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Classic Vanilla Cake Recipe

Updated: May 25

The only vanilla cake recipe you need! In all seriousness, this cake I have never had issues with. I promise you, you won‘t want to go back! With a secret ingredient to add extra moisture, the cake will stay moist even after freezing. Even better, it is a completely made-from-scratch recipe so delicious, you won't want to go back to box mix!

mother's day vanilla cake slice

If you need a vanilla cake that stays moist even after freezing or chilling, this is the one for you!

A classic vanilla cake is one of the most commonly used recipes out there and a recipe you should always have on hand to impress your family or friends. This scratch recipe makes a tender and fluffy vanilla cake with a few extra ingredients to add an extra layer of richness and moisture. This recipe not only uses buttermilk but also sour cream - and here’s why!

Using buttermilk adds a super rich and moist texture to your cake, however, you may use regular milk if that is all you have, but if you can get some, I would highly recommend it! You may also try making your own, which I have a step-by-step blog on how to do so, here. You may be asking why sour cream, but I promise you it is a game changer in the baking world. Adding sour cream along with buttermilk adds the perfect amount of flavor and in my opinion, gives it an additional boost of moisture.

Tools You'll Need

Here are some kitchen tools I like to suggest for making my cakes. These are the exact products I use every time:

  • Electric Mixer or a Bowl and Silicone Spatula

  • Cupcake or Cake Tins

  • Cupcake Liners (if making cupcakes)

  • Parchment paper cut to cake tin (if making cakes)

Recipe Questions

Why Sour Cream?

It is the same reason for buttermilk! Sour cream similar to buttermilk adds a boost of moisture, without affecting the vanilla, but it also adds more richness. Sour cream has a higher fat content, giving that ultimate rich flavor, and adds a bit of acidity to your cake, giving it a nice and tender texture. Trust me, no one will know that there is sour cream in it...well unless you tell them. The secret is between us!

What If I Only Have Salted Butter?

You may absolutely use salted! Just opt out of salt from your dry ingredients.

Can I Use All-Purpose Flour All Together Instead?

Absolutely! I would replace the 1 3/4 cup of cake flour with all-purpose in addition to the 1 cup. The reason I recommend using cake flour is due to it being extra-finely sifted, which results in a lighter crumb and fluffy texture. Cake flour is also a low-protein compared to all-purpose flour, so in my opinion it helps keep the cake taste and not like bread.

Can I alter this recipe for different flavors?

You can! To an extent. Feel free to add fruit (pureed or dehydrated/freeze dried) or different extracts. Adding too much of a new ingredient can alter the recipe too much and cause the outcome to not be as great. It will be best to look at my other cupcake recipes for specific flavors.

Recipe Tips

  • Be sure to check your baking powder and soda expiration date. If you end up having dense layers that did not seem to fluff up at all, expired or over-mixed batter is usually the culprit.

  • Use parchment paper for easy cake removal. By cutting a circle to fit the bottom of your cake pan and then a strip around the inner side, before pouring in your batter, you can always ensure a super clean and easy removal with zero sticking.

  • Scrape the sides! During the batter mixing process, be sure to do these steps slowly and scrape the sides and bottom of your bowl 1-2 times to ensure there are no ingredients that do not get mixed in properly. Skipping this can result in chunks of butter, flour, etc ending up in the middle of your cake.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes

Servings: 2 - 8" cakes


  • 1 cup or 2 sticks (227g) unsalted butter (room temperature) (salted is okay, see notes)

  • 1 3/4 cup (350g) granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)

  • 1 egg white (room temperature)

  • 1 cup (120g) cake flour

  • 1 3/4 cup (210g) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream (room temperature)

  • 1 cup (245g) buttermilk (room temperature)

  • 1/3 cup (64g) vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon (13g) vanilla extract

  • 2 teaspoon (10g) baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon (3g) baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon (5g) salt

  • Vanilla American Buttercream


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line your cake or cupcake tins accordingly

2. Sift flour, sugar and baking powder into a mixing bowl

3. In a smaller bowl, mix your buttermilk and sour cream until it is an even thicker consistency, and then add your eggs, egg white, oil, and vanilla. Whisk until combined and set aside.

4. Slice your room-temperature butter into cubes and slowly add them to your dry ingredients while your mixer is on low. Once all your butter is added, turn up the speed 1-2 notches. Do not overmix this step, it should resemble wet sand.

5. While your mixer is on low, slowly let your wet ingredients drizzle into the bowl. Scrape the sides and bottom halfway through. Mix until ingredients are just combined, we do not want to overmix here either! You may finish off by folding with a spatula to remove any excess lumps.

6. Fill your cake tins at halfway and cupcakes 3/4 full. If making cupcakes, bake for a starting time of 15 minutes check them, and add more time if needed if a toothpick does not come out clean from the centers. Bake cakes for approximately 30-40 minutes, if needed longer, until a toothpick comes out from the center with some crumbs and there is no jiggle.

vanilla cake

Recipe Notes

Freezing Your Cakes

Once your cakes are out of the oven, try to wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer until frozen and/or you are ready to decorate them. This little hack helps trap the moisture in and does not let the cakes to continue to bake in the tins.

Once you are ready to use your cakes, you may trim them while chilled (which makes it easier) and then stack or frost as you normally would once they have thawed out just slightly but not at room temperature. This makes it easier to crumb-coat, decorate, etc.

Buttermilk vs. Milk

Buttermilk is not needed, but it adds just that right amount of extra moisture and flavor that my customers enjoy! Buttermilk has a bit of a higher fat content than regular milk. You may use regular milk any % will work or try making your own buttermilk substitute from the options in my Buttermilk Substitutes blog!

Egg Whites

I call for 1 egg white to get rid of some of the yellow tone, however you may use 4 whole eggs for a yellow cake! If you want a true white cake, see my recipe here.


You may use unsalted or salted for this recipe. I normally have a lot of unsalted butter on hand due to my sugar cookie recipe, however if you just have salted, opt the additional salt in this recipe.

Have you tried this recipe? Tag me on Social Media!

Use #sweeteatsbyrachel and mention @sweeteatsbyrachel on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

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31 may

Hii what can I use instead of a sour cream that’s not dairy ?

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Rachel Mann
Rachel Mann
03 jun
Contestando a

At this time, current substitutes can be mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt with a small squeeze of lemon! I will need to research some non-dairy ones.

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07 may

What can I use instead of sour cream or can I eliminate it?

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Rachel Mann
Rachel Mann
16 may
Contestando a

You may use mayonnaise or plain greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon juice!

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22 abr

If I want a three layered cake and am using 7” tins, should I split between 3 tins or make 1.5 times the receipe? Or can these cakes be cut in half to have 4 tier? Roughly how high if I make this recipe exactly with the 8” tins and iced would this be?

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Rachel Mann
Rachel Mann
22 abr
Contestando a

It would depend on how thick you want your layers. If you want thicker layers, then I would definitely suggest making more batter - otherwise you can still do 1 batch and produce just slightly thinner layers (you wouldn’t be able to fill your tins half way) I have personally only made this cake in 5”, 6” and 8” sizes. This batch will make 3 to4 - 5” layers, 3 -6” layers or 2 -8” layers

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