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Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe

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Learn how to make my classic Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting and I’ll show you how to make the best vanilla cake recipe and decorate it simply and impressively!

Hi Bold Bakers! 

Every Bold Baker needs a Master Vanilla Birthday Cake recipe with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. A vanilla cake recipe is a must have in your repertoire. I promise you this cake recipe will never fail you and you will have it for years to come.


How to Make the Best Vanilla Cake Recipe

This cake is a classic with a lovely vanilla flavor. It is soft and light and the buttercream helps make it a simple, big slice of heaven.

I know my strengths as a baker and cake decorating is not one of them. So what I do is use the simplest technique to get over-the-top results like this beautiful Birthday Cake covered in sprinkles. 

 Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe): An incredible cake recipe that you will use for years to come.

Don’t worry if you are not a great cake decorator. Adding Sprinkles covers a multitude of sins. Your cake will look flawless with my method.

Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe): An incredible cake recipe that you will use for years to come.

You cannot beat a classic Vanilla Cake, it’s one of my favorite. The sprinkles on this cake make it over-the-top amazing!

Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe): An incredible cake recipe that you will use for years to come.

When making your next celebration cake remember you cannot go wrong with Sprinkles!!! Just when you think you added enough, add MORE!

Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe): An incredible cake recipe that you will use for years to come.

Once decorated, this cake keeps well for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe): An incredible cake recipe that you will use for years to come.

This Vanilla Cake freezes really well and can be kept for 4 weeks in the freezer.

Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe): An incredible cake recipe that you will use for years to come.

This Birthday Cake is best served at room temperature. The flavors and texture will be much better.

Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe): An incredible cake recipe that you will use for years to come.

Find my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe here. And you can use this cake to make my Lemon Meringue Cake recipe. I really hope you give my recipe a go and enjoy the best vanilla cake recipe!

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4.32 from 126 votes
Vanilla Birthday Cake
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
Servings: 8
Author: recipe adapted from Life Made Sweeter Blog
  • 3 cups (425g/15oz) cake flour, sifted
  • 2 cups (453g/16oz) granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg whites , at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg , at room temperature
  • 1 cup (8floz/227ml) whole milk or full fat buttermilk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (170g, 6oz) unsalted butter, cold
  • Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe Here)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line three 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large jug combine and whisk together the egg whites, whole egg, milk, and the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed for 1 minute. (You can also do it by hand)
  4. Add the cold butter and continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture.
  5. Add the liquid mixture into your dry ingredients in 2 separate batches making sure to scrape the sides and bottom before and after each batch, mixing until light, fluffy, homogenous and well incorporated. Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at bottom of bowl is incorporated.
  6. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  7. Bake until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center, about 25-35 minutes. Be very careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 25 minutes to see how it is doing and judge the timing from there.
  8. Once Bake let the cake cool on racks for 20 minutes before removing them from the tins.
  9. When the cake is completely cold you can start to decorate. If you are not using it straight away wrap the cake tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.
  10. To Assemble the Cake: With a serrated knife cut off the top of the cake layers to give them even, level surfaces to frost on.
  11. Place bottom cake layer on the table or cake turntable.
  12. Spread your chilled butter cream frosting on top with a small offset spatula. Gently place 2nd cake layer face down on top. Place more frosting on top of this layer and spread out.
  13. Gently add the 3rd cake layer. Add a generous scoop of frosting and spread evenly with a small offset spatula working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. This is called the “Crumb layer” . Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  14. Remove from refrigerator and apply a final “coat” of frosting. Decorate all over with sprinkles. Just keep on applying them until they stick all over.
  15. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Before serving let it at room temperature for 30 minute and then enjoy!
Recipe Notes

I scoop cup measurements, so flour will come in as 5ozs.

