Finally. The Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe.

I have a little confession to make: when I first started making cakes, my secret go-to for far too long was the box vanilla cake mix by Betty Crocker.

Phew. Now you know. 

Since I became accustomed to the light and fluffy texture of said box mix, every time I tried to make a vanilla cake from scratch, the result seemed off. Blame it on the lack of Propylene Glycol Mono (or the handful of other ingredients in box mixes that you’ve never heard of), but my from-scratch vanilla cakes always ended up too dense, tasted a little cornbread-ish, and just didn’t have that fluffy appeal. Finding a go-to vanilla cake recipe from scratch felt like a mountain I had to climb, but after (what felt like) five hundred tries and a whole lot of not giving up, I’ve found a recipe that is beyond my wildest cake dreams. 

vanilla cake recipe from scratchThis vanilla cake is light and airy, so easy to whip up, and tastes like a dream. The secret to it’s perfect texture is the cake flour, which produces a much softer, fluffier cake than all-purpose because of it’s lower protein content (the more protein in your flour the stiffer the dough and less ability to maintain moisture). You can find cake flour at most grocery stores, but if all you’ve got is all-purpose flour in your pantry, here are instructions for how to make your own cake flour in a pinch.

best vanilla cake recipe from scratch

from scratch vanilla cake recipe by sugar and sparrow

To make this cake even more moist I’ve added a little sour cream and whole eggs for good measure. There’s also an entire tablespoon of vanilla extract in there to really up the flavor, because yum. It pairs well with so many buttercream flavors, but if you want to keep things on the vanilla spectrum, try pairing it with this Vanilla Buttercream Recipe. It does not disappoint! 

vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream recipe

vanilla cake recipe by sugar and sparrow

I whipped up a video to show you the process of making this vanilla cake recipe and share my favorite baking tips for success. Take a look before you dive in:

Update 2019: I’ve changed the measurements in the recipe below to make exactly enough batter for three 6-inch cake pans or two 9-inch cake pans. I always do triple 6-inch layers when making cakes (I like ‘em tall!), and since I get so many questions on how to convert the original recipe into three 6-inch layers I thought I’d just do the math for you. So same great recipe, with the most requested amount of batter! 

vanilla cake recipe from scratch
4.7 from 26 votes

Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe

An easy vanilla cake recipe that's light, fluffy, and flavorful. It's got the perfect texture you'll find from box cake mixes, without all the ingredients you can't pronounce. 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 2 3/4 Cups (290g) cake flour, sifted before measuring
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 Cup (358g) granulated white sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (112g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 Cup (296ml) whole milk, room temperature


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 6-inch or two 9-inch cake pans by spraying the sides with a cooking spray (Baker's Joy is my favorite) and a wax paper circle fitted to the bottom of the pan. Alternatively, you can grease and lightly flour the pans. 

  2. Sift the cake flour and then measure by spooning and leveling it in your measuring cup. Add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. 

  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer (a handheld mixer works fine too!), cream the butter for on high for two minutes until it's light and fluffy. Add in sugar and continue to mix on high for another two minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix for one minute on high, scraping down the bowl and paddle once more. 

  4. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the milk slowly and mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give it a few stirs to make sure there are no lumps (without over-mixing). The batter will be slightly thick, but pourable. 

  5. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans (no more than 2/3 of the way full) and bake for 30-35 minutes. They're done when they spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for five minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack for an additional few hours of cooling. Make sure they're entirely room temperature before applying any frosting. 

Recipe Notes

*DIY Cake Flour Recipe: To make your own cake flour, spoon and level one cup of all-purpose flour and remove 2 Tbsp. Add 2 Tbsp of cornstarch. Repeat per the amount of cake flour you need, then sift the flour and cornstarch mixture 4 times (don't skip that step!)After sifting, spoon and level to re-measure the amount of cake flour you need. 

Make ahead tip: These cakes can be baked, cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap, and left out at room temperature up to two days ahead of decorating. Unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to two months before thawing and frosting. 


  1. Your tips and tricks are the best! It’s like you know the questions I would ask before I ask them! You have the gift of teaching and a huge talent for creating!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, Megan! I’m so happy to be able to share all of this with you!

  2. 5 stars
    Hallo Whitney,
    I like your Blog!!!! I am from Berlin. Please, how big (ml) is one cup? Wir have another cups in Europa.
    Thank you very much
    You inspire me

    • Hi Elena! Thanks so much for the kind words about my blog and I’m so happy you’re inspired! I just looked up the conversion from cups to ml online and it appears that 1 cup = 236.6ml. Hope that helps!

  3. Hey!
    This recipe is so yummy and!!
    I was just wondering how many times the recipe you’d need to make this cake for around 100-160 people (5 inch tall tiers) ahah I’m being ambitious and making this for my 21st birthday! eeeekkk

    • Hi Laura! Wow, you’re really going all out for your birthday! I applaud your ambition 🙂 This recipe serves 12 comfortably, so if you’re thinking about serving 100 or so, here’s what I would do:

      1.5x this recipe makes a 6 inch diameter, 5 inch tall cake. 2x this recipe would make a 8 inch diameter, 5 inch tall cake. And 3x the recipe makes a 12 inch diameter, 5 inch tall cake. Three tiers in those dimensions would serve 100-115. That would mean 7x the recipe total. Phew.

