An exceptional, yet simple Vanilla Butter Cake. Adapted from a master Cook’s Illustrated recipe, this sponge cake is made with pantry staples, has a velvety, tender crumb and keeps well for 3 days. An essential addition to every recipe collection!
Want to step it up? Try my ultimate Perfect Vanilla Cake.
Moist and tender Vanilla Sponge Cake
I call this a plain-jane Vanilla Sponge Cake, but it’s really anything but that. Everyone should have a classic vanilla sponge cake in their repertoire, and it took me many years to find the “perfect” one.
This is a classic, simple Vanilla Sponge Cake that is made with basic ingredients – eggs, milk, butter, flour, sugar, vanilla, baking powder and salt. That’s it. No sour cream, no buttermilk – these are not pantry staples in my world – or any other schmancy ingredients. Yes adding sour cream and/or buttermilk makes an even more tender, more moist cake. But I wanted to share a truly great Vanilla Sponge Cake that is made with just pantry staples.
I have a soft spot for old fashioned Vanilla sponge cakes. I am pretty sure the Women’s Weekly Best Ever Sponge was the first cake I ever (attempted?) to make. 🙂 Freshly made, they are lovely, albeit a wee bit dry for my taste. But the biggest issue I’ve always had is that after 12 hours, the sponge is incredibly dry. Even slathered with copious amounts of cream and frosting can’t hide it.
This recipe I’m sharing today is made with the same ingredients as old fashioned Vanilla Sponge Cakes, but there’s one very important step that you won’t see in any Women’s Weekly recipe books from the 1980’s: beating softened butter into the dry ingredients. THIS is the secret to a moist, tender sponge cake made without sour cream or buttermilk.
How do I know this?
Because this is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. 🙂 They’ve gone and done all the hard work with the recipe testing for us.
Regular readers know I’m never going to win any awards in the cake decorating category. I’m much more focussed on the body of the cake – getting that sponge right. So I kept this simple and just slathered on lots of cream and and sandwiched it with strawberries. In addition to adding some lovely fresh juicy flavours into the cake, the strawberries also stop the cream from oozing out of the cake when you cut into it.
You’ll see in the video. 🙂
Happy weekend everyone! Hope you have a lovely one. I’m off to a festival of some sort – for a friends’ birthday. I’m not really a festival-type gal, so it will be an experience. I don’t even know what the festival is for – music, I’m guessing. Guess I should probably leave my stilettos behind. 😉 – Nagi x
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Vanilla Sponge Cake recipe video!
Butter Cake (Vanilla Sponge Cak)
- 225 g / 2 sticks unsalted butter , cut into 8 pieces and softened
- 4 large eggs (55 - 65g / 2 - 2.5 oz each), at room temperature
- 1⁄2 cup / 125 ml milk (whole or low fat, not no fat), room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups / 265g plain flour (all purpose flour, 7 oz) (Note 1)
- 1/4 cup cornflour / cornstarch (Note 1)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups / 330g caster sugar / superfine sugar (normal white sugar also ok)
- 3/4 tsp salt
Strawberries & Cream:
- 2 1/2 cups / 625 ml whipping cream
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 400 g/ 14 oz strawberries , halved (1 1/2 punnets)
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F (standard) or 160C/320F (fan / convection). Put the rack in the middle of the oven.
- Butter 2 x 20cm / 8" cake pans (Note 2). Line the base with baking paper.
- Place Wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Place Dry ingredients in a bowl and use a handheld beater on speed 1 (slowest) to quickly whisk.
- Add 1/3 of the butter, then put the beater whisk in the butter, and mix using speed 1. Once the butter is incorporated a bit, speed up to 5 and whisk for 10 seconds.
- Add another 1/3 of the butter then repeat, then add remaining butter and repeat again. It should look like wet sand (see video / photos in post).
- Add half the Wet mixture, beat until incorporated. Add remaining Wet mixture, then beat on speed 5 (medium) until almost completely smooth.
- Divide between cake pans, smooth surface (it levels out in the oven), then bake for 25 minutes.
- A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean but moist.
- Cool on cooling rack for at least 15 minutes then remove cake from pan.
Frosting / Decorating with Strawberries & Cream:
- Optional: Use a serrated knife (I use a bread knife) to cut the top off each cake to make it completely flat. This makes neat layers when you cut into the cake.
- Place cream, vanilla and sugar in a bowl. Beat on high with a handheld beater or stand mixer until firm peaks form.
- If piping little swirls around the edge like in the photos, transfer 1 cup of cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.
- Place a cake on a serving platter. Spread a thin layer of cream over the top.
- Cover with strawberries, cut side down.
- Top with 1/3 of the cream.
- Place 2nd cake on top. Cover top and sides with remaining cream. Pipe cream around the edge.
- Decorate with remaining strawberries, as desired.
More cake goodness
LIFE OF DOZER
You do not want to know how big the puddle on the floor was….EEEEWWWW!!!! (watch me teasing him with this in the video!!)