“A party without cake is just a meeting” ― Julia Child


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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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  1. Fishingstars on August 15, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Oh my goodness! TY for the high altitude adjustments! I made two batches of cake batter so that I could make three 9inch round cakes and it was a HUGE hit! Instead of the rainbow sprinkles I made a blue buttercream frosting (your recipe also)cake with fondant stars (my sisters favorite shape) with a “surprise” center of sprinkles!! The cake did not Indent over the hollow center of sprinkles at all! The cake and frosting were so delicious and it wasn’t too sweet (like store bought cakes tend to be) it was perfect density and moistness, my family is making this our go-to birthday cake recipe now. Bravo Gemma!!! Love Love You’re recipe! I can’t wait to try out some of your other recipes! Thank You 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on August 16, 2018 at 3:36 am

      Hi there,
      thank you so much! I am delighted you took the trouble to let us know how you managed this recipe, i almost feel I was at the party!
      It is a big issue for many people, and we will do more work on this in the future.
      Good to have you baking with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Miriaml0525 on August 15, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Hi Gemma. Can this recipe work for a half sheet or should it be doubled?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 15, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Hi Miriam,
      for 1/2 sheet you will need about 1/3 more of this recipe.
      I suggest you make 1/2 more, as it depends on the depth of your pan, then you can judge it. If you have too much make a few cupcakes.
      Write out the recipe first, then do the math, that makes it safe!
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Alayo on August 12, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Hi gemma I don’t no what happen my cake did not come out well at all it was so oily and did not rise at all and at first my sugar was not melting the batter was just falling apart. I don’t no wat I did wrong.

    • Gemma Stafford on August 16, 2018 at 3:55 am

      Hi there,
      I do not have enough information!
      Can you tell me if you made any changes to the recipe, or to the method of baking. this sounds very odd!
      Gemma 🙂

  4. Christopher N Howlett on August 9, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Also! Can this be made into a sheet cake? Not as good looking but I think we have a few baking pans at home.

    • Gemma Stafford on August 10, 2018 at 2:56 am

      Hi Christopher,
      Sure you can! This will work well in a 9 x13 inch pan, but it will need to be about 1 1/2 inch deep. butter and line the pan with baking paper for ease of removal.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  5. Christopher N Howlett on August 9, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Hi Gemma,

    This looks lovely. I am new to baking so this is my most ambitious project yet. You mention being able to do this in 8 or 9 inch tins as well and I was wondering for the 8 or 9 is that 2 instead of 3 tins or is it still divided into thirds with just the expectation of a wider flatter cake?

    Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 10, 2018 at 3:09 am

      Hi Christopher,
      yes, that is two pans, instead of three.
      I use a simple math to decide this. 3x 6 inch pans will be 108 sq inches.
      2 x 8inch pans will be 128 sq inches, so the same batter will work, but be a little flatter.
      2 x 9 inch pans will be 162 sq inches, so you will need a bit more batter, about 1/2 more of the recipe.
      I know, mathematicians out there will think this a crazy way to do it, I am a chef, not a scholar, but this works for me.
      I hope this chimes with you!
      Gemma 😉

  6. Aruna on August 7, 2018 at 12:09 am

    Hello Gemma,
    I am your huge fan. I inspire your baking alot. I tried this recipe today and got some cracks above the cake. Could you please help me out, so that next time when I bake i can avoid it. Thanks in advance.

    • Gemma Stafford on August 8, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Hi, I’m delighted to hear that. To avoid cracking in the top of the cake i might suggest baking the cake in the lower racks in the oven. I hope that helps, enjoy!

  7. Chrissy Rose on July 31, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Hi Gemma! I Iive in Lone Tree, Colorado, what adjustments should I make for the high altitude here? I live at 5,948 elevation…I am making a birthday cake!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 2, 2018 at 2:19 am

      Hi there Chrissy,
      I feel your pain! I had a big challenge with this when I worked in Tahoe.
      Adjustment for 5000 feet:
      • Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon, decrease 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon.
      • Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 0 to 2 tablespoons.
      • Increase liquid: for each cup, add 2 to 4 tablespoons.
      • Increase oven temperature by 25 degrees F.
      Some people will use a cake nail too to help to distribute the heat, and some people will use a bundt pan, which also allows for the even distribution of the heat.
      I hope this will help you to make a great cake,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Aimee Griffin on July 27, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Hi Gemma I do not have cake flour. Can I use your self rising flour recipe instead?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 28, 2018 at 10:19 am

      hi Aimee,
      yes, all will be well. Let us see the results too! Will be delighted,
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Danielle Petrik on July 24, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Gemma, this has got to be the best cake recipe I’ve ever tried. It’s soo good my whole family asks me to make it for every event. Is there a way that we can keep this recipe the same but make it into a chocolate cake? How much cocoa powder would I use?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 25, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      I’m delighted you liked it. I would add cocoa to this cake but rather steer you in the direction of my best ever chocolate cake. it’s a huge fan favorite.