      • 5 stars
        Thank you so much Whitney! You are amazing! and yes very ambitious ahah lets hope it all goes to plan and my Australian ingredients don’t mess with this gorgeous recipe! xx 🙂

      • Hello Whitney

        Thanks for this recipe, Am thrilled with the idea of making this cake.. Quick question though, can I use margarine instead of butter in this receipe?

        Thank again

        • Hi Cordelia! I’m excited for you to make this cake! I can’t recommend substituting the butter for margarine just because I’ve never tried it before and don’t know how it will turn out. I hear that you can substitute butter with margarine in baking though, so it might be worth a try. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this today and it came out soooo well (despite me forgetting to add the milk into the cake mixture!!) – the cake is moist and delicious, you can really taste the vanilla, it’s lovely and solid and has smooth outsides perfect for decorating. Thank you so much!!!

    • Yay Lia!! I am so happy to hear that you loved the recipe 🙂 Can’t wait to see how you decorate!

  5. Pingback: Rainbow Funfetti Cake Recipe - Sugar & Sparrow

  6. 5 stars
    Hi Whitney !
    I live in Spain and we don’t have sour cream. What do you recommend I can substitute the sour cream with?

    Thank you!

    I love your blog!!

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe, Whitney! I’m from Brazil!
    I’ve never bake a cake like this and I’d like to start with a 4 inch on.
    How many layers of cake should I use?
    If do you use 4 layers with 4 inch each this recipe have a perfect size right?

    • Hi Lana! For four inch cakes, I typically use three layers but have used four layers for taller designs. It’s totally up to you! When using a 4 inch pan, this recipe yields 8 layers of cake, so you could easily choose the perfect amount of layers after they’re baked.

  8. Nagina Khalid

    5 stars
    Hello Whitney! I just wanted to ask a question based upon I use springform cake pans and I was wondering how could I adjust this recipe to create two 10” cake, which I will cut into 2 which will become a 4 layer cake?

    Thank you x

    • Hi Nagina! I have never made this cake in a taller cake pan (mine have 2 inch sides), so I am not sure how the baking times will be affected. I would definitely triple the recipe to accommodate that amount of cake batter, but you’ll need to bake them for longer than the recipe specifies since there will be more volume of cake batter in the oven. How long do you usually bake cakes of that size? I would set the timer for however long you’re used to with those pans and keep an eye on the cakes to make sure they don’t cook for too little or too long.

  9. Jasmine Readon

    5 stars
    I want to thank you for sharing this recipe! I have been looking for a GREAT vanilla cake recipe and this was it! I made this for a thanksgiving party and paired it with a Hershey milk chocolate buttercream and it was gone before everybody got a chance to get a piece
    I must admit I did make 2 changes, I used buttermilk instead and added an extra tbsp of vanilla.
    Everyone LOVED it! Thank you once again for sharing this amazing recipe!

    • Hi Jasmine! I’m SO happy to hear that this was a hit!! Glad you loved the recipe and consider it a great one. I’ll have to try it with the buttermilk and extra vanilla! Thanks for letting me know!

  10. Nicola Straker

    Hi there
    I love the sound of this recipe. My twins have asked for a unicorn cake (one each) for their birthday. It has a fondant unicorn head on the front. As I’m making 2 cakes I want to make two quite small ones (to prevent waste) with a bit of height to accommodate the unicorn head, so multiple layers will be required. Any help on how to adapt this recipe would be very much appreciated (tins cooking times etc). The smallest tins I have are quite high sided 6inch tins but I could buy 5 inch. Many thanks. Nicola.

    • Hi Nicola! This cake recipe works well with smaller sized pans. Although I’ve successfully made it with 4 inch pans, 6 inch pans, and as cupcakes, I’ve never tried it with a taller sided cake pan, so I have no idea what the baking time would be. For the 6 inch pans (2 inch tall sides), I baked for 40 minutes. I would be sure to fill the pan no more than 2/3 full and check it at 40-50 minutes to see if it needs more time for the taller sides. The reason the 8 inch pans need less baking time is because the layers aren’t as tall as my 6 inch pan.

      • Nicola Straker

        Many thanks. Looks like my pans are 3 inches high so hopefully that won’t make too much difference to baking
        times. Will let you know how I go!

        • Oh perfect! For some reason I read that as you having a pan with 6 inch tall sides 🙂 For a 6 inch cake with 3 inch sides, just check it at 40 min and gauge whether or not you need more time. My estimate would be about 50 min total, but let me know how it goes!

  11. Hi there! So excited to try this recipe! I plan on using a 6″ cake pan – does this recipe still yield two 6″ cakes? Just with longer cook time? If I want a 3 layer cake, am I going to have to make another half recipe? Thank you so so much! Your directions are so helpful! 🙂

    • Hi Catie! So excited for you to try this recipe too! It will yield two 6 inch cakes as is (bake for about 40 minutes), or if you want a third layer you can 1.5 the recipe. If you eliminate the sprinkles from this funfetti cake recipe the measurements for a 3 layer 6-inch cake are perfect (it’s the same vanilla cake recipe, only with sprinkles added at the end):

  12. Chad E Peterson

    5 stars
    Another great one, thank you! I too have been looking everywhere for a good light and fluffy vanilla cake and this fits the bill. This is the third this month from your blog and all have been fantastic. The cake sank slightly while cooking but after leveling it off it turned out great, I might of opened the oven to check at the wrong time or maybe because I used 6″ silicone pans, I never know why it sometimes sinks. I did your buttercream but added a little passionfruit concentrate for flavor and was awesome.

