The recipe starts by creaming the butter and sugar together and then adding the eggs. Once that is mixed together well, the flour is added followed by the milk.
The process is easy to remember which makes this simple vanilla cake easy to make. And I’m certain you are going to agree that this is the best vanilla cake recipe!
For the cake
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cups (330 g) cake flour
- 2 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, room temperature
For the frosting
- 1 ½ cups (339 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 5 ½ cups (660 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream, room temperature
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the sides and bottom of 2 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit and generously grease the parchment paper as well. Dust the pans with flour then tap out any excess; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk and add it to the butter mixture followed by the milk. Beat on medium-low speed just until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with few moist crumbs attached. Take care to not over-bake. Check the cake at 15 minutes to see how it is doing and judge the timing from there.
- Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and pale in color, about 5 minutes.
- Add half the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed just until the sugar has fully moistened, then turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed just until the sugar has fully moistened, then turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and salt. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add 3 tablespoons of the heavy cream. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat until the cream is well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes. (After 2 minutes stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl then continue mixing.)
- Check the consistency of the frosting and add more cream, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, if needed. The frosting should be soft and spreadable but not so loose that it doesn’t hold its shape.
Assemble the cake
- Place one layer on a serving platter. Spread about 1/3 of the frosting over the top.
- Gently place the second layer on top of the frosting. Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
Make ahead tip
- Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days.
- Or layers can be triple wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Leave wrapped and set on the counter to thaw slightly before use.
- The frosting will keep for up to 2 weeks stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You must let the buttercream come to room temperature by setting it out on the counter for a couple of hours, then beat it with an electric mixer if needed.
- Once the cake has been assembled, cover it and keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature just before serving.
- The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving.