Today we're sharing a new scratch Vanilla Bean Cake recipe that we just love!
This layer cake is moist, has wonderful flavor, and would taste fantastic with so many fillings and frostings (from Chocolate to Lemon), although today we are staying consistent with a lovely vanilla bean buttercream.
What Makes a Vanilla Cake Different from a White Cake?
We have many delicious cakes in our recipes section that are flavored with vanilla, including our White Almond Sour Cream Cake, Classic White Cake from scratch, and Vanilla Buttermilk Cake.
While white cake recipes often call for a little vanilla flavoring, a true white cake doesn't contain egg yolks in an effort to keep the cake light extra light in color.
In addition, the whitest of white cake recipes call for using clear vanilla rather than natural, and even use shortening in place of butter to keep the color especially light.
This Vanilla Bean Cake wouldn't be considered a true white cake as it contains whole eggs as well as a good amount of real vanilla (in this case, vanilla bean paste).
The richness from butter and whole eggs, coupled with the moistness from the sour cream in the recipe, and more than a tablespoon of vanilla makes this cake a stand-out!
It is moist and flavorful, but also sturdy enough that it can withstand the additional weight of fondant if your design calls for it. It's an all-around great recipe and we hope that you enjoy it!
What is Vanilla Bean Paste?
In this recipe, I used Vanilla Bean Paste. Have you used it before? Vanilla bean paste, which depending on the brand, will be sold in bottles or tubes, is not a paste at all. It's more the consistency of syrup (and the flavor is amazing).
Vanilla bean paste is a happy medium between using vanilla extract and vanilla bean pods.
It gives you the convenience of a vanilla extract, but it also contains the vanilla been seeds from the pod without any of the work! Those little vanilla bean flecks lend a richness of flavor and I love the look of the vanilla speckles in the cake and frosting.
Can You Substitute Vanilla Extract for Vanilla Bean Paste?
Yes you can! Vanilla Bean Paste and Vanilla Extract can be used interchangeably.
For this recipe, you can use the same amount of vanilla extract instead, or for your other recipes that contain vanilla extract, you can swap in vanilla bean paste for something a little different.
Using Vanilla Bean Pods instead?
The most common formula that I have seen for using scraped-out Vanilla Bean Pods instead of Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract is that 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract is equal to one 2-inch piece of vanilla bean.
So, the typical vanilla bean pod would give you the equivalent of 3-4 teaspoons of vanilla extract. As with anything, taste and adjust to your liking.
Enjoy the Recipe!
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you give this vanilla bean cake a try, we would love for you to leave a comment and photo below.
Don't miss our full collection of favorite tried and true cake and frosting recipes in our Recipes Section!
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Vanilla Bean Cake Recipe
Moist and Delicious Vanilla Bean Cake recipe!
For the Vanilla Bean Cake
- 2 Sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature (you can add to warm water to bring to room temp)
- 1 cup (242 g) sour cream (we use full fat)
- ⅓ cup (81g) milk (we use whole milk)
- 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Paste (you can substitute vanilla extract if you like)
- 3 cups (342 g) cake flour *See substitution below
- 3 teaspoons (12g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (4g) salt
For the Vanilla Bean Buttercream
- 3 sticks (354g) unsalted butter
- 9 cups (1035g) powdered sugar
- 3 teaspoons (12 g) vanilla bean paste (adjust amount to your liking)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt (optional to cut sweetness)
- ¼ cup (60g) milk (adjust based on desired consistency)
For the Cake Layers
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour three 8 inch x 2 inch round cake pans. (You could use 2 cake pans for slightly thicker layers if you would rather, but we like the additional layer filling.)
- In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend for 30 seconds. Set aside.
- In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the sour cream, milk and vanilla
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until fluffy and lightened in color.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
- Add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of wet).
- Mix until combined and smooth, do not mix above medium speed or over-mix.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool 5-10 minutes, then turn out.
- Makes 7 cups batter. The recipe works well for cupcakes.
For the Vanilla Bean Buttercream
- Cream the softened butter until smooth. Blend in the vanilla.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and most of the milk. Beat at medium speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated.
- Add remaining powdered sugar and milk and mix at medium speed another 3 to 4 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. I slow down the mixer to very slow. (#2 on the Kitchenaid) for 1 to 2 minutes. This will help eliminate air pockets in the buttercream. The texture will become very smooth.
- Makes approximately 6 cups of frosting.
Substitution for Cake Flour: If you have no cake flour, here is a substitution: For each cup of flour in a recipe, remove 2 Tablespoons of flour and replace with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour in the UK). This recipe has 3 cups of flour so you will measure out 3 cups of all purpose flour, remove 6 Tablespoons and replace with 6 Tablespoons cornstarch, whisk to blend.
Hi BeBe and Melissa. I have another question about this recipe. Have you tried using 1/2 cake flour and 1/2 all purpose? I wonder if the texture/crumb result would be a bit "fluffier" cake, maybe some air holes instead of a small finer crumb? Just wondering your thoughts, as I made another vanilla cake recipe yesterday using those flour ratios and I did get a few air holes and a bit fluffier crumb.
Hi Paula, I have not tried using 1/2 cake flour, 1/2 all purpose flour in a recipe. When using AP flour you will see more and bigger pockets of air holes because there will be more gluten in the recipe, so the cake will have a more open texture and not quite as tender. It is all about personal preference and you may prefer that, so it is good to experiment.
Thanks BeBe! I do love your recipe, so I think I will give it a try!
Can you find vanilla bean paste at a Walmart? Where would it be?
Is there a difference in texture between this cake recipe and your vanilla buttermilk recipe?
Hi Fiona, Walmart should have vanilla bean paste, it will be found with the other food flavorings. Also, if you cannot find vanilla bean paste you can use vanilla extract for the recipe. It is an equal exchange, 1 teaspoon extract equals 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste.
I think the texture of both cake recipes are similar.
Thank you Bebe!
Hi BeBe. Another question. I would like to use this recipe for my own anniversary cake that I will be making next month. I want to replicate my cake from 1991! It was an amazing marble cake. If I want to make this vanilla bean recipe a marble cake, what would you recommend for the chocolate part? Cocoa, melted chocolate? And how much batter would you reserve for a great marble? Thank you.
Hi Paula, Congratulations on your 30 year anniversary, that is great. We have only used unsweetened coco powder when making our marble cakes. We use 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder dissolved in 3 1/2 to 4 Tablespoons very hot water. Just adding cocoa power without the water will cause your cake to be dry. We mix this into 1 1/2 cups batter. Link below to our marble cake
Thank you BeBe! You're the best!!
Hey, how many portions/servings are in the entire cake? I checked everywhere and I couldn’t find it. I am hoping to make a varied version of this cake for Fourth of July, cutting the vanilla frosting into three parts and dying them red, white, and blue. It would be a large help if you could tell be because I couldn’t find it in your recipe. Thank you for your time! And by the way, this cake looks delicious. Have a good day!
Hi Sloane- An 8 inch cake like this one feeds about 20- Here is a helpful guide in case you ever need to look up cake sizes in the future! I hope that you enjoy the recipe!