    • Hi Chad! I’m so happy that these recipes are working well for you! The addition of passionfruit to the buttercream sounds heavenly. I’m gonna have to try that! And about the sinking – I’ve never tried silicone baking pans so that could be it, but also opening the oven door before the batter is set can cause a cake to sink slightly. Not entirely sure what happened but I’m glad it was perfect when you leveled it!

    • Hi, I see this recipe makes 3 – 6 inch layers but how can I adapt it to 3- 8 inch and 10 inch layers pls?

      • Hi Eveline! For three 8-inch layers I would 1.5x the recipe, and for three 10-inch cake layers I would double the recipe.

  13. Looks divine! I will try this recipe next as the last recipe I tried turned out way too dense . Would it be okay to substitute the butter with vegetable oil? Or even half butter, half oil? If will it be the same measurements? Also would this recipe work well with cake strips? Thank you!

    • Hi Roxane! I haven’t tried this recipe substituting the butter with vegetable oil before, so I can’t recommend it. This recipe is really light, fluffy, and flavorful as-is. And yes, you can totally use bake strips with this cake recipe. I hope you love it!

  14. Omgosh! I have made vanilla cakes and they all taste like cornbread:( Im so excited to make this!!!!!!! But, can i use ap flor instead of cake flour? Would therr be any difference?

    • Hi Iris! I can’t wait for you to try this recipe! The reason it calls for cake flour is because that’s what makes it soft and fluffy – all purpose flour tends to make vanilla cake dense and cornbread-y in my experience, so I wouldn’t recommend substituting the cake flour with all purpose. You can make your own cake flour in a pinch if you can’t find it at your grocery store. The recipe is in the notes section of the recipe.

    • Hi Dora! I have never tried the recipe with yogurt as a sour cream substitute, but I think as long as you go with a full fat yogurt you should be alright. The purpose of the sour cream is to add extra moisture, and only a full fat substitute will do that.

  15. Jasmine Readon

    5 stars
    Hi Whitney! It’s Jasmine again‍♀️. I hope all is well with you! I wanted to ask if by any chance you know how many cups of batter the recipe makes? I am making cake pops 2 different ways (in the cake pop maker and old fashion mush and squish ) and cupcakes but it is a very small quantity that I need. I was thinking of making one batch of batter and splitting it between all 3 treats.

    • Hi Jasmine, I don’t know how many cups of batter this recipe makes, but I’m sure one batch will accommodate all of those treats. If you want to make absolute sure that you have enough, you can always make this version that is 1.5x the batter (same recipe, just omit the sprinkles) to have a little bit more:

  16. Helllooo there! I was wondering how many batches I would need to make a two tier cake? The bottom needs to be an 8 inch round and 3 layers and the top tier is a 6 inch round also 3 layers

      • Hi Jillian! For a two tier cake of that size, I would triple the recipe. That’ll give you a little bit extra batter, but it’s better to have a little more than you need than a little less. These cakes do bake relatively flat, but I always use a cake leveler after baking them to make sure each layer is perfectly even. Hope that helps!

  17. I just made this cake and i’m quite pleased with it! The layers baked up perfectly, its got good flavor without being TOO sweet. It is a smidge on the dense side, but i really think i should have baked it a few minutes longer, which probably would have helped. I’ll try that the next time. Overall, i think i may have found my new go-to recipe. Also, this post is how i found sugar&sparrow, i’m enjoying exploring.

  18. Vicky Adjei

    Hi, I’m Vicky and new to baking. I’m eager to make this cake for my lil girl’s 3rd birthday…but I’d like the cake to be 8inches wide and stacked up three levels with butter cream in between. I read from the comments that I may have to double all my ingredients. Will I have to double the creaming time too? Say from 2 mins to 4 mins? And will I have to double the recipe for the butter cream too?

    • Hi Vicky! For a three later 8-inch cake, I would 1.5 the recipe. It’s the same recipe and measurements as my funfetti cake recipe, only don’t add sprinkles into the batter at the end (unless you want to!). You’ll find all the instructions and measurements you need here:

      You will have to double the amount of buttercream to fill and frost a cake, unless it’s part of a recipe that specifies that it’s meant to fill and frost a cake of that size. Hope that helps!

  19. Hannah Liz

    Hey Whitney! I was super excited to try this receipe (and the batter was delicious!) but things didn’t go as planned. About 20 min into baking the pans completely overflowed. I used two 9×1.5 in cake pans. Do I need taller? My oven is also pretty old, so perhaps that factored into the issue. Any idea where I might’ve gone wrong? I’d like to try it again!

    • Hi Hannah! So sorry to hear that your cake pans overflowed! The pans I use are a little over 2 inches deep, I’m sure the shorter pan has something to do with it. I would recommend only filling a pan of that depth 1/2 full instead of 2/3 full. Let me know how it goes next time and I hope these ones can be salvaged!

  20. Hi, Whitney.
    Thanks. I have a question
    Doesn’t this cake need any egg?
    Thank you for responding.

  21. Hi Whitney,
    If I want to make 2 or 3 layers, but only have 1 9″ pan, will the batter be okay sitting out while the first layer bakes and cools, or is it meant to go in the oven right away after mixing?


    • Hi Heather, the batter is totally ok sitting out at room temperature while the other layers bake. I do that all the time. Just be sure to cover your mixing bowl with a cloth or paper towel while the other layers are baking.

