Vanilla Bean Cake Recipe

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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 Buttercream to Lemon Buttercream and more! However, today we are staying consistent with a lovely vanilla bean buttercream.  

Vanilla Bean Cake Recipe from Scratch! This moist layer cake has amazing flavor!

What is the Difference between this Cake and our Vanilla Buttermilk Cake?

We love the Vanilla Bean Cake as well as our popular Vanilla Buttermilk Cake. This Vanilla Bean Cake has a tighter crumb and is slightly more dense. The Vanilla Buttermilk Cake is fluffier. Both are very moist and flavorful! It boils down to your personal preference of texture!

We also have a wonderful Vanilla Velvet Cake which is very moist with a tight crumb, and slightly richer thanks to the cream cheese in the cake batter. There are so many great options for scratch vanilla cakes!

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, White Cake, 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 sometimes 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!

Moist and Delicious Vanilla Bean Cake

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.

Vanilla Bean Cake Recipe

You will love this moist, flavorful Vanilla Bean Cake recipe!
Course: Recipes
Servings: 11
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


For the Vanilla Bean Cake

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened (226g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (If in a hurry, place eggs in a bowl of warm water for five minutes.)
  • 1 cup sour cream (we use full fat) (242g)
  • cup milk (we use whole milk) (81g)
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Paste you can substitute vanilla extract if you like
  • 3 cups cake flour *See substitution below (342g)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (12g)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (4g)

For the Vanilla Bean Buttercream

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (354g)
  • 9 cups powdered sugar (1035g)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (adjust amount to your liking) (12g)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt optional to cut sweetness
  • ¼ cup milk (adjust based on desired consistency) (60g)


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.

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  1. Hi Melanie, I am sorry but I have never tried a non dairy substitute. Using a google search, I think there are several possibilities, I just don't know which to recommend.

  2. Hi BeBe: I made this great cake again last night. It is really good. Wondering, as it's butter based, and after chilling overnight it's pretty dense, and takes a while to come to room temp, have you ever made it and subbed some of the butter for oil? It would be ideal if it could just be a little fluffier. Thank you.

  3. Hi Paula, I am glad you have enjoyed the recipe. You are right it does firm up quite a bit with refrigeration. For best flavor and texture it needs to be taken out of the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before serving. We like to use butter because of the flavor it adds. However, I think it would be fine to sub some of the butter with oil (canola because it has a neutral flavor). When I get a chance I want to give it a try.

  4. I have made this cake several times and I love the flavor. I am however having one issue. Many times I'll get sort of foamy bubbles spring up on the top of the cake (usually on an edge). I've tried mixing it more at med speed after everything is mixed in but that doesn't seem to help. I am weighing all ingredients so that I get the perfect mixture. What is going wrong?

  5. Hi Sue, If you are having foamy bubbles on the cake batter, it is most likely that you are mixing at a speed that is too high or mixing too long. It is best not to mix above medium during any of the mixing process. The bubbles could also be caused because the leavening, baking powder or baking soda, is not evenly distributed with the other dry ingredients. Whisking the dry ingredients together at least 30 seconds should be enough. You could also sift the dry ingredient to incorporate but we think whisking works best. This should take care of the problem. Let us know how it goes the next time you make the recipe.

  6. Made these this morning for a birthday. I made 24 large cupcakes and baked them for 22 minutes in my convection oven. They are perfect! Thanks for sharing. I will let you know how they look once iced.

  7. I have been look for a moist white cake that will make three 9" layers for a small wedding? Do you have a recipe for one? I was thinking to increase the cake recipe by half, but am not sure if that will work.

    1. Hi Althea, yes the recipe can be used for cupcakes. The cupcakes will bake up with a rather low dome as is common with most "scratch" recipes. Bake standard size cupcakes at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.