This moist and tender Vanilla Dream Cake may only be 2 layers, but it’s so soft and fluffy, it’ll send you to cloud 9. The simplicity of this cake makes it the perfect light dessert to serve after a filling meal.
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Fluffy Vanilla Cake With Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
This vanilla dream cake really is the perfect dessert for any occasion. The airy, delicate texture of the layers and the subtle, elegant flavor of the vanilla make this a great cake for more formal events like graduations and fundraisers. But with its smooth vanilla buttercream, it’s also a yummy, uncomplicated crowd-pleaser. It fits in just as well at fun and playful events like birthdays and barbecues.
Dream cakes are known for their pillowy softness and moist layers, and this cake is the perfect example. The vanilla flavor in the batter and the buttercream frosting is sweet, subtle and simple. It’s everything a vanilla cake should be.
What is the Difference Between White Cake and Vanilla Cake?
All white cakes are vanilla cakes, but not all vanilla cakes can be called white cakes. This is because of a simple change in just one ingredient: eggs. A white cake is specifically a vanilla cake where the egg whites are used but the egg yolks are left out. This small change can make the color of your cake a purer white, but there’s also a subtle difference in the texture and flavor.
Since dream cake is meant to be moist and flavorful, leaving the egg yolks in is a must. It’s also true that white cakes often use oil instead of butter to keep the cake whiter, which further affects the taste and texture. You’ll notice that this dream cake uses both. The egg yolks and butter keep the layers wonderfully moist, fluffy, and flavorful.
Ingredients You’ll Need
With this classic cake, vanilla is the headliner, but there are a few other important ingredients to pull together. You can find the amounts for everything by scrolling down to the recipe card.
For the Cake
- Flour: Use all-purpose.
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda: Yes, you need both! Never substitute one for the other.
- Water: To dissolve the sugar and make the cake fluffier.
- Butter: Use unsalted. Changing the ratio of salt to baking soda can mess with the taste and texture.
- Vegetable Oil
- Vanilla Extract: Use clear vanilla for a whiter cake. Just note that the clear extract is a little less flavorful.
- Vanilla Bean: Open the pod to scrape out the seeds. This is where the flavor comes from.
- Eggs: Keep the yolks in.
For the Buttercream
- Butter: Let it sit until it reaches room temperature.
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
Which Vanilla is Best for Cake?
Clear or imitation vanilla extract can keep your cake and frosting whiter, but using it means sacrificing something in the taste department. Imitation vanilla works just as well in recipes where vanilla is only a small and subtle part of a more complex flavor profile. In this cake though, vanilla is the star of the show, and using the imitation instead of the real thing can make the experience a little lackluster.
Vanilla beans are pretty pricey, so if you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry. You can skip the vanilla bean and still end up with a moist and delicious cake. Just remember, if you’re not using the vanilla bean, it’s even more important that you use a good-quality natural vanilla extract.
How to Make Vanilla Cake From Scratch
This simple cake is easy to make, and whipping up the buttercream while it’s baking can help you save time. Follow these steps for a perfectly sweet and tender vanilla cake.
Make the Cake Layers
- Prep Your Materials: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spread butter or cooking spray on the inside of two round 8-inch cake pans. Set the pans aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Dissolve Sugar and Butter: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water and sugar. Bring the water to a simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves, which should take about 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and add your butter, stirring until it melts.
- Whisk It All Together: Let the water, sugar and butter mixture cool completely. This takes about 20 minutes in the fridge. Then whisk in vegetable oil, vanilla extract and the scrapings from the vanilla bean. Beat in the eggs. Whisk in the dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth.
- Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the greased pans and bake both layers for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let It Cool: Let both layers cool in pans until they feel cool to the touch. Make sure they’re cooled through before you start to frost.
Mix Up the Buttercream
- Mix: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it reaches a light and fluffy texture. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition.