  22. Hello! This looks so delicious! I’d like to make this cake with 6 inch diameter pans (each pan has 3 inch tall sides) to make a more narrow and tall cake with three layers. Would you recommend increasing the recipe or changing the baking time if I did this? Thanks!

  23. Hey can you please tell the substitute for eggs in this recipe..please

    • Hi, Meenu! Unfortunately, I’ve never made an eggless version of this recipe, so I can’t recommend a substitute. I would either find an eggless vanilla cake recipe to try or do some searching to see what is most commonly recommended for substituting eggs in a cake recipe.

  24. Julissa

    I just tried your recipe and it is the perfect vanilla cake recipe, it’s the recipe I’ve been looking for! Thank you

  25. Jessica

    Hi Whitney! I would like to make this recipe for my friends sons birthday party, but I was asked to make 2 dozen cupcakes and a large cake. I was planning on doubling the recipe for the cake (I will be using a 14×2 in square pan), but do u think I should double the cupcakes as well? Also, what do u think the baking times should be for the cupcakes and the cake? Thank you, Jess

    • Hi Jessica! The instructions for using this recipe as cupcakes is here: and it yields 24 cupcakes. I’ve never made this recipe in that large of a pan, so I would recommend using a flower nail or heating core to make sure everything bakes evenly. If it’s going to be a one layer cake, I would use the recipe ratios as-is and check the cake at 40 minutes to see if it needs more time than that. If it’s going to be two layers, I would double the recipe. I hope that helps!

  26. Hi, Just wondering, how many batches will i need to make 100 serves?

  27. Hi Jess, this cake recipe serves 12 comfortably, so you’d need to make about 8 batches to serve 100.

  28. 5 stars
    I wanted to try out this recipe beforehand for my daughter’s first birthday. So I halved your recipe (to make one 9” round) and used your DIY cake flour recipe. I also used your basic vanilla buttercream to frost. It turned out amazing! So I’ll definitely use this for her birthday cake! I will buy some cake flour though bc sifting was too much for me HA! Thanks for this simple and easy recipe!

    • That’s so wonderful to hear, Rekha!! I’m so happy you love the recipe and happy first birthday to your daughter!!

  29. Sharmila

    Hi Whitney,
    Do you think I could use eggs replacer in this recipe to get similar results?

    And….have you got any tips for eggless/vegan cakes please?
    Thank you so much for sharing your tips.

    • Hi Sharmila! I’ve never tried egg replacers with any of my recipes so I can’t say for sure how it will turn out. Someday I hope to try making vegan cake recipes but until then I don’t have any tips myself! I’ve heard a LOT of great things about Minimalist Baker’s vegan cake recipes though, so I’d give some of those a try:

  30. Iovanah Fielding

    Hi Whitney. Just wondering if it’s ok to use self raising flour instead of plain with soda, powder and salt? Thank you. :0)

    • Hi Lovanah! I don’t use self-rising flour because it doesn’t have the low protein content of cake flour and has additives like baking powder (hence the term self rising). If you substitute self-rising flour, it would add too much leavening agent to this recipe which would actually make it sink in the middle once you bake it. Instead, I recommend store bought cake flour, or if you don’t have that on hand, you can convert all-purpose flour into cake flour using this recipe:

  31. Hi Whitney,

    I was just wondering how to ensure the sides of the cakes don’t get too dark? I’ve noticed from following a lot of Instagram bakers that the sides of their vanilla cakes are not much darker than the rest of the cake. I made your funfetti cake for my daughters birthday which was delicious but the sides of the cake were quite dark and a bit over cooked even though I only kept them in the oven long enough to be cooked properly in the middle.

    Thanks heaps

    • Hi Renee! The only reason that the sides might get darker is if your oven temp is actually hotter than what the display reads. This cake (which is the same recipe as the funfetti cake minus the sprinkles) should only get golden brown on the edges and top when it’s done cooking. You can buy an oven thermometer to read the actual temp and adjust accordingly.

    • Hi Mel! I’ve actually never tried this as a 9 x 13 sheet cake, so I’m not sure how it will turn out but my hunch is that it will work. Just make sure to fill the pan no more than 1/2 full, bake at 350, and check it at 35 minutes to see if it needs longer. Let me know how it turns out!

  32. Hi, This was my first time making a cake and I ended up using this recipe. The cake turned out amazing!
    I can’t wait to try it again
    The steps were very easy to follow
    And I will definitely try some of your other cakes
    Thanks so much

  33. I made birthday cake following all the parts of the recipe including vanilla Butter cream frostin. It was great,just felt little too adjust that what should i do?

    • Hi Atiya! Glad you loved the recipe! If you want to reduce the sweetness in the cake, you can reduce the amount of white granulated sugar to 1 1/2 Cups. If you want to reduce the amount of sweetness in the frosting, you can either use salted butter instead of unsalted, or add a little more salt at the end. You can also try reducing the amount of powdered sugar by 1/2 Cup but it will be less thick.

  34. Hi, I just randomly found this recipe on Instagram and am so excited to try it out. I was wonder, since the recipe uses cake flour, does that mean the sponge will be a little softer than other normal sponge cakes? Will it be stable enough to stake and add fondant figurines on top of the cake? Thanks!

    • Hi Kim! Happy you found this recipe – it’s one of my all time faves! The sponge of this cake is soft and fluffy, but it’s definitely stable enough to stack and add fondant figures to the top. I’ve done that many times before 🙂 Enjoy!

