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Very Vanilla Layer Cake

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields one 3-layer, 8- or 9-inch round cake

Servings: 12 to 16

Simple, understated, and elegant, this deeply vanilla cake is moist, yet light and airy, thanks to the addition of beaten egg whites. Pair it with Very Vanilla Frosting or use your own favorite.


  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pans
  • 10 oz. (2-1/2 cups) cake flour; more for the pans
  • 3-3/8 oz. (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup ice-cold water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 batch of Very Vanilla Frosting

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 300
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 120
  • Fat (g): 13
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Cholesterol (mg): 30
  • Sodium (mg): 230
  • Carbohydrates (g): 41
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Sugar (g): 23
  • Protein (g): 4


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out the excess flour.
  • Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the water, milk, and buttermilk.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the egg, and beat until just combined.
  • On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the water mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Increase the speed to medium for a few seconds to incorporate. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
  • In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form; do not overbeat. With a silicone spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared pans, and smooth with a small offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove from the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
  • Frost with Very Vanilla Frosting or with another favorite frosting.

Make Ahead Tips

The cake layers may be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 1 month. Let thaw for a couple of hours before frosting; a partially frozen cake is easier to frost because the crumbs don’t come off as easily.


Rate or Review

Reviews (7 reviews)

  • User avater
    thebusychef | 11/30/2019

    Very good, moist and the icing is delicious.

  • compactfish | 02/11/2019

    This isn't your flavorless white cake mix cake. It's a delicious vanilla cake with a surprising extra-white appearance. The icing was a new technique for me--a (cooked) flour buttercream or Ermine icing--and was very fluffy and not overly sweet. I served alongside the Fine Cooking hot chocolate cake and lemon cake, and this cake was the crowd favorite!

  • worksmarternotharder | 02/28/2018

    So happy to find this recipe. It was perfect. Moist, fluffy and not so yellow.

  • momsstuffing | 08/03/2017

    I used this recipe to make my twin daughters homemade "naked" confetti cake for their 6th birthday. The batter made 3, even 8 in round cakes. I did brush with simple syrup to keep it moist. I made a go to butter cream recipe (not fine cooking). But they decorated very well and the cake was delicious! I will make again.

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