Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Prep Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
1 8-inch layer cake

This easy all-purpose yellow cake takes just a bit longer to make than one from a packaged mix, but it's worth it.



  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for cake pans and parchment

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

  • 5 cups confectioner's sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment as well. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.

  2. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33 to 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.

For the frosting:

  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioner's sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

  2. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, swirling to coat in a decorative fashion. (If frosting becomes too soft, refrigerate to firm up.) Cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

    Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting
    Johnny Miller

Cook's Notes

Cream cheese is the key to frosting that's sweet but not cloying.

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