This vanilla cake recipe will make about 4 cups of cake batter, which means it will fill two 9-inch cake pans. It's also easy to double it or triple it if you happen to be making a tiered wedding cake.
For a standard 3-tier cake with a 10" bottom tier, 8" middle tier and 6" top tier (two layers each), the recipe below will make the top tier. Then double it to make the middle tier, and triple it for the bottom.
Our number one tip for anyone baking a cake: Use fresh baking powder! If it's been more than six months since you bought the baking powder in your pantry, replace it. And if you don't know how long it's been, replace it anyway. Baking powder loses its potency quickly, and your cake won't rise properly if it's too old.
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (293 grams)
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick, softened, and divided into 4 separate chunks of about 2 tbsp. each)
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- Let all your ingredients come to room temperature. If the butter, eggs and milk are too cold, the batter won't form an emulsion and your cake won't be light and fluffy.
- Heat your oven to 350 F.
- Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. It can help to line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit the pan.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until the dry ingredients are combined.
- With the mixer on speed 1, add the butter one chunk at a time, until the mixture forms a grainy consistency, between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula.
- Add vanilla and then with the mixer again on low, add the milk in a slow stream. Stop and scrape, then mix for another minute.
- Add the first egg, and mix on the medium-low until incorporated, then add the second one and do the same. Mix until fluffy, about 30 seconds, then scrape down the bowl.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and give each one a couple of solid bangs on the countertop to release any air bubbles, then transfer them to the oven.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a crumb or two attached. You can start testing at 30 minutes, because it's better to check too soon than to over bake. The tops will be golden brown, the edges will pull away from the sides of the pan, and the cakes will spring back when you touch them.
- Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges by running a knife along the sides of the pan, turn the cakes out onto the racks and cool for at least another hour before frosting.