The 35 best cake recipes

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This is my best vanilla cake recipe. A classic butter cake but with Japanese techniques applied for the most plush, soft và moist yellow cake lượt thích you’ve never had before. This professional bakery style cake stays fresh và moist for 4 days — that’s unheard of! Use the same batter for perfect Vanilla Cupcakes. 

This is a reader favourite recipe included by popular demand in my debut cookbook “Dinner”.

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My best Vanilla Cake recipe is…..

Plush, moist, fluffy crumb without being freakishly unnaturally so (as some store bought can be). No more dense cakes!

Keeps near perfectly for 4 whole days.100% fresh on Day 1, still 96% perfect on Day 4.That’s unheard of!

Lovely vanilla and butter flavour without a greasymouthfeel;

Even, elegant crumb – no large tunnels or irregular, crumbly holes;

Bakes perfectly flat – no levelling required!

Not overly sweet; and

So if all that appeals khổng lồ you too, then I dare say this might become YOUR favourite vanilla cake recipe too! và here’s a little preview to show you how soft and fluffy it still is after 4 days:

Freshness preview – this cakeis 4 days old!


Origins of this vanilla cake

This vanilla cake is the result of bringing together the best of Japanese sponge cakes and Western butter based cakes. It has the world renowned very soft, fluffy crumb of Japanese cakes anduses the Japanese baking method, combined with the buttery goodness và sweetness of Western cakes.

But it’s more sturdy than Japanese cakes which are so delicate, they can really only be decorated with cream. Anything heavier and the bottom layer gets squished!

Also, importantly, this cake incorporates my cake shelf-life requirement lớn stay perfectly fresh for at least 2 days after it’s made. (This lasts perfectly for 4 days.) Because who bakes cakes on the day they are intended to lớn be served??

Interestingly, baking experts will recognise the method và ingredients in this cake lớn be very similar lớn what is called a Hot Milk Cake in America – albeit strangely it’s often described as a “dense” cake, presumably because they don’t preserve the egg aeration to the extent I insist we do và also because sometimes it’s baked in bundt pans which takes far longer lớn bake (= dense cake).


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The words“best served on the day” on a cakerecipe is never a good sign – it means it drastically degradesovernight. But THIS cake recipe is near perfect for 4 days – even 5 days!

I don’t want to lớn get too cake nerdy with you… but one sign of a well made cake is an even crumb. No large tunnels or lots of irregular size holes. It looks và tastesvelvety –a similar plush texture khổng lồ Red Velvet Cake.

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There’s a widely held misconception that cake flour is the secret to lớn a better cake. That’s only true for certain cakes. For this one, plain / all purpose flour yields better results.

Ingredients in my Best Vanilla Cake recipe

Here’s what you need khổng lồ make this plush, soft vanilla cake.No cake flour, no buttermilk, no sour cream. Tried them all – this cake is better with plain / all purpose flour & just milk.

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Plain / all purpose flour – compared khổng lồ cake flour,the flavour of the butter và vanilla comes through better, the crumb is slightly more velvety & it keeps slightly more moist too. Bonus: no need lớn hunt down / pay a premium for cake flour!Do not substitute with self raising flour or gluten không tính phí flour.

Eggs – whipped lớn aerate, these are key khổng lồ make the cake extraordinarily light & fluffy. You don’t get an eggy flavour;

Baking powder –not baking soda (bi-carb), it doesn’t rise as well. This is our safety net, extra helping hand to lớn make the cake rise.

Milk, full fat –just plain cow milk. Low fat works as well but rises marginally less. Vì not substitute with non dairy milk or buttermilk;

Sugar –best to use caster / superfine sugar if you can because it dissolves better in the eggs. But regular / granulated sugar works just fine too – you may just over up with some little brown spots on the base;

Oil –just 1 tablespoon adds a noticeable hint of extra moistness, especially on Day 4, without weighing down the cake in the slightest.Don’t be tempted to add more – I tried an extra tablespoon and it didn’t rise as well;

Vanilla extract – the best you can afford. Imitation will work just fine, but the flavour isn’t as pure or real. I use Queen Vanilla Extract.Don’t waste your money on vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste – it’s not worth it for cakes.


