Vanilla Cake – The Perfect Base For Fillings and Frostings

Vanilla cake is the perfect base for so many fillings and frostings. This recipe is easy to make, with a soft, cloud-like crumb and a subtle vanilla flavor.


Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature, this helps them mix more easily and prevents gluten from overdeveloping for a smoother batter. It also allows them to bake evenly.


Vanilla cakes typically contain vanilla extract or paste, but they can also include other ingredients. This includes things like spices, fruit jams, and even grated carrots or cinnamon. Some people also add a bit of cocoa powder and red food coloring to make a chocolate cake, while others use spiced cake mix for a carrot cake. However, the most common vanilla cake is simply white or yellow cake that’s been topped with vanilla frosting.

When making a homemade vanilla cake, be sure to use the right ingredients. For example, using all-purpose flour can cause the cake to be dense and dry, so it’s important to use cake flour. This flour is bleached for a pure white color and has a lower protein content than all-purpose, which reduces the amount of gluten that forms inside the batter. It also has a higher starch content, which helps the cake to rise and stay moist.

Another key ingredient is butter. By using lots of butter, you can ensure that your cake is rich and flavorful. It’s also important to beat the butter and sugar together well so that they’re light and fluffy. This is known as the reverse creaming method, and it’s an essential step for a light and fluffy vanilla cake.

To keep your vanilla cake looking and tasting its best, make sure to store it properly. If possible, keep it in an airtight container and refrigerate it. To serve, remove the cake from the refrigerator to room temperature before frosting and decorating.


Vanilla cakes tend to be very moist, which allows them to hold their frosting beautifully and makes for a tender crumb. The butter, oil, and sugar give this cake a light texture that’s airy but substantial enough for the richness of frosting. The addition of the eggs helps the batter to stay emulsified, which keeps it from becoming dry and dense. Finally, the use of high quality vanilla extract (we recommend Rodelle) adds a great flavor that compliments buttercreams and other frosting flavors nicely.

The key to a moist vanilla cake is to not over mix the batter. This is one of the most common causes of dry, dense cakes. Instead, beat the ingredients until they are just combined, and only mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt when the batter is smooth. Also, bake the cake at a low temperature to prevent the cake from overbaking and losing moisture.

When you want to make a fun twist on your classic vanilla cake, consider adding some toasted nuts on top or in between the layers of your cake. You can also use a liqueur like framboise in the whipped cream topping, or something more earthy and spicy like nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger. You can even make a nut brittle and grind it in the food processor, then sprinkle it on top or in between the layers of your vanilla cake for some added crunch.


A simple vanilla cake is the perfect blank canvas for all kinds of fillings and frostings. You can go with a classic vanilla buttercream, try one of our chocolate frosting recipes, or experiment with other flavors like cream cheese and sour cream.

A key to making a good vanilla cake is the quality of the ingredients. Choose high-quality butter and sugar to ensure your cake turns out moist and fluffy. It’s also important to use the right amount of leavening so your cake rises and bakes properly. Baking powder is preferred over baking soda for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite brand. And don’t skip on the salt — it carries flavor, and helps to keep the cake light and tender.

When creaming the butter and sugar, take your time to make sure they are really light and fluffy. This is one of the most common mistakes that leads to dry, dense cakes. And be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl periodically to bring any clumps back into the batter.

Lastly, a little bit of vegetable oil helps to keep the cake extra moist and soft. You can substitute with another type of oil, such as olive or avocado, if you prefer.


The versatility of vanilla cake makes it an ideal canvas for many different toppings. The light sweetness of the batter and frosting allow for a variety of textures to complement the soft crumb, from the crunchy of granulated sugar to the creamy texture of whipped cream.

Drizzling a rich chocolate ganache over vanilla cake adds a decadent element that satisfies both chocolate and vanilla lovers. Cocoa powder can also be incorporated into the batter, adding subtle notes of chocolate flavor without overpowering the vanilla. A sprinkling of lavender introduces a unique floral aroma to the dessert, and a hint of honey brings a delicate sweetness that balances the flavor profiles of the cake.

Adding fruit to vanilla cakes is an easy way to elevate the presentation while maintaining a light, airy dessert. Strawberries pair perfectly with the soft sweetness of vanilla, and raspberries offer a refreshing contrast to the vanilla’s creamy texture. A touch of lemon zest or a light lemon glaze refreshes the palate and brings a fresh dimension to the cake.

For a twist on classic vanilla, try using a combination of pure extract and paste, or the scrapings of a vanilla bean. While a bit more time-consuming, adding a scraping of the beans provides deeper flavor and richer color to the cake batter. Similarly, a touch of lemon juice (again, forgoing the acidity that would alter the chemistry of the recipe) can be used in place of the vinegar in this recipe.