  10. dmalsha on July 24, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Thank you so much Gemma! Here in Sri lanka people are used to giving orders in Kilos so yeah i too find it unusual cause it’s easier if it was for serving capacity.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 24, 2018 at 3:28 am

      Hi there,
      that is interesting! I have never seen it like that, usually here it is in inches. Thank you for letting me know,
      Gemma 🙂

  11. dmalsha on July 24, 2018 at 1:50 am

    Hi Gemma,

    If i am to make a 2kg cake from this recepie? in 8 inch pans, how shouuld i go about it


    • Gemma Stafford on July 24, 2018 at 3:03 am

      Hi there,
      without making this up for you, you can do a lot of this calculation yourself.
      add up the ingredients in a recipe, this will give you the weight of the cake, more or less. That is an unusual way to work though!
      Three eight inch pans will be take about twice the batter of three 6 inch pans, perhaps with a little left over. This also reflects, more or less, the doubling of the ingredients weight. fill the pans 3/4 full, and if you have a little batter over, make a cooks treat, just for you!
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  12. Deepa on July 23, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    Can i know, if i can do this cake eggless. is there anything i can substitute it with and the measurements.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 24, 2018 at 3:37 am

      Hi Deepa,
      Eggs can be substituted in most cake recipes. The results will never be the same as the eggs, but you will get a good result just the same.
      For this type of cake applesauce is the usual substitute. You can of course use yogurt, flax egg too. ( check the chart here.
      I hope this works out well for you, you can try a small sample recipe too, divide down the ingredients and test it!
      Gemma 🙂

  13. Julie on July 21, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Oh, and I knew what you meant by “scoop” measure. My gammy used an old coffee mug, the same one I use today. I end up with extra batter, but.. YAY!

    • Gemma Stafford on July 22, 2018 at 3:21 pm

      No unfortunately. It needs to be added to the dough while mixing. It can’t be added in after.

      You might still be able to use the dough because of the yeast.

  14. Julie on July 21, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    I have spent my LIFE, looking for a decent yellow cake recipe… all have been less than decent, until now!
    It was AMAZING!!! I’m so excited to finally have found a great yellow cake recipe!!
    Thank you!!!

    • Gemma Stafford on July 22, 2018 at 7:57 am

      Delighted to hear that!!! Thanks for letting me know 🙂


  15. Laporsha Vickers on July 16, 2018 at 8:23 am

    This cake was horrible. Dry and had a corn bread textures;

    • Gemma Stafford on July 16, 2018 at 8:29 pm


      I’m sorry to hear that. It is not the feed back I have gotten so far. Can you just double check the ingredients used. It sounds like something was off because this shouldn’t have been the result.


  16. Laura on July 16, 2018 at 4:06 am

    Roughly how many grams of spinkles did you use?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 16, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      I’m not sure, I didn’t weight them. But you do need a large container of sprinkles.


  17. Daviana Fortella on July 12, 2018 at 9:08 am

    What amount of this recipe can make a 12x12x4 cake?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 12, 2018 at 9:30 pm

      Maybe double the recipe, Daviana.


  18. AwesomeBaker1122 on July 10, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Really love it. You did a very nice work. Thanks for sharing this useful recipe. Soon i will give it a try.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 12, 2018 at 5:04 am

      Thank you for your kind words, good to have you with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  19. Allthingslovely on July 10, 2018 at 1:17 am

    Hi Gamma,
    I would love to make this cake!! I have an important family occasion coming up,is it possible to up scale it to a 14″ square??if so, how? 😊

    • Gemma Stafford on July 12, 2018 at 5:25 am

      Hi there,
      Wow! That is a big cake pan!
      You will need to butter and line this pan really well, perhaps double grease proof paper for this sized pan.
      Here is a link to a chart which will allow you to check the volume of your pan.( You did not tell me the depth of your pan, but I am guessing 4 inches. My 3 x 6 inch pans will take about 1.5 liters of batter, if that helps you to calculate. I think you will need about 2 1/2 times my recipe. I would make three times and if you have a little over make a few cupcakes. The baking time is a different matter, I have no idea how long it will take. 180c/350f for at least 50 minutes, then check it. Make sure the oven thermostat is right for this large bake.
      Let us see the results,
      Gemma 🙂

  20. Rachmakemeacake on July 8, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Okay, I’m confused, I just saw your comment about the flour being in a “scoop cup.” So did you actually use 15 oz. of flour instead of 3 cups because that’s a big difference…

