vanilla birthday cake

Vanilla Birthday Cake with Old-Fashioned Vanilla Buttercream

This moist and delicious birthday cake recipe is adapted from one of my favorite baking books, Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri.

Servings: Makes one 8-inch 2-layer cake, or 24 cupcakes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

For the Cake Layers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with back edge of knife
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For the Buttercream

  • 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Cut two 8-inch rounds of parchment paper and line the bottom of each pan; spray the paper with nonstick spray. (To measure the parchment paper, just trace the bottom of the pan.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until very soft and light. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg whites and milk by hand in a medium bowl until just combined.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the milk mixture, stopping and scraping down the bowl and beater after each addition. Beat in another quarter of the flour, then another third of the milk mixture. Scrape again. Repeat with another quarter of the flour and the remaining milk mixture; scrape. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  6. Scrape the bowl with a large rubber spatula. Don't worry if the the batter looks a little grainy. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the tops.
  7. Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, until they are well risen and firm and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on rack for 5 minutes, then unmold onto rack to finish cooling right side up (keep parchment paper underneath cake layers so they don't stick to rack). When cake layers are completely cool, transfer to cake plate and frost with vanilla buttercream. (I always flip the bottom layer of the cake so that the domed side is facing down and touching the plate. That way, the surface that you're icing is flat and will minimize any separating between the two layers when you put the other layer on top of it.)

For the Vanilla Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until creamy and well combined.
  2. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat in the vanilla and salt. If the frosting is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk or cream.
  3. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen, without frosting, for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop and then frost before serving.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (12 - 14 servings)
  • Calories: 571
  • Fat: 23 g
  • Saturated fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 88g
  • Sugar: 73 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 167 mg
  • Cholesterol: 63 mg