Cakes

Gemma’s Best-Ever Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe

4.53 from 1505 votes
Learn how to make my classic Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting and how to decorate this best vanilla cake recipe simply and impressively!
A slice of vanilla cake being taken out of a whole cake.

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.

Seriously, this birthday cake recipe for all your future birthday parties to come. It’s moist, perfectly frosted, and loaded with sprinkles — which are optional, but in my eyes, are actually mandatory. 

My Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream Frosting covered in sprinkles.

What Makes A Cake A Birthday Cake?

You serve it on a birthday, of course! This means, technically, any cake can be a birthday cake if you really want it to be.

Jokes aside, there’s nothing more classic than a vanilla cake, covered in buttercream, and decorated with sprinkles — a festive cake like this begs to help someone celebrate their birthday.

What You’ll Need To Make Your Birthday Cake

  • Three cake pans and parchment papers
  • Large jug
  • Whisk
  • Electric mixer with paddle attachments (and whisk attachment if you need to make the frosting) and bowl
  • Cake tester
  • Wire racks
  • Serrated knife
  • Cake Turntable
  • Small spatula
  • Measuring cups and spoons

A top-down view of my vanilla birthday cake recipe.

How To Make A Birthday Cake

This birthday cake recipe 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. Here’s how you make it (and don’t forget to get the full recipe with measurements, on the page down below):

  1. Butter and line three cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk egg whites, whole egg, milk, and vanilla extract in a large jug.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in an electric mixer’s bowl using the paddle attachment on low.
  4. Add in cold butter and continue to mix on low.
  5. And liquid into the bowl in two batches. Fold until the batter of the bowl is incorporated.
  6. Divide the cake batter into the cake pans.
  7. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the cake tester comes out with only a few crumbs.
  8. Once baked, cool on racks for 20 minutes before removing from tins.
  9. Use a serrated knife to cut off the top of cake layers.
  10. Place the bottom cake layer on a cake turntable.
  11. Spread chilled buttercream frosting on top with a spatula.
  12. Place the second cake layer on top and spread frosting on top of this layer.
  13. Add the third cake layer. Spread frosting all the way down the sides until the entire cake is covered.
  14. Chill the vanilla cake for 30 minutes.
  15. Remove from refrigerator and apply the final coat of frosting. Decorate the big cake with sprinkles.

How To Make Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  1. Whip butter in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment for 7 minutes on medium/high speed.
  2. Add icing sugar one spoon at a time at medium speed.
  3. Add vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, salt, and cream.
  4. Whip on high for three minutes.
  5. Use the buttercream frosting right away or refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.

Decorating A Birthday Cake

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 Cake Slice coming out of the cake.

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.

You cannot beat a classic vanilla cake, which is easily one of my favorite recipes. The sprinkles on this cake make it over-the-top amazing!

Tips And Tricks For The Best Birthday Cake Recipe

  1. When making your next celebration cake remember you cannot go wrong with Sprinkles! Just when you think you added enough, add more.
  2. My best-ever birthday cake is best served at room temperature. The flavors and texture will be much better.
  3. Be careful not to over-bake. This is where your cake tester comes in handy.

A slice of vanilla cake on a plate.

How Long Does Birthday Cake Last?

Once decorated, your big birthday cake keeps well for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. And while most cakes are safe to eat on the counter for roughly the same amount of time, with the frosting, our vanilla cake should ideally be placed in the fridge.

I wouldn’t suggest leaving your cake out on the counter for more than 24 hours.

Can I Freeze My Birthday Cake?

The answer to this is yes! Birthday cakes are perfect for storing in the freezer. This Vanilla Cake freezes really well and can be kept for 4 weeks in the freezer. First, allow the birthday cake to freeze for an hour and once it’s solid, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.

And no need to worry about whether or not the frosted cake will be freezer-safe. Buttercream frosting is perfect to freeze. Just when you’re ready to enjoy your vanilla cake, allow it to thaw completely for eight hours in the fridge.

Find my complete 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!

A slice of moist vanilla cake with a forkful taken out of it.

Make More Cake!

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

Full (and printable) recipe below!

Watch The Recipe Video!

Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe

4.53 from 1505 votes
Learn how to make my classic Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream frosting and I'll show you how to decorate it simply and impressively!
Servings: 8
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Learn how to make my classic Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe with Buttercream frosting and I'll show you how to decorate it simply and impressively!
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter and line three 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  • In a large jug combine and whisk together the egg whites, whole egg, milk, and the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together at low speed for 1 minute. (You can also do it by hand.)
  • Add the cold butter and continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture.
  • 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 the bowl is incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  • 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.
  • Once baked, let the cakes cool on racks for 20 minutes before removing them from the tins.
  • 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 it at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.
  • 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.
  • Place the bottom cake layer on the table or cake turntable.
  • Spread your chilled buttercream 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Before serving let it at room temperature for 30 minutes 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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Araminta
Araminta
1 year ago

HI Gemma,
Is it necessary to use cake flour or we can use all purpose flour?
Thanks

Sonal
5 years ago

Happy 2nd birthday Bigger bolder baking ! Wishibg you many more bigger bolder baking years ahead ,stay blessed dear !

Lucy O Connell
Lucy O Connell
1 year ago

Hi ,
Is it ok to use low fat milk instead of full fat milk

Anna
Anna
1 year ago

Hi again 😂, sorry I know your a really good baker and I can rely on you. For sugar cookies (not yours btw), it says use all purpose flour. I don’t have it so can I use Self- Raising flour?

Uzma
Uzma
1 year ago

I referred your substituting chart and I got to know how to substitute eggs but when it comes to egg whites and yolk separately in the vanilla cake recipe how do I substitute it and make it without eggs ??

Maria C
Maria C
1 year ago

Wow this cake is very appetizing! Dear Gemma I need to make this cake but an 8 inch size. How can I measure the ingredients please to make this cake?

ATH'AYANDA
ATH'AYANDA
1 year ago

Hi Gemma you where so right this recipe won’t fail me and I am 8 years old

Candis
Candis
1 year ago

Can I add oil to this recipe? I am afraid of dry cake

Iqra
Iqra
1 year ago

Hello Gemma,
I wanted to ask how much of ingredients will I need for a 2 layer cake since I would like to make a smaller cake.
Thank you

Alisha
1 year ago

Wow!! Its so yumm and delicios.. I love your recipes.. Thankyou so much for sharing this easy and wouth watering recipe with us.

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!