I didn’t think I would ever post a vanilla cake recipe largely because they are usually eminently forgettable. However, when after years of too sweet, too eggy, too boring, I finally found The Vanilla Cake, then I had to share it here. Does it hurt that it comes together in one bowl without a mixer? Of course not. Could you potentially improve the crumb by whipping the butter/oil with sugar and incorporating eggs one by one? Possibly, and if I ever do then rest assured I will add notes here. For now I am thrilled with this cake as is – moist, pleasingly dense, clearly vanilla, far from boring and ten minutes away from being in the oven at any given time.
The Vanilla Cake has made several public appearances by now. It debuted at a cousins baby shower, was underneath this Tiffany inspired cake and was one of the flavors of my daughters birthday cake. I always fill it with a cream cheese frosting and use an American style buttercream to decorate the cake. The tang of a cream cheese frosting works wonderfully well with this cake and it is perfect for when you are using buttercream to decorate a cake because it is not too sweet. Here I paired it with a slightly more sophisticated icing, a maple coffee cream cheese icing and topped it all with a thinned store bought dulce de leche. Rest assured that the frosting recipe will also be up on the blog soon!
I usually avoid expensive ingredients, but here I do enjoy the transformative effect of the Vanilla Bean. If you don’t want to grab one then just go ahead and increase the amount of Vanilla Extract, but please use PURE Vanila Extract not the artificial kind. Because I like to make sure the cake remains moist I also make a quick simple syrup using the vanilla bean pod. Once again if you don’t have a vanilla bean use a splash of extract at the end before brushing over the cake. The simple syrup is also a great opportunity to add flavour – if you are using a lemon frosting then add in a little lemon zest, for this one I added a little maple extract.
The Vanilla Cake
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 2 1/2 if you are not using a vanilla bean
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
Syrup for brushing
- 1/4 cup water
- 1-2 tbsp sugar
- the scraped out vanilla bean or flavouring of choice
Preheat you oven to 350, generously grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch pans.
Measure the sugar out into a large bowl. Split the vanilla bean pod in two and scrape all that delicious smelling stuff out. Using clean hands rub the the vanilla beans into the sugar until it is evenly dispersed and it smells like heaven in your kitchen.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt and use a whisk to a combine.
In a separate bowl (or an oversized measuring cup) melt half a cup of butter, add half a cup of oil, follow with the milk and then the eggs and whisk till well combined.
Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ones and whisk briskly till combined.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake till golden on top and when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. In an 8-inch pan this takes me 35 minutes, but every oven is a little different.
Let cool in the pan for five minutes then invert onto a wire rack.
While the cake is baking warm the vanilla bean pod, water and sugar in a small saucepan or in the microwave, whisk to dissolve the sugar and add the flavoring if you weren't using a vanilla bean. Brush over the cakes as they are cooling on the wire rack.
Fill and cover with your frosting of choice!