    • Gemma Stafford on July 9, 2018 at 12:41 am

      Hi there,
      I scoop my flour, and take a cup as 5ozs.
      Cup measurements are based on an informal system of measurement, prior to home weighing scales. People would share recipes based on their kitchen cups, it did not matter the weight of the ingredients, or the size of the cup, as long as the same cup was used to measure all of the ingredients, in any one kitchen. It a measure of volume. Once the balance is right, then all will be well. Different ingredients have different equivalent weights too, so rice will be different to sugar, cocoa to flour, and different flours will have a different weight too. Think Rocks and Feathers! So, the rule is simple, fill your cups in the same way, scoop/level/compress, however you choose, and the balance in the recipe will be good. It is not a good idea to mix cup measurements with another method, it is unnecessary, and will not be good for your recipes. You have to trust this system, if not, get a digital scales, it will be the most accurate of all!
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  21. Stephanie Moreno on July 6, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Hey Gemma! Love your recipe, thanks for all you do! I was reading through to see how many cups of batter this makes or more specifically his man6 cupcakes I’d yield…. I need to make a 6” round [in a 2” deep pan and atleast 18 standard cupcakes… is this possible?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 9, 2018 at 3:55 am

      Hi Stephanie,
      I think you will need to double this recipe to be sure. You will have some cupcakes more than you need, but as we say in the kitchen, better to be looking at them than looking for them!
      The other recipe which will work like a charm for this is the crazy cupcake one. This is a proportional recipe, and works really well for any sponge cake. about 1 1/2 times this recipe will work well for you. ( This is basically the recipe I used in the Celery stamp cake too.
      I hope this works well for you,
      Gemma 🙂

  22. cacrent87 on July 5, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Thank you so much Gemma! Yes indeed, husbands need treats too LOL! I will check out that blog you suggested. Thanks again 😃

  23. cacrent87 on July 4, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Hey Gemma! What would be the perfect gluten-free flour blend mixture that is close to all purpose flour to make this cake a success? My husband has a gluten intolerance and most of these store bought gluten free flours are not that good and make bake goods nasty and bland. Thanks Gemma and talks soon! Happy 4th of July 🎆

    • Gemma Stafford on July 5, 2018 at 2:41 am

      Hi there,
      This is not my specialty, and I dare not give such important advice in case I get it wrong.
      I like a lady whose blog is called ‘gluten free girl’. She is celiac, and really understands the need around this, worth a follow.
      In the US I get great reports about Bob’s Red Mill flour, but I have not used it.
      I hope this helps, husbands need treats too!
      Gemma 🙂

  24. KymberlyMcCabe on July 1, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    This by far was the worst vanilla cake recipe I have made. I’ve been baking for a very long time and just have not had something with the taste of sweet pancakes and texture of a dry pound cake. I followed instructions to the T and still terrible results. Please tell me if you have something you did different? I’ve been through culinary school and have had many an epic fail but this?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 3, 2018 at 3:55 am

      Hi there Kymberly,
      This has been a really popular recipe! If you scroll down under the recipe you will find other Bold Bakers results. I have no idea why this was not good for you, but I am really sorry it failed. I have a sense that there is something I do not know, perhaps to do with a change of ingredient.
      I would be guessing, and that is not fair, but I am truly sorry to disappoint,
      Gemma 🙂

  25. simran on June 30, 2018 at 5:42 am

    The cake, as well as the presentation both, are excellent, I just love this cake. Especially the sprinkles are looking beautiful.

    • Gemma Stafford on June 30, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      Hi there,
      That is very kind, thank you,
      Gemma 🙂

  26. Stephani Powers Haygood on June 29, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Easy, fun and tastes amazing!!!

    • Gemma Stafford on June 29, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      I’m delighted you enjoyed it, Stephani. Your photo is amazing!!! Give my Neapolitan Cake a go as well.

  27. Musfira on June 26, 2018 at 2:23 am

    Hie Gemma….. i have a question that can i bake this cake in microwave? If yes, then please tell me the time duration. I don’t have sprinkles. so what should I use instead of sprinkles?

  28. Lexi on June 25, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Gemma, could you please make sugar cookies? Not the ones where you roll them out and cut shapes, but the ones that are more like snickerdoodles? Also wouldn’t mind seeing best ever snickerdoodles from you 😀
    Best from California

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