it. Thank you for sharing this recipe and for all your useful tips 😁🙏🏻
I’m so glad!!