I’ve had the hardest time making a quality vanilla cake. They always come out way too soft compared to the kind you get at a good bakery, and when I have managed to get one that was dense, it was dry too. I literally have half a shelf full of professional baking cookbooks too, and every time I’ve tried one of their recipes, I’ve clearly screwed something up. They’re all scaled to a professional kitchen, meaning that they make 10 cakes instead of 1, and clearly I’m failing at math when I try to scale it down.
Last Saturday morning I woke up at 4:50am with Mommy guilt because I hadn’t make a first birthday cake for Sophie. Her party is this coming Saturday, and awesome food blogger that I am, I ordered her birthday cakes from my favourite bakery… but on her actual day, I had nothing. And to me, the one thing you just HAVE to have on your birthday is a cake. Thankfully, my mind was working that early, and I remembered Woodland Bakery (unfortunately now closed).
This isn’t a bakery I’ve ever been too, I don’t even think it’s in the same country as me, but I stumbled upon their Facebook page a year or so ago and am always so excited when I see their posts. It’s done by Gretchen Price, a professional pastry chef, and she posts the same recipes she sells at the bakery. And so it is that I used her recipe, Best Vanilla Sponge Cake (I used to link to her original recipe here, but she had since shut down her site), and I will never look back or try another. I’m including her recipe below, but if you follow that link I just posted she’s also included a few important notes, as well as how to make a marble version. Go, bookmark her site, it’s so worth it!
Here’s what I whipped up though. And I mean that I whipped it up. The cake was surprisingly easy to make, and turned out as good or better than any I’d bought before. I just iced it with a basic buttercream, and on the inside (it was four layers), I did a thin layer of the buttercream between two, and a layer or strawberry jam in the center. That’s the easiest thing to do. Just dump a bunch of your favourite jam in a bowl it, beat it on medium speed until runny, then spread it on your cake. I’ll grab a slice shot later today to show you.
Try this cake with my salted caramel buttercream and sauce!
I can’t stress how perfectly this cake turned out. I have never had one bake up so evenly (no big bulge in the center), or be so dense and moist at the same time. Absolutely phenomenal recipe!
- 4 large eggs, room temperature (200g) (very important)
- 2 cups white sugar (400g)
- 2 cups cake flour (250g) or sub all purpose flour (260g)
- 2 tsp baking powder (10g)
- ¼ tsp salt (2g)
- 1 cup whole milk (8 fl oz)
- 8 tbsp butter (112g)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position. Grease two 8" circular cake pans.
- Whip the room temperature eggs in your mixer on high speed (using the whip attachment), until foamy. Very slowly, pour in the sugar. Continue to whip until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage (when you lift the whisk out, the mixture with flow off in a wide, thick, pale yellow ribbon), about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix on low speed until combined.
- Put the milk and butter in a medium microwave safe bowl (or in a pot on the stove top), and heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot.
- Whisk 2 cups of the cake batter into the hot milk mixture. Add it all back into the remaining batter.
- Add the vanilla and mix until evenly combined.
- Pour the batter evenly between the two cake pans.
- Bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF and continue baking until finished (about 10 minutes, watch carefully). The cake it done when you gently press at the center and it springs back immediately.
- Remove from the cake pans and let cool completely on wire racks before slicing or icing.
Once cooled the cake can be wrapped well in plastic wrap and frozen until needed.
Doubling the recipe isn't recommended unless you have a very large bowl attached to your mixer, because of the need for the egg mixture to reach a certain volume.