  35. Hi Whitney 🙂 I am going to use this recipe tonight and cant wait! I only have 7″ tins and I would like to for 5/6 layers? should I double the recipe? Also – I have a fan assisted oven, would you lower the temp in degrees Celsius?

    thank you so much 🙂

    • Hi Emily! For 5-6 layers in a 7 inch cake pan I would double the recipe. You’ll have just enough for that amount! And as far as a fan assisted oven, I’ve never used one but I read online that the oven temp should be adjusted downward by 20ºC. Hope that helps!

  36. hi! Do you know how tall 3 layers of the 6″ round cake ends up being? Need to bake for a friend and would love to know so I can get an appropriate cake box would be a travesty to make such a pretty cake and not be able to transport!

  37. I’ve just found this recipe- and have used it twice already for birthdays! It is delicious!
    Thank you so much for all the tips and tricks- you make understanding the recipe very easy!

    • Hi Jennifer! That is so wonderful to hear! I’m glad the recipe is a hit and you’ve found a good go-to 🙂

  38. Hi I followed your recipe but my cake batter curdled and when baked the cake was very greasy. What am I doing wrong?

    • Hi Lisa! That’s interesting, I’ve never had or heard of issues with this cake batter curdling. Did you substitute any ingredients?

  39. Hi! Will this recipe work with the Cup 4 cup flour for a gluten free cake? Thank you!

    • Hi Irene! I’m not entirely sure since I’ve never tried gluten free baking. I would research the kind of flour you’re wanting to use to see if it’s a cup for cup substitution. It should say on the package of GF flour, so I would just go with what the brand recommends.

  40. Hello! I have followed your blog and have made quite a few cakes following your recipes. They have all turned out to be delicious! But every time I make the vanilla cake the tops are a little sticky. Is that normal? If not what can I do to fix it. I have followed the recipe as is and no substitutions.

    • Hi Divya! So happy you’ve been loving my recipes. A sticky cake top is typically caused by wrapping the cake for storage before it’s completely cooled. The fix is simple – let the cakes cool completely without wrapping them and use them right away once they’re room temperature. Or you can do what I do: cut off the cake tops with a cake level before filling and stacking them.

  41. I’ve been set the task by my daughter to make one of your cakes for her birthday this weekend! 🙂 I wanted to check it’s definitely granulated sugar (does it not make it grainy?), as I’d usually use caster sugar in my cakes. Thanks. 🙂 x

    • Hi Rachael! So excited for you to make this cake! I always use granulated white sugar in my cakes and they’ve never tasted grainy after baking (the heat from the oven melts it evenly as the cake bakes). I’ve never tried using caster sugar, but from what I’ve read it’s the same white sugar, only ground a little more fine, and you can substitute it in recipes that call for granulated. I hope this recipe is a hit for your daughter’s birthday!

  42. Susan Lehner

    Do you think this cake with stand up ok to a marscapone strawberry filling? I’m worried that if it is too delicate it may not hold up to the potential moisture of the strawberry filling….

    • Hi Susan! I have never tried marscapone filling before but I have a friend who uses it with my vanilla cake recipe all the time! If you’re worried about the filling being too liquid you can always pipe a stiffer buttercream dam around the edge of the cake to ensure that the layer above won’t squish the filling out.

  43. Susan lehner

    5 stars
    Lovely cake—it was a hit with 30 party goers. I do have a question. My cake turned out a bit dense, very delicious but not light and fluffy. I followed the recipe to a “t”…do you think the wrapping/refrigeration of it made it “dense up”? What would attribute to the density?

    • So happy the recipe was a hit, Susan! The cake being dense could definitely be from wrapping the cake layers and storing them in the refrigerator (if that’s how you stored them before decorating). I always store mine at room temperature and wrap them only after they’re totally cooled. A dense cake could be the result of overmixing as well, but if you followed the recipe exactly it sounds like you shouldn’t have a problem there.

  44. I have been asked to make a rainbow Spider-Man cake for a kids birthday, would I need to double this recipe to make 6 or 7 layers of rainbow colours or would that recipe amount be enough to seperate add each different colour and make several smaller cakes for the layers?? Also is self raising flour ok to use rather than all purpose and baking powder?

    Thanks kindly

    • Hi Cassie! Doubling this recipe will give you exactly six 6-inch layers. You’d need to mix the food coloring in to each separate pan to make each one a different color. I do not recommend self rising flour because it has too much leavening agent added (hence the term self rising!) and will cause the cake to sink in the middle since it already has just the right amount of leavening between the baking powder and baking soda. If you substitute it for anything, I would use this homemade cake flour recipe since cake flour is what makes this cake so light and fluffy:

  45. Hi Whitney. Can I use evaporated milk in place of whole milk? Due to lactose intolerance, we never buy whole milk or any other (except for soy or almond milk).

    I just recently discovered your blog and I’m really enjoying it. All your cakes look so “glamorous” – – – bet you have not had that adjective used for your cakes. :-). I’ll be trying some of your recipes real soon. I’m buying a cake turntable and leveler to get ready for layering and frosting cakes. I’m more of a cupcake/cookie/bars baker but you’ve inspired me to start baking cakes. Thank you very much for all your tips and recipes.

