If you’re looking for a go-to vanilla cake recipe for wedding cakes, birthday cakes, shower cakes, anniversary cakes, or just because cakes, that will have everyone who tastes it coming back for more, this is it.
- 4 whole eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
- ¾ cup butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup shortening
- 1 tbs pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp lemon extract (optional)
- 3 cups cake flour (To make cake flour, replace 2 tbsp of flour with cornstarch per cup. So, for this recipe, add all the flour to a bowl, remove 6 tbsp and then add 6 tbsp of cornstarch. Whisk well to combine.)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- 1 cup buttermilk, full fat, at room temperature
- Heat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour three or four 8 or 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper that is also slathered with a bit of butter or shortening.
- Separate the 4 whole eggs, placing the 4 yolks in a small bowl and the whites in a separate medium size bowl. Add the 3 additional egg whites to the other 4 for a total of 7 egg whites. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. (*See note.) Slowly pour in 1/4 cup of the sugar, beating as you pour. Continue to beat until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when you lift the whisk from the beaten egg whites. Set aside.
- Fit the standing mixer with the paddle attachment and cream the butter, shortening and remaining 2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl a time or two. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
- Add 2 of the egg yolks and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining 2 egg yolks, beat for about 20 seconds, until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg to a large bowl and mix with a wire whisk just to combine.
- Beating on low speed, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour: 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/3 of the flour. With each addition, beat on low speed, just long enough to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- With a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter just until distributed. You should still see some streaks of egg white throughout the batter. Do not over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If baking 3 layers, bake for 40-50 min. If baking four layers, bake for 30-35 minutes. When done, the cakes will be golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan. To check for doneness, stick a toothpick into the center of one of the layers. Remove the toothpick and look for signs of raw batter. If only cake crumbs stick to the toothpick, the cake is done. You can also scoop a tiny amount of cake from the center of one of the layers to check for doneness. (You’ll be covering the cake with frosting anyway.)
- Let the cakes cool on wire racks for 5 minutes in the pan, then gently turn them out of the pans onto the wire racks to cool completely. If you don’t plan on frosting the layers immediately, wrap each tightly with plastic wrap. The layers can be stored at room temperature for 1 day, or frozen for up to 2 months.
- Frost with Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream, or Classic American Buttercream.
It’s important to not allow the beaten egg whites to sit around for a long time before folding them into the batter or they will loose their volume. To ensure the time between beating and folding is as short as possible, get all the ingredients measured and prepped before you begin making the batter. Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites right before folding them into the batter.
Keywords: cake, layer cake, birthday cake recipe, vanilla cake, white cake, Italian Meringue Buttercream