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.