New This Month

Versatile Vanilla Cake


Skip the store-bought cake mix and impress guests with a vanilla-flavored cake recipe that's easier than it looks. Top off this cake with our Whipped Frosting. For variations on this cake, see our Chocolate and Lemon cake recipes.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 12

Source: Everyday Food, May 2009


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Whipped Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.

  3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

  4. Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using an offset-spatula or table knife, spread top with Whipped Frosting. Top with remaining cake; frost top, then sides.

Cook's Notes

Reserve the egg whites left over from the cake for the frosting. If you don't have buttermilk, substitute plain yogurt or sour cream (not fat-free).

Reviews Add a comment

  • MS12128842
    4 JUL, 2017
    This cake had a nice, sugar-cookie flavor, but came out very dense, heavy and flat (appeared to raise in the oven, but fell soon after it came out - 37 minutes@ 350). I substituted yogurt for the buttermilk, as suggested, but the batter was impossibly thick. Seems like there was too much butter, and/or not enough leavening.
    29 MAY, 2017
    I just made this cake for a birthday party. It came out perfectly. It was dense yet moist and with a delicious aroma of butter. I did use a traditional chocolate frosting so I cant comment on the suggested frosting. I will definitely make this cake again and am printing and saving it.
  • imin2beadsaol
    21 MAY, 2016
    I am trying to make the perfect vanilla cake. This recipe is not it! I made it as is (except milk for buttermilk) and I felt it was very dry! Very disappointed! Martha I expected an amazing cake from you and this was not!
  • imin2beadsaol
    10 MAY, 2016
    I am trying to make the perfect vanilla cake. This recipe is not it! I made it as is (except milk for buttermilk) and I felt it was very dry! Very disappointed! Martha I expected an amazing cake from you and this was not!
  • sweetolyve
    8 DEC, 2014
    I made this cake for my husbands birthday and it turned out very well. It was light and moist with an excellent texture. I accidentally put in a teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda, but it didn't have an adverse effect on the final product. Then I frosted it using the Wilton buttercream recipe where I substituted the shortening for lard, as it was what I had on hand. This cake turned out extremely well and will be one I'll use again. Thanks for this free recipe. No complaints here.
  • MS12308588
    6 AUG, 2014
    I made this cake with just a minor adjustment. I never serve my cakes until the next day. I had it in the fridge overnight, and then I frosted it and then put it back in the fridge. By keeping it in the fridge overnight the cake was dense but very moist. I think, like most recipes, you have to adjust to your taste. If you think it uses too much sugar, use less. I personally find many recipes bland and I just readjust them. I have used this recipe for giant cupcakes. I really like this.
  • substituteMartha
    19 FEB, 2014
    This cake was TERRIBLE. So bad that I registered with the website just to be able to write a review. I took a chance, even though there were a few others warning about the density and dryness. But seriously, this was AWFUL. Followed recipe to a T, double checked it when I saw how thick the batter was. And once it was baked and frosted - ugh. What a disappointment. Hey Martha, Are you proud of this recipe?Did you or your staff ever think to revise it based on the comments in the reviews? #skipit
  • Tarna Pandaram
    29 NOV, 2013
    If u using buttermilk 1 cup of butter is too much for this cake that is why its dense and the amount of sugar is also to much as well as the baking soda and baking powder is less I think Martha try using 1/2 cup melted butter I myself rather use margarine like rama original and use 1 tsp of baking powder and 3/4 teaspoons of baking soda Agitate the dry ingredients with a ball whisk to incorporate air Use 3 whole eggs only and then see the difference. I adj the qts a few times to get a perfect ck
  • ohsnapitsbrit
    4 MAR, 2013
    Would it be okay to use normal milk instead of buttermilk? How different will the taste be?
  • Jack03
    9 FEB, 2013
    I just wanted to tell if you have fan oven the baking time much less ~25 min. (