This Simple Vanilla Cake is made using 6 ingredients and one bowl only but is incredibly moist and outright delicious! Throw away those ready-made mixes because this from-scratch recipe is as easy as it gets- no electric mixer needed!
Everyone needs an easy, reliable vanilla cake recipe to whip up a thoughtful celebration cake or a last-minute dessert. This novice-friendly recipe will show you how to make a classic batter ready to go in the oven in 15 minutes only! This cake keeps fresh and flavourful for several days. Top with your favourite frosting, or serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.
Homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe
If there is ever a cake suitable for any occasion, it will be this one! Whether it’s for a birthday, baby shower, anniversary, or a simple gathering of loved ones, you can never go wrong with a classic vanilla cake. The best part is, it can go from an elegant white cake by adding a simple frosting to a stunning cake art by embellishing it with various goodies! But first, let’s take a look at what you need to make the base cake and how to bake one.
Simple Vanilla Cake Ingredients
No need to rush to the nearest grocery store to make this cake. All you need is a quick rummage of your pantry to find them.
- Plain flour (all-purpose flour): this versatile flour makes a perfectly soft and crumbly cake. Make sure to check on the package instruction for flour to liquid ratio depending on the brand you are using for best results.
- Can I use cake flour? Yes, you can. Using this will result in a fluffier and airy cake that is equally as delicious.
- Can I use gluten-free flour? Absolutely! There are a lot of available gluten-free flour brands that you can substitute for plain flour 1:1.
- Baking powder: Do not substitute this with baking soda. Using the right amount of this will give you a nicely risen cake that is soft and fluffy.
- What happens when I add more? Too much will make your cake rise too quickly and eventually collapse.
- What happens if I lessen it? You will end up with a tough and dense cake.
- Caster sugar: also called superfine sugar. It is more refined than granulated sugar but coarser than confectioner’s sugar. Since this is a quick cake recipe, using this type of sugar is more convenient as they are lighter and dissolves easily.
- Can I use granulated sugar? Yes. The only difference between the two is their texture, so if this is what you have, go ahead and use it.
- Butter: makes the cake moist and adds a delicate flavour. Make sure that it is melted or softened at room temperature before adding it to the dry ingredients.
- Can I use dairy-free butter instead? No problem. There are lots of vegan butter that are equally as creamy and delicious.
- Milk: gives the cake a tender and moist mouth feel.
- Can I use dairy-free milk? Yes, you can use almond, oat, or soy milk instead.
- Vanilla essence: adds a delicate floral flavour and enticing aroma to the cake. You can substitute 1 tbsp. of vanilla essence with 2 tsp. of vanilla extract.
Make Simple Vanilla Cake From Scratch
Are you ready to make the easiest cake ever? Here’s how:
- Preheat your oven to 180°C / 355°F. If using a convection oven, preheat to 160°C / 320°F.
- Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inches) round cake tin with baking paper.
- Using a large mixing bowl, sift together plain flour and baking powder, then mix the sugar until everything is well incorporated. Create a well in the centre and add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk until well combined.
- Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until it turns golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool on the tin for 10 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
Top Tips & FAQs
How can I Serve it best?
From simple to stylish, elegant to fun and charming, it depends on how you design it!
- Serve this cake with a simple vanilla buttercream frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 125 g (4.5 oz / ½ cup) softened butter with 1 ½ cups of sifted icing sugar. Add 1 tsp. of vanilla essence and 2 tbsp. milk then beat well until fluffy.
- Place some rainbow sprinkles on top to add some colour and make it fun!
- Keep it classy by adding whipped cream and fresh berries and fruits on top.
- Make it chocolaty by adding some chocolate chips or shavings and decorating it with chocolate buttercream frosting.
Can I use this recipe to make a layered cake?
If you want a more elaborate layered cake that is equally delicious and easy to make, check out my Easy Layered Vanilla Cake recipe.
How do I Store Leftovers?
This cake stays beautifully moist for days! You can keep this cake un-refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Can I freeze this cake?
Yup! To freeze the cooked cake, wrap tightly using cling wrap, then place in a zip-lock or freezer bag. Allow to defrost for 6 hours or overnight, and then serve as usual.
Can I use other pans instead?
Yes, you can. You can play around with the shape of the cake you want. A square pan, Bundt pan, or even a muffin pan will work. Just make sure that you adjust the baking time when using smaller pans to prevent over baking.
Tips when making Simple Vanilla Cake
- Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before using them. Take the milk and out of the fridge at least 15 minutes before starting.
