Vanilla Dream Cake

Prep 25 mins
Cook 25 mins
Add'l 30 mins
Total 1 hr 20 mins
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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.

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.

A slice of yellow cake on a plate with two layers separated by white frosting

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.

A slice of vanilla dream cake on a plate in front of the whole cake with a slice missing

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.
  • Salt
  • Water: To dissolve the sugar and make the cake fluffier.
  • Sugar
  • 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
  • Milk

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.

A frosted and decorated Vanilla Dream Cake on a cake stand

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

Close-up of a white frosted cake with multicolored sugar sprinkles decorating the edge

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.

Variation Ideas

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.

Storage Instructions

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.

Yield: 10

Vanilla Dream Cake

A slice of vanilla dream cake on a plate in front of the whole cake with a slice missing

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.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

For the Vanilla Dream Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 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

Instructions

Make the Cake Layers

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Let cakes cool in pans until cool to the touch – then frost.

Make the Buttercream

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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!).

Notes

To Store: Wrap cake in plastic wrap and keep in a sealable container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Can be transferred to the fridge for another 3 days of storage. Keep as whole as possible to lock moisture in. Return to room temperature before serving.

To Freeze: Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze in a sealable freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Freeze the unfrosted cake layers, the whole cake, or individual cake slices. Let thaw on counter overnight and serve at room temperature.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 548Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 504mgCarbohydrates: 101gFiber: 1gSugar: 77gProtein: 5g

Categories

More Must-Make Cakes and Cupcakes

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Comments

306 Responses
  1. Tanya

    Yikes. I was hoping this was going to be an AMAZING vanilla cake. Tried it although I saw the disclaimer that some reviewers were having issues, and yes issues I did have. The cake is not light and fluffy at all! The consistency is more of a weird dense spongy cake. Vanilla cakes technically need the butter, and aren’t oil based cakes. Will definitely be searching for another recipe that uses full butter. This was a watery mess.

  2. Deborah

    So after making this recipe again for the 2nd time tonight. I have figured out the ratio. Add 1 cup flour if using cake flour and sift it.

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
      Jessica

      I have not tried cake flour, but the commenter above you has and said it worked great. Hope you enjoy the cake!

  3. Deborah

    I think I figured out the issue with the “possessed” cake. I made it with Swans Down cake flour, sifted and had to add a little more cake flour. All Purpose Flour is denser and could explain the issue. BTW, Love…… this cake recipe!
    Deb

  4. Isabelle

    I’ve made this cake many times, i normally do a layer of strawberry purée and whipped cream in between the cake layers and it’s fabulous. Best vanilla cake recipe there is! A lot of work but soooo worth it.

  5. John

    I’m making this right now for my friend’s birthday tomorrow. The batter is VERY wet, which makes me a little nervous…I’m following the recipe to a T. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  6. Lorraine

    This cake looks amazing! I’m just wondering if it I can freeze the layers? Will it taste and look the same? I want to use it for a wedding cake and I’ll need to make the cake days ahead. Thanks for your great recipes!

  7. Abi

    Why would you have me preheat the oven and mix the dry ingredients first when I should be doing the sugar water with butter first? While it cools I can pre heat and then mix dry ingredients.

  8. Sarah

    Second time I have made this beautiful cake, but I can’t help notice the ads telling me to cut my belly fat while I’m lusting over this luxurious cake!!

  9. lilo

    Just tried it and it came out terrible. Not sure what I did wrong. It came out an oily mess. Just an fyi, the warning about it not working for everyone is no joke lol. Pictures of steps and how the batter should look maybe would have helped.

  10. Brittney

    So I made this cake and it was amazing! Thank you so much for posting it. I was wondering if you have ever made cake balls with this recipe? I am going to make them and was just wondering what you thought. Thanks!

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
      Jessica

      Glad you liked it Brittney! I have not tired making cake balls with it, however I would love to know your results if you try! 🙂

  11. Jim

    This was a great cake recipe my only change if I were to make it again would be to grease and flour the pan, or use grease, flour and parchment paper.

  12. marta cubillo

    I will try making this cake tomorrow. I am making my sons wedding cake for the 19th of december and i am trying new vanilla cake recipes. i am an expert at chocolate but i have never found a recipe for vanilla yellow cake since my grandmother and i lost her book with her recipe. Yours calls for regular all purpose flour all the other ones i have come across and tried said cake flour. For the wedding cake would that make a difference with your recipe? thx marta

  13. Jamlen

    Made this recipe and everyone loved it. There’s a request to have it in the next holiday gathering. Question: Can I use a bundt pan instead, and if so, how long should it bake for? Many thanks!

  14. Audrie

    Disclaimer: I know this is meant for cake, not what I used it for.

    However, this makes some of the best mini doughnuts I’ve ever tasted! I bought a mini doughnut maker and it suggested using cake mixes as an option. I began prowling the web looking for a recipe which called for ingredients I had on hand.

    This was perfect and it made the BEST mini doughnut! I was going to put a sugar glaze on them, but didn’t think I needed it. I scarfed down the first 7 like a shark documentary. It was savage. I might have been dangerous if someone got between me and the doughnut maker at that point.

    Thankfully no one did, and nobody got hurt.

    TL:DR – this is an amazingly delicious and versatile recipe.

  15. Tasha

    This is my absolute favorite cake (I’ve been looking for a while). I now need to perfect it. When I make it, it falls. Can anyone help me with making this cake perfect for high altitude? I’m assuming that’s the problem, or maybe the seal on my oven. I’m in Denver so I’m a mile high. Thoughts?

  16. AM

    These did not come out for me and I am a baker. I own a bakery business but I like to try out other recipes. I made these into cupcakes and it was a fail. I thought the ratio of liquid to dry seemed a bit off but tried them anyway. The batter ended up just being extremely thin. They barely rose, just kinda flowed over the rim a little and then stuck to the pan. They were very moist, but almost too moist as I couldn’t get them out of the pan without smashing them. Wouldn’t even stand up on their own. Maybe would work better as a cake but I feel they would probably fall apart if I tried adding frosting. They made the house smell good though.

  17. Sharla Eley

    Hi! I’ve made this cake twice now for a recipe over at laurenslatest for strawberry layer cake. The whole thing was delicious and has become the favorite of my whole family. My 4 year old is requesting it at his birthday party, and I’m just wondering if instead of two round cake pans can I make this in a 9×13? Any idea how that would come out? Thanks!!!

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
      Jessica

      Hi Sharla! Glad you love it! I am sure it would bake just fine in a 9×13, however i do not have a cooking time frame for you. Just keep an eye on it and I am sure it would bake the same as it normally does! 🙂

Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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