    • Hi Amparo! Thanks so much for your kind words about my cakes 🙂 I’ve never tried substituting the whole milk with evaporated milk before, but from what I’ve read online it looks like you can do a straight substitution for baking! Let me know how it goes!

  46. Hi, I made this recipe and it turned out amazing! So delicious! Just wondering if the batter divide evenly between 3 8 inch tins!

  47. Hi! I’ve tried this recipe before and loved it! Now, I want to make it into a 9×13 sheet cake, would I need to adjust measurements?

    • Awesome, Isabel! So happy you love the recipe! You can bake this in a 9×13 sheet pan as-is. Just be sure to fill the pan no more than 1/2 full and check it at 40-45 minutes for doneness.

  48. 5 stars
    I used this recipe for my husbands birthday cake and it was a hit!! Now attempting the unicorn cake as requested by my 3 year old for her birthday!

  49. Hi Whitney, Greetings from Australia, Could you tell me how long to bake this recipe if I use 2-9″pans.

  50. Tracy Conod

    Hi Whitney, I’m in the uk so normally weigh ingredients so I followed instructions to make the cake flour (thanks so much) but the weight of 3 3/4 Cups was hitting 498g not 398g. My dilemma was do I put in 398g or use the cup measurements. The cup I was using was marked as holding 236.64g

    • Hi Tracy! That’s an excellent question, because I didn’t account for All Purpose flour weighing more than pure Cake Flour (and the homemade cake flour is made from All Purpose!). Even so, use the 398g measurement that the recipe calls for. Hope you love this recipe!

  51. Hi Whitney!

    I’ve followed this recipe to a T a few times and the layers were dense, not fluffy. Do you know any idea why? I don’t think I overmixed it.

    I love your other recipes, though! Thanks so much!!

    • Hi Diana! It’s hard to say why the cake turned out dense without observing how long you mixed, what temp your ingredients were at, etc. The number one reason for dense cakes is over-mixing the batter, but it could also be caused by baking powder that is expired (it loses its freshness 6 months after opening), oven temp that is too low, and ingredients that are not room temp/improperly brought to room temp. Here’s a video I made to explain how I make this recipe with tips for success:

      • Thank you so much for responding! The only thing I can think of is the oven temperature. I have a convection oven feature and I baked them at 325 degrees as opposed to 350 degrees using a regular oven feature. I will try 350 degrees the next time!

  52. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe. I told a chance and doubled it for two 10 inch cakes. Amazing amazing amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us and in such detail!!

  53. Someone Has probably already asked but what could you use instead of the half cup sour cream preferably if it’s a dairy free alternative thank you so much

    • Hi Michael! The purpose of the sour cream is to add extra moisture, and I usually recommend full fat greek yogurt as a substitute. I’ve never tried a dairy-free option before, but after a quick Google search it looks like there might be vegan soy-based sour creams that would make a good substitute. I can’t highly recommend it since I’ve never tried it before, but it sounds like an option worth trying. Hope that helps!

  54. Dana Karpinski

    I cannot wait to make this cake for my grandson’s birthday! He’s 5. My cake pans are 8″ and I would like to use 3 ….. I too like a tall cake. Should I 1.5 the recipe? I do not have any 6″ pans at the moment! I LOVE your cakes, they are so elegant and gorgeous. I too grew up LOVING cakes! I hope to learn more about all the cool things you can do with icing. I am not really into fondant cakes, so when I stumbled on your sight, I was amazed! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Hi Dana! So excited for you to make this cake for your grandson! My funfetti cake recipe is the same as this vanilla cake recipe (just omit the sprinkles), and it makes enough for 3 8-inch layers: if you want four 8-inch layers to make the cake extra tall, I’d say double this vanilla cake recipe. Hope you love this cake!

  55. Christiane

    Dear Whitney, I only have one cake pan. Do you think it’s OK if I cook 1/3 of the batter and keep the remaining at room temp until the pan is free again? Thank you for your blog 🙂 I am from Belgium and flat you put everything in grams too 🙂

    • Hi Christiane! You can keep the batter at room temp, covered, while the layers are baking. Hope you love this recipe!

  56. My 6 year old daughter had a hard day at school and came home saying “Can we bake a cake? Baking always makes me feel better.” She picked this recipe based on the photos, and OMG am I glad we tried this! I love baking and have tried several different recipes for vanilla cake, and this is beyond the best one I have ever tried. It is amaaaaazing! Thanks to this cake, her day turned around!!!

    • I am so happy to hear that, Sarah! And that’s so cool that your daughter recognizes a love for baking at such a young age! Glad it was a hit and brought some joy to her day (and yours too!).

  57. 5 stars
    DElicious! The crumb was tender. I made 3 six inch cakes, and wrapped each cake pans with cake strips. After baking, I weighed each cake pan with batter to 18 oz. for even layers. I was able to get 2 cupcakes with the left over batter. I’m really glad the recipe comes out with more batter because this gives me a chance to taste the cake. SO HAPPY this is another winner from Sugar & Sparrow!

  58. Jennifer Herman

    Hello! I would love to make this as a peanut butter flavored cake, any ideas on how to incorporate the peanut butter? Thank you! Making the vanilla as well for top tier.

  59. I’m planning on making this cake for a friend this Valentines Day! Do you have a tutorial on how to decorate the cake like yours? I’m going to use your vanilla cake and buttercream recipe and I would love to decorate how you did as well!

    Thank you!