- Do not over mix the batter or you will end up with a dense and dry cake. You just have to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are well blended.
- The butter may solidify and make the batter a bit lumpy - this is expected and is fine.
Baking time depends on the size of the cake pan you will be using. It is best to check if the cake is baked through by poking the center with a skewer or toothpick. It should come out clean before you take it out of the oven.
Simple Vanilla Cake (One Bowl & No Electric Mixer)
Everyone needs an incredibly easy and delicious vanilla cake recipe. This cake is perfect for a simple birthday cake or a quick dessert for guests. It only uses one bowl and doesn't need an electric mixer!
- 1 ½ cups (225 g) plain flour / all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (16 g) baking powder
- 1 cup (240 g) caster sugar / superfine sugar
- 180 g (¾ cup / 6.5 oz) butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups (375 mL) milk
- 2 teaspoon (10 g) vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F (fan/convection) or 180°C / 355°F (standard). Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin with baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together plain flour and baking powder. Whisk in sugar. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add melted butter, milk and vanilla essence. Whisk altogether until well combined (the butter may solidify and make the batter a bit lumpy - this is okay).
- Pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Please note that my recipes are measured in metric cups and spoons which are larger than US cups and spoons. Most recipes will be fine if measured in US cups and spoons, but please use the weight (grams) measurement for the most accurate result.
- You can keep this cake un-refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. This cake stays beautifully moist. To freeze the cooked cake, wrap tightly in clingwrap then place in a zip-loc or freezer bag. Allow to defrost for 6 hours or overnight then serve as normal.
Substitutions & Tips
- I serve this cake with a simple vanilla buttercream frosting: in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 125 g (4.5 oz / ½ cup) softened butter with 1 ½ cups of sifted icing sugar. Add 1 teaspoon (5 g) of vanilla extract and 2 tbsp(40 mL) milk then beat well until fluffy.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: ⅛th of Cake (No Frosting)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397Total Fat: 19.5gSaturated Fat: 11.8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 48.4mgSodium: 186.1mgCarbohydrates: 49.2gFiber: 1gSugar: 26.7gProtein: 4.8g
Bibita Rijal says
I baked as per ur instruction with slight change but mine came out a bit dense. Is it because I used granulated sugar instead of caster sugar?
Hi Bibita! The granulated sugar may have made the cake a little denser, but it still shouldn't have been too much different. Have you checked whether your baking powder is expired? This is often the cause of denser cakes. It could also be caused by too much whisking after you combine the wet and dry ingredients. It is best to just whisk the batter just until everything is well combined, otherwise the finished cake can be heavy and dense. Hope this helps! 🙂
Hello! I really want to try your recipe for my daughter's 2nd birthday,but I was wondering if I can substitute sugar for organic maple syrup? If yes than how much should I put? Thank you kindly!
Hi Stella! I would be careful substituting maple syrup as the sugar gives this cake its structure and using syrup may make it very dense. I would suggest using half caster sugar and half maple syrup. Replace 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup of syrup and whisk in the syrup with the milk, butter and vanilla. Hope that helps and wishing your daughter a lovely birthday!
Hi! I noticed in the video that you use a fan-forced oven. Would the baking time and temp be the same for a conventional oven?
Hi Penny! It would be 180C (355F) for a regular (non-fan-forced) oven. I'll update the recipe now to reflect this 🙂
Thank you so much for your reply! I made this a couple of days ago, and while I agree the texture is more on the dense and chewy side, it's still very tasty -- moist, buttery, and perfect with coffee! I mean, I've already finished it, so that's got to say something, right? ? As I commented on Pinterest, it kind of reminds me of vanilla mug cake. I'd make it again.
I had to substitute out the caster sugar for regular sugar (melted the butter and then added sugar to it and put it in the microwave for one minute to try and break down the sugar), I used baking soda/cream tartar/tapioca starch instead of baking powder (cornstarch allergy), and used vanilla extract rather than vanilla essence (I don't have this so I used vanilla extract and just half the amount), but this little cake with so few ingredients is remarkable good. I skipped the frosting and just served strawberries. mmm mmm I would recommend cake. I cooked the cake in an 8" square disposable foil pan for 40 mins. The sugar made the outside golden brown and slightly crunchy. It was soooo good. I will make it again.
Those sound like wonderful additions! So so glad it worked out well for you. I'll absolutely have to try this with strawberries. Enjoy 🙂
Jhanvi Parekh says
Hi! I loved your recipe andI just cant stop making it. Can I use this recipe as like a base cake batter and can we add cacao powder to make a chocolate cake? Is that possible?