- Beat in Vanilla and Milk: Increase the speed of your mixer to medium and add the vanilla extract. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting is too thick, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of milk.
assemble the Cake
- Stack: Put the first layer on a cake plate or another large, flat dish and spread a thick layer of frosting on top. Stack the second layer on top of the first and apply a thin crumb coat on the top and sides. Pop the cake into the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until the crumb coat hardens.
- Frost: Apply one final thick and even layer of buttercream around the outside of the cake.
Can I Make It Ahead of Time?
This cake is really easy to make in advance. Just wait for both layers of the cake to cool completely before wrapping them in plastic wrap and keeping them in the fridge along with the frosting. That way, when you’re ready to make the cake, all you have to do is stack, frost and serve!
Tips for Success
Making this cake is a breeze! Follow these quick tips to reach light, fluffy perfection.
- Temperature Matters: Be sure to leave your milk, eggs and butter out on the counter for half an hour or so before baking. You want everything to be at room temperature before it’s added. This is because baking is a chemical reaction. Ingredients that are too hot or cold can speed that reaction up or slow it down, which messes with your cake’s taste and texture.
- Spoon Out Your Flour: Too much flour can leave your cake dense and flat. Use a spoon to add flour to your measuring cups instead of scooping it up directly. That way, it doesn’t get packed down and overfilled. Level it off by sliding the back of a knife gently across the top.
- Check Your Baking Powder: The baking powder is what helps this cake to rise. If the batter doesn’t rise, then the cake will never reach its tender, fluffy potential. Make sure you check the expiration date of your baking powder before you use it.
One of the best things about this cake is its simplicity. Still, shaking things up can be exciting! Try some of these ideas to put your own twist on it.
- Experiment With Flavors: If you wanted to have some fun, you could always add a flavored fruit filling or put some almond extract into the buttercream. You could also switch it up and try another flavor or kind of frosting. Adding a flavored simple syrup to the tops of your cake layers can help them stay moist for longer and add a fun new element in the process.
- Dress It Up: Be creative! The cake in the images here has been bedazzled with confetti-colored sparkling sugar around the edges. More challenging ways to decorate include frosting flowers, honey or syrup drizzles, mirror glazes, and fun patterns made with scoring or piping tips. You can even use freshly cut flowers if you want something really fancy.
When wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in a sealable container, this cake can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days unless it’s hot enough where you live that the frosting starts to melt. If you still have some left over after that, you can stick it in the fridge for another 3 days.
Keep the cake as whole as possible to lock the moisture in. Cold cake can taste dry, so make sure to leave the cake out on the counter to return to room temperature before you serve it again.
Does This Freeze Well?
Yes, it does! When wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept in a sealable freezer-safe container, this cake will last for up to 3 months. You can freeze the unfrosted cake layers, the whole cake, or even individual cake slices. Let them thaw on the counter overnight and then serve them when they reach room temperature.
Vanilla Dream Cake
For the Vanilla Dream Cake
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 2 large eggs
For the Vanilla Buttercream
- 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- up to 3 tablespoons milk
Make the Cake Layers
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 8 inch round cake pans. Set aside.In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until melted.
- Let cool completely (about 20 minutes in the fridge) and then whisk in vegetable oil, vanilla extract and the scrapings from the vanilla bean. Beat in eggs. Whisk in dry ingredients, until smooth.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool in pans until cool to the touch – then frost.
Make the Buttercream
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
- Increase speed to medium and add vanilla extract. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting is too thick, add remaining 1 tablespoon of milk.
Assemble the Cake
- Assemble the 2 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between the layers. Then apply a thin crumb coat on the top and sides. Pop the cake into the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes.
- Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge if not serving within the next couple of hours. Let cake come to room temperature before serving (let cake sit on counter for about 30 minutes before serving to warm up!).
More Must-Make Cakes and Cupcakes
- Cake Batter Oreo No-Bake Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
- Pink Champagne Cupcakes
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