Why this is safer than typical “cream butter & sugar” cakes

Making a really good cake that starts with “cream butter and sugar until fluffy….” is actually harder than you think. The butter has to lớn be at the perfect temperature, and you can’t have chilly mixing bowls.

If the butter is too soft, the cake will be greasy and dense –sound familiar? If it’s too hard, you’ll never manage lớn cream it and you’ll over up with grease pockets. If you beat butter too long, you break the air pockets.

There’s more room for error with cookies và some other types of baked goods. But the butter temperature needs to lớn be near perfect for cakes and cupcakes. (17°C/63°F is the perfect temperature for “softened butter”).

And even if you nail it, the cake rapidly loses freshness. Even the next day it’s noticeably drier.I’ve tried dozens and dozens over the years, to compare khổng lồ this Vanilla Cake. This recipe puts all lớn shame in terms of fresh shelf life.


Heads up – this is a long step by step explanation post, khổng lồ ensure those who are new to baking are armed with everything they need to make this cake perfectly, first time and every time!

Why is vanilla cake “so hard”? Itseems hard lớn find the perfect cake because there is nothing to hide behind, it is one of the purest forms of baking. And the “cream butter và sugar” step is the biggest cause of problems, setting up the cake for success or failure from the very start (read above).

This Vanilla Cake recipe is much more foolproof!

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Vanilla Sponge Cake used lớn make a Victoria sponge – spread with strawberry jam, đứng top with whipped cream.

How khổng lồ make my best Vanilla Cake

A stand mixer makes this vanilla cake a breeze to make, though it can be made with a handheld electric beater.While it takes time tobeat the eggs khổng lồ make a lovely fluffy cake, this recipe is more fail-proof than the usual “cream butter và sugar until fluffy” recipes – read the above box for why.

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The quality plush, fluffy crumb of this cake is from double lifting power – whipped eggs PLUS baking powder!

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1. Whip the eggs and sugar –Beat the eggs with sugar for a whole 7 minutes until thick & glossy, it changes from yellow lớn white, & tripled in volume (just over double depth in the bowl).

The aeration created during this step is key for a soft, fluffy crumb. This is a technique borrowed from Japanese sponge cakes.

TOP TIP:After this step, keep beating to lớn aminimum otherwise you’llknock the air out. Just follow my time và beater speeds và you can’t go wrong!

Here’s what it looks like before & after beating:

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After 7 minutes of beating, the egg-sugar mixture will triple in volume (double in height in the mixing bowl).
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2. Gradually địa chỉ flour – Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Thenadd into egg mixture in 3 lots, mixing for just 5 seconds on speed 1 in between. This should make the flour just incorporated – don’t worry if there are some bits not mixed in.

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3. Hot melted butter in milk – use a microwave or stove lớn heat milk with the butter until it melts. Believe it or not, HOT milk helps with aeration in this cake. I doubted it, so I tried with cooled melted butter in milk & found it did not rise as well.

The use of hot milk with melted butter in a cake batter is another technique used in some types of Japanese sponge cakes (such as this one from Chopstick Chronicles, a Japanese food blog). Interestingly, I recently discovered it is also used in a traditional Southern cake called Hot Milk Cakes.

4. Set some batter into hot milk – this serves two purposes: a) bring down the temperature of the hot milk so it won’t “cook” the eggs (ie. Tempering); & b) it lightens up the mật độ trùng lặp từ khóa of the hot milk (see above – it becomes foamy) so it blends together faster when added to lớn the rest of the whipped egg mixture. Remember, minimal beating is key so we don’t knock out the cake-rising-bubbles we created in Step 1.

The melted butter in hot milk infuses this cake with beautiful subtle buttery flavour without the greasy mouthfeel inherent with butter cakes.

