Golden Vanilla Cake

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
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Yield: one 9" x 13" cake, 24 cupcakes, two 9" round layers, or three 8" round layers

Recipe photo

This moist and tender yellow cake is an American classic. It can be paired with any of the frostings you love: chocolate, vanilla, coconut, caramel... We make this cake using the "paste method;" soft butter and room-temperature liquids are beaten into the dry ingredients, then the eggs are added one by one. It's a no-fuss way of making a delicious cake every time.

Our guarantee: This cake will be tender and moist. It makes a good layer cake, cupcake, or eat-out-of-the-pan cake, with a fine crumb that you can pick up with the back of your fork.

Golden Vanilla Cake

star rating (284) rate this recipe »
KAF guaranteed
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: one 9" x 13" cake, 24 cupcakes, two 9" round layers, or three 8" round layers
Published: 01/01/2010


Tips from our bakers

  • The butter in this recipe needs to be very soft. You can soften butter by placing the sticks, still in their wrappers, in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for 10 minutes. If you can leave a dent in the butter with a gentle touch, it's ready to use.
  • To warm the milk before adding it, heat it in the microwave for 1 minute. Add the vanilla after the milk is warm, then add all of the liquid to the recipe at once.
  • Never frost a cake until it's completely cool. For tips on frosting a cake, go to our cake decorating class.
  • This batter weighs 48 ounces; if you're using a scale to measure out your layers, each 9" layer should weigh 24 ounces; each 8" layer needs 16 ounces of batter.


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Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour your choice of pan(s): one 9" x 13" pan, two 9" round cake pans, three 8" round pans, or the wells of two muffin tins (24 muffin cups). You can also line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.

1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.

2) Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.

3) Combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.

4) Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.

5) With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.

6) Repeat this procedure with the second egg. Continue adding the eggs, scraping after each addition, until all 4 are added.

7) After the last egg is added, scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 30 more seconds.

8) Transfer the batter to the pans of your choice. For layers, divide the batter among the pans. Smooth out the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a tablespoon.

For cupcakes, scoop by heaping 1/4-cupfuls into the prepared muffin tins.

9) Bake for 40 minutes for a 9" x 13" pan; 27 minutes for 9" layers; 24 minutes for 8" layers, or 23 to 25 minutes for cupcakes.

10. The cake is done when it's golden brown around the edges and just beginning to pull away from the edge of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

11) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 piece (57g) Servings Per Batch: 24 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190 Calories from Fat: 24 Total Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 35mg Sodium: 150mg Total Carbohydrate: 30g Dietary Fiber: 0g Sugars: 18g Protein: 3g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


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  • star rating 04/28/2015
  • Nicole C. from Hyattsville, MD
  • This cake is heavy and dense but moist and delicious. I don't bake a lot but I love baking from scratch and this cake was easy to make.
  • star rating 04/26/2015
  • from
  • This made a beautiful cake!! It's moist and perfect for layering. The instructions were easy, I will definitely save this recipe and use lots more.
  • star rating 04/23/2015
  • Eastcstgrl from Montreal
  • Very easy to make! I'm Followed the instructions and it turned out great. Yes, the cake is dense but it's very moist. I used a wonderful Mexican vanilla that gave the cake some extra floor.
  • star rating 04/19/2015
  • Cassandra from Wisconsin
  • I baked this cake for a party, and it came out of the oven looking lovely. The taste was good, however the cake turned out very dense with a spattering of large air bubbles in the crumb. I do not have a mixer and I made the cake all by hand, so perhaps this is the reason why it did not turn out ideally.

    Mixing cakes by hand is a dying art, and we commend you for trying. It's most likely the butter wasn't creamed as much as a mixer would do, and the large air bubbles are due to how the flour was folded in. Very soft butter and a strong set of shoulders will help you get a lighter cake next time, or you might want to look for a cake with oil in it. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  • star rating 04/06/2015
  • Angie from Trenton, NJ
  • I was trying to find a good vanilla cake recipe and I think I found it. I tried it out on Easter Sunday. At first I was hesitant because of the reviews, but decided to give it a try. I used Domino's sugar because that's what I had on hand. After mixing everything and put batter in pan, I noticed how heavy the batter was and prepared myself for a cornbread like cake. I made a strawberry frosting with fresh strawberries to go on it. Well to my surprise, the cake was moist, it didn't have a strong vanilla flavor and wasn't really sweet but the frosting made up for that. I will definitly make this again but will increase the vanilla flavoring.
  • star rating 04/03/2015
  • Emily from Lillehammer, Norway
  • Meh. . . kind of boring. Not a lot of flavor. A little dry.
    We're sorry this recipe didn't meet your expectations, but do appreciate your feedback. We'd be happy to answer any questions you have via our Baker's Chat. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 03/25/2015
  • member-kmo16481 from KAF Community
  • AARGH. Cakes are my downfall! I followed this recipe exactly. Weighed the ingredients where appropriate (flour and sugar) instead of measured. Used king arthur AP flour, but regular sugar. The cakes fell as soon as they came out of the oven (even tho a toothpick came out clean) and the final cake was VERY dense. The chocolate frosting was GREAT (thank goodness) but the cake was a total even tasted kind of faintly raw. I know enough about my cake adventures to know it was probably my fault...but what did I do?

    Cakes fall when they come out of the oven if they don't have the right amount of flour (measure carefully!) and if the cake is underdone. Use the toothpick test but also try looking for visual clues like color, a slight pulling away from the sides, and springback when touched. Give the Baker's Hotline a call a 1-855-371-2253 and we'll coach you through the next one. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  • star rating 03/15/2015
  • grace from mountain lake, mn
  • I've made this 3 times, 2 times by following the recipe. The last time I used buttermilk and 1/2 tsp baking soda. I did that to use up some buttermilk. Fantastic recipe. Fantastic cake.
  • star rating 03/14/2015
  • Andy from Massachusetts
  • I didn't care for the results. I followed instructions to the letter. Baked the cake in 2x9"x2" pans. The cake was heavy and dense. It was not sweet enough and was more bread-like than cake like.
    We're sorry this recipe did not meet your expectations. We'd be glad to help you troubleshoot this or any recipe if you give the Baker's Hotline a call at 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 03/08/2015
  • knit2cats from KAF Community
  • Beautiful yellow cake - what cake mix aspires to but will never be. I made this in a 9 x 13 pan in an oven that can't keep an even temperature and it came out beautifully. Layers were light with even texture. Frosted it with chocolate frosting and took it to a picnic where it disappeared. I was careful to follow the mixing instructions, beating each step for the prescribed time even though it seemed to be a bit more than usual. Perhaps that made it work so well.
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