What’s a good vanilla cake recipe without baking powder?


Kurt Olsen

This made-from-scratch Basic Vanilla Cake recipe should be in your repertoire. It’s light, delicate, and bursting with vanilla flavor. Its buttery, juicy quality makes it ideal for any occasion.

I’ve been on the hunt for a great vanilla cake recipe something I will be able to utilize again and again. I tried many and never found one that was wonderful enough to claim a spot on my blog until now.If you enjoy my version, you may also like my vanilla cupcakes and moist white cake recipe. It uses only egg whites instead of whole eggs. Or my mug cake version and cake pops for single and bite-sized servings! Or my chocolate cake if you’d love a chocolate version.This is the same recipe I used in my “ how to make the perfect cake ” post. To guarantee fantastic outcomes every time, make sure you follow all of the guidelines I provide you in that article.

The recipe starts by creaming the butter and sugar together and then adding the eggs. After it has been well combined, 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’ll agree that this is the finest vanilla cake recipe!

Why this basic vanilla cake recipe works

  • This simple vanilla cake recipe employs the 19th-century 1-2-3-4 technique. It’s a simple way to memorize the component proportions. 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, and 4 eggs.
  • I tweaked these amounts slightly to create the texture I desired. I cut the sugar in half and the flour in half. This resulted in a lighter, less sugary cake.
  • Cake flour is used in baking to provide a fine crumb and delicate cake texture.

Vanilla cake ingredients

As mentioned above, this cake uses standard pantry ingredients. However, using high-quality ingredients is essential for producing a delicious cake with the greatest texture. Let’s go through those elements in further depth.

  • Butter: Unsalted butter, melted to room temperature, creams beautifully with the sugar.
  • Sugar: Granulated white sugar is what works best.
  • Eggs: I use 4 whole eggs in my cake recipes.
  • Vanilla: Look for high-quality vanilla to use. I prefer Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla or you can make your own vanilla .
  • Flour: Bob’s Red Mill Super Fine Cake Flour is the greatest and will give the nicest texture for the cake.
  • Leavening: Baking powder is used to give the cake rise.
  • Salt: Salt helps to balance the sweetness.
  • Milk: Whole milk is preferred, however buttermilk may also be used.

How do you make a cake from scratch?

Making a cake at home is quite simple! The creaming process is used to emulsify the ingredients in this recipe. This also contains air, which gives the cake a light and fluffy texture.

The Batter – It is critical to let the cold ingredients out for at least 1 hour before starting. The butter, eggs, and milk must be at room temperature in order for them to blend together properly.

The Frosting – The frosting is my very favorite basic vanilla buttercream . I’ve written a separate post on the icing. Be sure to pop over and read all my tips for silky smooth frosting that isn’t overly sweet tasting.

Step 1: Gather the ingredients and preheat the oven

It is critical to utilize room temperature butter, eggs, and milk. Room temperature ingredients will combine more easily, giving you a properly emulsified batter.

Set the butter, eggs, and milk out on the counter 1 hour before you plan to make the cake. All of the remaining ingredients should be measured out and ready to go.

Prepare your stand mixer or portable mixer with the paddle attachment. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly oil and flour them. Preheat the oven for around 30 minutes before starting to make the batter.

Step 2: Cream the butter and sugar together

The butter must be room temperature in order for it to cream properly with the sugars. This is why it is critical to plan things out 1 hour ahead of time.

To combine the butter and sugar, use a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment. You’re looking for a light and fluffy texture.

It should appear lighter in color and double the sized in volume once it has been creamed properly. This might take between 5 and 10 minutes.

Step 3: Add the eggs and vanilla

Make sure the eggs are at room temperature or the batter may curdle.

Add one egg at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla extract.

Step 4: Add the dry ingredients

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir everything up well with a whisk.

Sift the flour mixture into the butter mixer. This will remove any lumps from the cake flour and allow it to mix into the mixture.

Pour in the milk gradually while the mixer is on low speed. Continue to beat the batter until all of the flour has been incorporated. Take special care not to overmix.

Step 5: Bake the cake

Divide the cake batter evenly between the two pans. 20-30 minutes in the oven. Only cook until a toothpick inserted into the middle emerges with a few moist crumbs attached.

Because oven temperatures might vary, I recommend beginning to check for doneness at approximately 15 minutes.

Cool the cake layers in the pan for 10 minutes then invert them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cake has cooled, create the frosting and frost it.

Vanilla Cake FAQ’s

Can I bake this cake in three 8-inch round pans rather than two 9-inch pans?

You very definitely can. The recipe yields enough batter to fill 2 9-inch pans, 3 8-inch pans, or 24 muffin cups.

The baking time will vary somewhat. Start checking the cakes about 5-7 minutes sooner than the time listed in the recipe.

How can I modify the recipe to make it function at high altitude?

I have zero experience baking at high altitudes so I don’t feel comfortable giving advice for this. A reader who lives 5,000 feet above sea level, on the other hand, made the following changes:

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

All of the other components in the recipe remained the same. Baked in 2 8-inch round cake pans at 375°F for 25 minutes.