    • Hi Evette! I don’t have a tutorial on this particular cake design, but it’s basically just an ombre finish with swirls on top piped with Wilton Tip 4B, then sprinkled with the Sprinkle Pop “Hey Sugar” sprinkle mix. I used Americolor Fuschia for the pink color. Here’s a blog post that shows how to create an ombre buttercream finish, only use a color palette of Fuschia, White, and those two colors mixed together for the middle tone:

  60. Hi
    I want to give this a try for my twin nieces birthday – specifically your fault line cake! Have just bought two 6″ deep tins. Would the original quantity work? if I left it for around 45 mins and should I keep the oven temp the same?

    Thank you

    • Hi Lindsey! I’ve never baked this cake recipe (or any cake recipe!) in a pan deeper than 2 inches, so I’m no expert on deep dish cakes or how to alter this recipe to work for a deeper pan. From what I’ve researched about deep dish pans, it sounds like it’s not a good idea unless you’re baking a cake with a dense crumb (like a fruit cake). Since this recipe is meant to be light and fluffy, it may not end up that way if baked in a deep pan. If you want to give it a go though, all the Googling I’ve done says to lower the oven temp and bake for longer, so maybe try 300 degrees for an hour or more. Let me know if you end up trying it, I’m curious as to how it will turn out!

  61. Thank you for replying and so promptly!
    Going to give it a try tomorrow, so I’ll let you know how it goes. x

  62. Priyanka

    The cake looks so divine:) feel like trying the recipe. Can I know if I can substitute all purpose flour for cake flour?? Or does the recipe stick to cake flour only?? Request you to help me with that??

    • Thanks, Priyanka! Can’t wait for you to try it! Since the cake flour is what makes this recipe light and fluffy, my best recommendation is to make a homemade version of cake flour using all purpose flour (recipe here: If you don’t have corn starch handy, you can use straight all purpose flour but be sure to sift it a few times. It may end up being a little more dense than if you used cake flour but will be tasty nonetheless!

  63. This is going to be my cake for this birthday weekend! I only have light brown sugar on hand, would that work instead of white granulated sugar?

    • Hi Priya! I’ve never tried a cake recipe with all brown sugar before. I know that the added molasses will give the cake more of a caramel taste and add moisture, but I’m not sure how the texture of the crumb will be affected. Let me know if you try it and happy birthday weekend!

  64. Benazir Raziq

    I am a big fan of your beautiful creations! To start with, Shall I cut each ingredient to half so that I dont end up in eating a Big cake? I am the beginner inspired by ur work. What OTG or Oven mode you use to bake basic cake? Thanks in advance

  65. Gianmarco

    5 stars
    What can i do if I don’t have sour cream? It’s almost impossible to find it in my country

    • Hi Gianmarco! The purpose of the sour cream is to add extra moisture, and from my own experience the best substitutes for it are either 1) full-fat plain greek yogurt or 2) omit the sour cream and use buttermilk in place of the whole milk.

  66. 5 stars
    Hi Whitney – I’ve made this cake twice now and everyone loves it. The only thing is that both times when adding the milk in the recipe the batter has curdled slightly. It doesn’t seem to have affected the taste but I was wondering if you have any idea why this happens?

    • Hi Elissa! Is the milk room temperature when you add it? If it’s even slightly colder than the rest of the ingredients, it will curdle the fat solids in the recipe. Ingredient temp and milk freshness are the only things I can think of that would curdle this recipe – it’s crucial that all dairy ingredients are room temp. I’m glad it’s been turning out well despite the curdling though!

      • Thanks for your reply Whitney. I did leave the milk out for an hour or so but perhaps it still was too cold (it’s Winter here).
        I’m making the cake again for a birthday this weekend so will make sure I leave it out a little longer.

  67. Heather

    Hi Whitney,
    I love this recipe! I make it all the time!! My question for you is that I noticed in the video the prepared round pans are placed on a baking sheet. Is that what do you suggest? I have not tried that yet.

    • Hi Heather! In the video I was just using the baking sheet to carry all three tins to the oven. I don’t bake the cakes on top of the baking sheet (sorry for the confusion!) so I just recommend placing the tins on the top rack in your oven. Sometimes I will place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any overflow if I’m trying a new recipe and am unsure of how it will rise though!

  68. 2 stars
    Unfortunately, we did not like this cake. It was dry and there was too much salt.

    • Hi Ayesha, that’s interesting that the cake tasted salty. I’ve never heard of that happening before. Did you by chance use salted butter instead of unsalted butter?

  69. Hi Whitney, I love your cakes and recipes and just made the vanilla cupcakes today. I love the recipe and was going to try the cakes next. Could I put vanilla bean into the recipe? Would it change how much extract I use? Thanks so much for being such an inspiration to a fairly new baker!

    • Hi Cheryl! Thanks for the kind words and I’m so happy you’ve been loving my vanilla cupcake recipe! Although I’ve never tried it before, you can use a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. From a quick Google search it looks like 1 vanilla bean is equal to 3 tsp of vanilla extract.

    • Hi Aleena! A better substitute for the sour cream would be full fat greek yogurt, but if you want to use buttermilk in this recipe, you can omit the sour cream and use buttermilk in place of the whole milk.