Hi Jhanvi, I haven't tried changing the ingredients to make a chocolate cake yet! But I would try replacing 1/4 cup of the flour with 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder and also adding an extra 2 tbsp of milk. Hope this helps!
Hi I tried this cake taste was very good only problem it was not even all.over what could be the problem also I wanna make big batch of this cake I have to make mini cakes for that I have to cut in round shape , so wanna make in bigger portion what will be ingredient measurement ? Plzzzzzzzz tell me in detail neeed to make on urgent basis also how can I communicate with u u have any Facebook page ? I m safina from pakistan
Hi Safina, apologies for the late reply! Even cooking usually comes down to the brand or type of oven you are using. I recommend rotating the cake half way through cooking to ensure even cooking. I would double the entire recipe, then bake it in a large sheet pan so it is one thin layer. Allow to cool completely then cut into small circles. I hope that helps!
Can I substitute baking powder for baking soda?
Hi Faith, if you are using baking soda, then only use 1 tsp rather than 1 tbsp. Note that this might give the cake a tangy taste. A better substitute would be to omit the baking powder and use self-raising flour instead of plain flour. Hope that helps 🙂
Just want to be sure no egg required?
Hi Rose, that's correct 🙂 this cake is egg free!
Hi, can i use self raising flour instead of plain flour and baking powder in this recipe? Thanks ?
Hi Amber, yes you sure can. Just omit the baking power and use self-raising instead of plain. Hope you love the cake 🙂
It looks me mouth watering,but why are there no eggs,is there a difference in taste ?
Hi! This cake is very light and fluffy even without eggs. Because of the amount of butter and milk, eggs aren't necessary in this recipe. I hope you enjoy!
This cake is super easy to make and taste scrumptious. I have made it several times and my family love it. Thank you very much for this super easy delicious cake.
Thank you for the lovely comment Victoria, I'm so glad you and your family really love the cake 🙂
Thank you very much for sharing. It’s a very different recipe from what I have used in the past.
It’s so quick and easy, and makes a beautifully moist cake. I used the buttercream recipe that you included, but would like to try berries and whipped cream next time I bake it.
I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe, Sandy! Berries and whipped cream with this cake sound absolutely divine 🙂 Enjoy!
Hi Chloe, can I put cinnamon sugar on top of this cake instead of icing?
Hi Judy, you absolutely can. I would brush the warm cake with melted butter then sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar. I hope you enjoy! 🙂
Oh, dear. Have just made this and it was so wet inside after 50 minutes I left it in for another 10. Still very gummy (raw) inside. I’ve checked and re-checked the recipe and cannot find where I went wrong. Very disappointed as I must have done something wrong.
Hi Katherine, I am so sorry to hear that this recipe didn't work for you! It definitely should not be gummy or undercooked after 50-60 minutes. I have a couple of possible causes; firstly, check that your baking powder isn't expired as this is a common cause of flat or undercooked cakes. Secondly, make sure you measured out the flour correctly - I spoon the flour into my measuring cup then level out the top with the back of a butter knife. Lastly, check that your oven is at the correct temperature using an oven thermometer. The cake should be baked in the top half of the oven to best allow the air to circulate. Also note that glass or heavy ceramic cake pans will significantly increase cooking time. I hope this helps, fingers crossed if you choose to try it again!
I was thinking of using this recipe to make a smaller 6 inch layered cake. Would That work with this particular recipe? Thanks!
Hi Kaitlyn, that should work however the cake is likely to be quite short even in a 6 inch pan. I suggest making 1.5x the recipe for 2 x 6 inch pans or else double the recipe and use the leftovers for cupcakes. Hope that helps 🙂
Neha Natani says
So I wanted to make a one bowl cake today without the electric mixer and yours was the first one that popped on google. I liked the recipe also because it had no eggs and got my 20 months old to do the mixing! I can’t begin to describe how beautifully the cake has turned out. Its melting in the mouth. We just loved the buttery texture. I thought of making icing but I don’t think I would need to make any extra effort. It will be gulped as it is.
Hi! Sorry meant can I substitute the sugar with Stevia or agave nectar syrup?
Hi, you can definitely substitute the sugar 1:1 with a baking sweetener. Make sure it is a sweetener designed specifically for baking that is meant to be used in equal parts with sugar i.e. Splenda Original Granulated Sweetener. Hope you enjoy 🙂
Hi! Sorry meant could I substitute the sugar with Stevia or agave nectar syrup?
Fantastic recipe, quick, easy and delicious! Chocolate version next on my list!