A light, fluffy and delicious frosted vanilla cake with sprinkles – perfect for a birthday or any celebration!
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned baker, everyone needs a classic go to vanilla cake recipe for birthdays, special occasions or anytime you have that vanilla cake craving. I know that when I started baking, that was the very first recipe I wanted to try to tackle.
Over the years I’ve tried a lot of recipes claiming to be the best or perfect vanilla cakes and today I am sharing my very favorite vanilla cake that I turn to whenever I need a no-fail recipe.
It’s light and moist and at the same time fluffy and soft. The key is to divide the cold butter into small even pieces — sift together all the dry ingredients (at least twice) — and ensure the milk and eggs are at room temperature beforehand.
I also find that using using quality brands and weighing the ingredients results in a fluffier and better tasting cake every time. If you don’t have a food scale, you can use the measurements I listed but I highly recommend one for that perfect fluffy texture. Also, be careful not to over mix or overbake the cake or it will dry out – every oven is different so know your oven and start watching the cake at 20 minutes and check on it every two minutes afterwards.
This recipe is tested specifically for a 6 inch three layer cake. If you want to bake this into an 8 inch two layer cake, please increase the baking time to around 28-30 minutes and increase the frosting amount per layer.
This delightful cake goes perfectly with the dreamy vanilla bean frosting. Although my heart belongs to Swiss meringue buttercream, I have to say that this is my go-to frosting I use whenever I’m bringing a cake to a kid’s birthday party or if I’m in a pinch.
It’s smooth, creamy and fluffy for piping swirls onto cakes and cupcakes and kind of reminds me of a bakery-style frosting with its rich and bold vanilla flavor you get from the vanilla bean.
So whether you choose to cover the cake with a smooth layer of frosting — pipe on pretty roses — or cover it with oodles and oodles of sprinkles for a baby girl’s first birthday — it’s a delicious classic that I hope will put a smile on everyone’s face that tries it 🙂
- 3 cups cake flour sifted (345 g)
- 2 cups granulated sugar 400 g
- 4 teaspoons baking powder 17 g
- 1/2 teaspoon salt 2.5 g
- 5 large egg whites at room temperature (150 g)
- 1 whole egg at room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk or full fat buttermilk at room temperature 237 ml
- 2-1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 12 ml
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter cold and cut into 24 even pieces (170 g)
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 3 - 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean or add 1 more teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
- pinch salt
- rainbow sprinkles I used about 1 cup of rainbow jimmies
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease three 6-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray (I use Baker's Joy) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and whisk together the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla extract. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed for 1 minute.
Add the cold butter one piece at a time, about every 10 seconds. (I like to keep some in the refrigerator while I'm adding pieces to ensure that the butter stays cold) until all the pieces are added.
- Continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add 3/4 cup milk, and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl down.
- Begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches making sure to scrape the sides and bottom before and after each batch, mixing until light, fluffy, homogenous and well incorporated. Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at bottom of the bowl is incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center, about 25-30 minutes. Be very careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and then set the timer for 2-minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
- Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter until light and creamy for about 7-8 minutes on medium speed.
- Add the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds and salt and mix until combined. Slowly add in the confectioners' sugar one cup at a time and mix on low speed for about a minute and then on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency reached. Whip on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes. The frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy and is best used right away.
- Place the bottom cake layer on a cake plate. Serrate or cut off the top of the cake with a sharp knife if needed for an even layer. Spread 1/4 - 1/3 cup of frosting on top with a small offset spatula. Gently place 2nd cake layer face down on top. Place another 1/4 - 1/3 cup of frosting on top. Gently add the 3rd cake layer. Add a generous scoop of frosting and spread evenly with a small offset spatula working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from refrigerator and apply a final “coat” of frosting. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
Barely adapted from The Cake Bible
*Be careful not to overbake since every oven is different. Know your oven.
*This recipe is written for a 6" three layer cake - please make sure to increase the baking time to around 28-30 minutes and amount of frosting per layer if you are making this into an 8" two layer cake.
P.S.❤ Thanks to all of you for your sweet birthday wishes for my daughter. We had a great day and she got to try her first taste of cake 🙂 ❤ If you need me, I’ll be cleaning up the oodles of sprinkles that didn’t make it onto the cake and are still hiding around in the kitchen.