She claimed the cake was amazing and that she had already asked that it be prepared again.

How do I make a cake more moist?

First, make sure you’ve followed all my tips on how to make the perfect cake . Second, keep a close eye on it during baking. Use a wooden toothpick to check it.

  • If the toothpick comes out with moist batter on it, the baking time should be increased.
  • If the toothpick comes out with a few dry crumbs, the cake is done and should be removed from the oven.
  • If the toothpick comes out entirely clean, the cake has cooked for too long and will be dry.

Check the cake around 5-7 minutes before the recommended cooking time.

If you like this basic vanilla cake recipe , try these others:

  • Birthday Cake
  • Marble Cake
  • Lemon Raspberry Cake
  • Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
  • Effortless Angel’s Food Cake


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

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the sides and bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans lightly. 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.
  2. In a large mixing basin, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly mixing after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a medium mixing basin, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk it in and then add it to the butter mixture, followed by the milk. Just till merged, beat on medium-low pace.
  4. Divide the batter equally among the prepared baking pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with few moist crumbs attached. Take care not to overcook. Check the cake at 15 minutes to see how it is doing and judge the timing from there.
  5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the frosting

  1. Beat the butter on medium-high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing basin with a handheld electric mixer until creamy and pale in color, approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low until thoroughly wet, then increase to medium-high and beat until well combined, approximately 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar and beat on low until well wet, then increase to medium-high and beat until well combined, approximately 3-5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Slowly add 3 tablespoons of heavy cream to the mixer on low speed. 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.)
  5. Check the consistency of the frosting and add more cream, ½ tablespoon at a time, if needed. The frosting should be light and spreadable, but not too loose to lose its form.

Assemble the cake

  1. On a serving tray, arrange one layer. Spread about ⅓ of the frosting over the top.
  2. Gently place the second layer on top of the frosting. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing.


Cake flour: Cake flour is finer and will produce a tender soft tender crumb. This flour was specifically chosen for the recipe. The results will not be as intended if all-purpose flour is used. You are welcome to use my homemade cake flour instead.

Room temperature ingredients: Use components that are at room temperature. Cold eggs will be difficult to thoroughly mix in and will cause the cake to be dense.

Properly measure: Measure the flour by lightly spooning it into the measuring cup then level the cup with the back of a knife. Alternatively, weight measurements might be used.

Don’t overbake: Begin checking the cake 5-7 minutes earlier than the cooking time specified. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake to test for doneness.

  • If the toothpick comes out with moist batter on it, the baking time should be increased.
  • If the toothpick comes out with a few wet crumbs, the cake is done and should be withdrawn from the oven.
  • If the toothpick comes out entirely clean, the cake has been overbaked and will be dry.

Baking Variations:

  • Bake the cake in 3 8-inch round pans for 15-25 minutes, 2 12-cup muffin pans for 15-18 minutes, or a 9×13-inch pan for around 30-35 minutes. If you wish to make changes other than these, please consult this guide for how to convert pan sizes .
  • By adding your preferred extract or essence, you may vary the taste of the cake.
  • This cake can be transformed into a Moist White Cake by using egg whites instead of whole eggs.

Make ahead tip

  1. Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Within two days, assemble and ice the cake.
  2. Alternatively, layers may 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.
  3. The frosting will keep in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 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.
  4. After assembling the cake, cover it and put it in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature just before serving.
  5. The frosted cake may be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving.
Nutrition Information:

Yield: 12
Serving Size: 12 servings
Amount Per Serving:
820 calories Saturated Fat: 27g 169mg cholesterol Sodium content: 186mg 103g carbohydrate 1g fiber 80g of sugar 6g protein

* Percent Daily Values are based on a diet of 2000 calories. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

You can just replace your regular flour with it and follow the rest of the recipe as you usually do. You may also use beaten egg whites instead of baking powder and soda to produce a light and airy texture for your cake. Whipping egg whites produces little air bubbles that contribute to the fluffiness of a cake.

Substitute each teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder in the recipe with 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) vinegar. Each teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder may be substituted with 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon vinegar.

Whipped Egg Whites
If you don’t have baking powder or baking soda on hand, this might be an excellent substitute. The quantity you should use varies depending on the recipe. Angel food cake, for example, may require up to 12 egg whites, while a batch of pancakes may only need two or three.

To make your own baking powder – some say with fewer metallic undertones than the commercial stuff – mix one part baking soda to one part cornstarch and two parts cream of tartar. As an example: 1 teaspoon homemade baking powder = 1/4 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar + 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch.

Unfortunately, flour cannot be used in lieu of baking powder. If the recipe asks for regular flour and baking powder, you may use self-raising flour. However, it is quite unlikely that this will operate as planned.

Contact Us

For more information or to make comments and suggestions, please contact:
Kurt Olsen
Dairy Development Coordinator, Missouri Department of Agriculture
Phone: (573) 291-5704
E-mail: [email protected]