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5. Slowly pour milk mixture back into whipped eggs over đôi mươi seconds on tốc độ 1. Scrape down sides of bowls, then set for 10 seconds on tốc độ 1 – the batter should now be smooth;

6. Pour into 2 cake pans lined with parchment/baking paper.

This cake can be made in various pan sizes, bundt pans và also makes perfect cupcakes. Click herefor a handy table of different sizes, bake times & cake height (including 3 layer cakes).

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7. Optional Knock out big air bubblesby dropping the cake pans on the counter 3 times. This won’t affect the cake-rising bubbles created in Step 1. But itmakes large bubbles in the batter rise lớn the surface andburst.

If you don’t bởi this, you over up with maybe 6 or so large bubbles on the cake surface that go brown, & more unsightly large air pockets in the crumb. The surface blemishes don’t really matter if you are frosting. But if you’re not frosting the cake (eg just dusting with icing sugar / powdered sugar), you may care.

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8. Bake 30 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. The cake will have a slight dome but it flattens when it cools.

You may get the faintest cracks on the surface, lượt thích you can see in the middle of the left cake in the photo above. That can occur if your oven doesn’t distribute heat evenly (my left front is hotter). But don’t fret – once the cake cools và the slight dome flattens, the cracks will disappear.

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9. COOL upside downfor level cakes (so you have neat, straight layers in a layer cake) on a cooling rack. If you don’t mind a slight dome surface / specifically want to lớn show the beautiful golden brown surface (eg if making a cake dusted with icing sugar / powdered sugar, or a glaze), then cool it right side up; and

10. Decorate! Frost with your favourite frosting, smother with cream, fresh berries, swirl with chocolate fudge frosting or simply dust with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of yogurt or cream!

Day 4 – still super moist và fresh

The photos below are my attempt khổng lồ show you how incredibly soft the cake still is four days after it’s made! If it were dry lượt thích typical butter cakes that start with “cream butter và sugar until fluffy”, the crumb would break when I jabbed it, & it would never spring back.

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Tips for Vanilla Cake success

You’ll love that this list is a lot less stern than many other cake recipes!

Eggs at room temperature –these will fluff better & faster. It’s easy to warm up fridge cold eggs – just leave in warm water for 5 minutes. What’s a room temperature egg?Pick up the egg. Fridge cold? Too cold. Cool but not cold? That’s ok. Very warm?I would be worried they might be off!(Note: fridge cold eggs will still fluff just fine, but it takes a couple of minutes longer. Just moreconsistent results with room temp eggs).

De-chill icy cold mixing bowls – Cold kitchen? Cold bowls! Run them under warm tap water then dry before using. Not hot tap water – just warm. Why? Eggs aerate faster and better when slightly warm. Cold bowl will lower temperature of eggs. This is a general useful baking tip – eg softened butter creamed in an icy cold bowl will make it firm up.

Make sure the milk and butter are hot when you set in the batter. I don’t understand the science, all I know is that when I melted the butter in the milk ahead of starting the batter, then let it cool khổng lồ lukewarm while I faffed around getting everything else ready, the cake didn’t rise as well.

Once you start, don’t stop – once you start beating the eggs, keep going until the cake is in the oven. Bởi not at any point stop và take a điện thoại tư vấn from your chatty Aunt Margorie! Reason: bubbles in batter will subside if left sitting around, resulting in a dense cake.

Follow steps in the order per recipe – I’ve written out the steps very specifically in the most efficient order for the best result.Don’t try to bởi vì things ahead like melting the butter in hot milk then leave it sitting around while you vị everything else – it will either cool (cake doesn’t rise as well) or it gets a skin on it (this doesn’t dissolve in batter).

Cake pan WITHOUT loose base is best – the batter is quite thin so it can leak a bit if using springform pan or loose base sandwich pans. Not much, but a bit. Not the over of the world – you can prevent this by greasing the base extra well và “plugging” the gap with butter.

Recipe can be halved for one single layer cake, baked in one pan. However if you do make a full batch, bởi vì not try to lớn bake all batter in one pan or it won’t rise as well.Only exception is bundt pan – the hole in the middle helps with faster heat distribution.