  70. Hi Whitney! I was just reading your reply above and I am making sure. I always make cakes as you do: 3 6″ layers and I also love tall cakes. So, if I want to use buttermilk in this recipe, you say to omit the sour cream and use buttermilk in place of the whole milk. Just making sure. Also, to achieve 3 tall layers, I would make just a single recipe, not 1 1/2 recipes? Somewhere in this thread you also referenced your funfetti recipe; were you saying that this recipe and your funfetti are the same, just one has sprinkles and one doesn’t? Sorry for so many questions. Just looking for those 3 tall layers. Made your salted caramel buttercream today. Looking to make your vanilla cake soon and pair them. Hope all is well with you. 🙂

    • Hi Paula! To answer your questions: 1) yes, although I don’t recommend omitting the sour cream (because that’s the best way to make it extra moist), in a pinch you could omit the sour cream and sub buttermilk for the whole milk. It won’t be as moist as adding sour cream or even subbing that with full fat greek yogurt, but it’s the next best thing. 2) yes, to achieve three 6-inch layer that are roughly 2 inches tall, just keep this recipe as-is. If you look at the update disclaimer before the recipe, it explains that I changed the ingredient amounts to make just enough for three 6-inch layers or 2 9-inch layers. My funfetti recipe is the same, only with sprinkles added, and yields more batter (which is why the ingredient amounts are different).

      So happy you love the salted buttercream recipe and can’t wait for you to pair it with this vanilla cake!

      • Thank you so much for your response. I guess my issue is that I seem to always have sour cream and buttermilk on hand, I just don’t have whole milk. I’d like to keep the sour cream but if I don’t have the whole milk, would you recommend keeping the sour cream and using 2%, which is what I always have? Thank you!!!

          • You are so awesome in responding!!!! Thank you Whitney!!! <3

  71. Hi Whitney …. I’ve just found you on you tube and I think your cakes are fab. I live in wales in the UK. I would like to make this in 4 .. 7 inch pans , please could Tell me the recipe for this please … Diolch ( that’s thank you in welsh ) Karen x

    • Hi Karen! Thanks so much for your kind words. To make enough for four 7-inch pans, I would double this recipe if you want your layers to be about 2 inches tall. You might have some extra batter. If you want layers that are closer to 1.25 inches tall, you can use my funfetti cake recipe and omit the sprinkles (same recipe as my vanilla cake, only with sprinkles added and yields a little more batter):

  72. Hello Whitney,

    Can I please use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour? How will this affect the end result of the cake?

    Many thanks 🙂

  73. How many cups of batter does this recipe make? I am planning to make an ombré explosion cake and I need 6 layers about 1 cup per layer.

  74. Good Afternoon,
    I have just made this cake but the cake will very wet inside. I baked it for 30 mins – do you think it was maybe just under baked and should have been left in a little longer?

    • Hi Ashley! Yes, it sounds underbaked. Next time I would recommend inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s ready. If it’s got batter on it, you’ll need to bake it for an additional few minutes until the toothpick comes out clean.

  75. Francesca Maggio

    5 stars
    why is my cake always raw in the center? even after 50 minutes. do i have to raise the temperature?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Francesca! It sounds like your oven temp may be too low. This cake should only take 30-35 minutes to bake. Are you using a fan-assisted oven or conventional? And are you using pans that are deeper than 2 inches? If the cake pans are too deep it will take longer for the cake to bake and the oven temp might need to be altered to follow suit.

  76. Hi!

    Just wondering if the oven should be on fan forced or just normal top and bottom heating? And would the same temperature and time work for cupcakes if i tried this recipe?

    Also what can i use instead of cake flour?
    Can’t wait to try this!! 😀

  77. 5 stars
    Hi I love your recipe and how u explained everything… But can please tell me if you used medium size eggs or large eggs in your recipe.. this would be great to know as I’m testing recipes out at moment

  78. 4 stars
    I made two 8 inch cake pans,came out good but the only problem was the centre top was sticky and also i DIY cakeflour and used the exact measurements but my cake was way too soft and crumbly,while stacking when it was cooled, it cracked from the middle.
    Also,if i want to half the recipe should i use 2 eggs or 1 egg?

    • Hi Niharika! Sorry to hear that the cake crumbled. I’m not quite sure what went wrong there! Was the cake top sticky after cooling or when you took it out of the oven? If it was sticky when warm, the cake may have needed a few more minutes to bake. If it was sticky after cooling it, that can sometimes happen if you wrap the cakes before they’re completely cool (the condensation gets trapped underneath the wrap). To combat that, I would recommend cooling the layers unwrapped. If you want to half the recipe, use 1 egg + 1 egg yolk. To save you the math, here’s the same recipe halfed:

  79. Jessica Barnett

    5 stars
    Hi Whitney!

    Id like to make this cake for my son’s bday. I would like to use three 8 inch pans. I was thinking of making this recipe for 2 pans and then for the next pan just cut the recipe in half. Do you think that would work?


    • Hi Jessica! Yes, making 1.5x the recipe amount is correct! If you want to make it all in one go instead of dividing the recipe up into two sessions, you can just multiply each ingredient amount by 1.5 and you’ll have the perfect amount!

  80. Hi, I was wondering what type of 6 inch cake tin could I use? I’m thinking of buying this Wilton easy layers 6 inch cake tin? But I’m thinking they might not be deep enough? So how about Samuel 6 inch cake Victoria cake tin? I’m not sure let me know xx

    • Hi Sanah! The tins I use are 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. That said, I think the Wilton Easy Layers ones will be too shallow. I’ve never heard of the other brand you mentioned, but the exact tins I use are listed on this page: hope that helps!

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