Easy vanilla cake

Easy vanilla cake

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(126 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 1 hr, 20 mins

Skill level



Serves 12

A moist cake drenched with vanilla syrup. Use as the basis for a range of fabulous celebration cakes

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
Nutrition info

Nutrition per serving

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  • 250g pack unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 5 large eggs, cracked into a jug
  • 85g plain flour
  • 100g full-fat Greek yogurt (I used Total)
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

For the syrup

  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • seeds ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla paste

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  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease a round, deep 20cm tin, then line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Using electric beaters or a tabletop mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and ¼ tsp salt together until pale and fluffy, then pour in the eggs, one at a time, giving the mix a really good beating before adding the next. Add 1 tbsp of the plain flour if the mix starts to look slimy rather than fluffy. Beat in the yogurt.
  3. Mix the flours; then, using a large metal spoon, fold them into the batter, followed by the milk. Spoon the mix into the tin and bake for 1 hr 20 mins or until well risen and golden – a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
  4. Meanwhile, make the syrup by gently heating 50ml water with the sugar and vanilla in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. Once the cake is out of the oven, leave to cool for 30 mins in the tin, then use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake, going right to the bottom. Pour the syrup over, letting it completely soak in after each addition. Leave to cool completely, then either wrap the cake well or fill and ice it. If you wrap it with baking parchment and cling film, the unfilled cake will keep well for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.
  5. For ideas on how to decorate the cake and to try out some variations on this basic cake mixture, have a look at the 'Goes well with' recipes for Simple elegance wedding cake, Birthday bug cake and Summer celebration cake.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, June 2009

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jennypiccolo's picture
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I was baking a 12 inch (30cm) square birthday cake and wanted a recipe which wasn't a madeira cake, and a recommendation led me to this recipe. I was concerned about some of the comments so made a small 15cm round tester version to begin with, omitting the syrup. It was delicious, so we went ahead with it. We used the quantities for a 30cm round cake (found under simple elegant wedding cake) x 1.3 and it was the perfect amount. Baked at 140 fan for 2hrs 30 mins. Baked perfectly. Sliced and covered with buttercream and fondant icing it was a winner again. Baked on a Wednesday night for the party on Saturday, it was beautifully moist. The remainder of the cake was still being eaten the following Tuesday and it was still good (and we still didn't use the syrup). Highly recommend!

mummy_baker's picture

Hi jennypiccolo, I was hoping you could enlighten me on the quantities please. I am hoping to make this cake for my son's first birthday which is coming up very soon. I want to make it in a 30cm / 12" round cake tin. I am having trouble understanding the conversion. Under the simple elegant wedding cake it says to triple the ingredients which you said you followed but then you have x 1.3 beside that. I'm sorry if this is really obvious I just can't get my head around it. Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

emzy-jane's picture

This cake was fab.After reading the comments I decided to leave out the syrup and im glad I did as it was lovely and moist without it, I did as in the photo with 2 layers of the butter cream filling with jam and covered in rolled icing - great birthday cake.

Claireyk87's picture

forgot my rating :)

Claireyk87's picture

I have used a few vanilla recipes in the past which have been commented on as being nice but I always find them a little dry and heavy. I used this recipe for my partners birthday cake on new years eve and it was simply the nicest recipe I have used and the result was excellent. I actually forgot to put the milk in which made me worry it would be dry like the others I have made but having used the vanilla syrup once it was cooked it was perfectly moist and extremely tasty. Everyone said it was the nicest cake I had made so I was very happy. I plan to use this recipe in March for my mams 50th birthday cake. I will be making a 9inch and 7inch cake to stack so I am hoping they turn out as well as the first. I may even leave the milk out and just use the syrup to keep it moist and add that extra flavour boost.

tomtat's picture

Hi! I hope you don't mind me asking, How are you changing the ingredient quantities for your 9in cake tin? I'd love to make this for my daughter's birthday. Thanks.

miss-mcqueen's picture

Nice, simple recipe.
The bottom was slightly too sticky for me. Think this was due to the syrup. Still, everyone loved the cake and thought it was 'moist'!
I wouldn't bother with the syrup next time though as I don't think it needs it.

gemma99's picture

this is a bit too heavy/stodgy for me. The taste is really nice but as another person said it does have the texture of it being undercooked at the bottom. That could be the syrup which has settled on the bottom but I don't think I would bother making again and try without the syrup as it would just be easier to make a Victoria sponge instead :)

Pogger's picture

I found this cake absolutely foul. Very slimy and stodgy. Was hoping to use as the basis of a wedding cake I am making for my cousin but I would be horrified to present this to her. Really disappointing. My husband, bless him, will eat any cake I make so it won't go to waste.

Annamaria2603's picture

Has anyone tried to make a layer cake out of it?

supercakes's picture

Fab cake, easy to make and tastes delicious! I've made it as a 6" cake as well as this recipe and it works every time. I don't add the vanilla syrup as i think it would make the cake soggy,and it's still lovely and moist without. My new vanilla cake recipe!

Missg's picture

Have made several times. Taste is good but too stodgy. There are better sponge recipes than this.

cazhgs's picture

Can you reccomend any :)

julieuk's picture

I'm making a celebration cake for Mid Oct, but need to up-scale this cake to a 12" square. I am absolutely useless at working it out. Could anyone give me the quantities needed for it. Thank You in advance. x

s4vcakes's picture
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Have tried this a couple of times as I thought I'd done it wrong at first. It is far too moist and stodgy for my liking and almost looks under cooked. I have baked it longer than the recipe states but have ended up putting it out for the birds. I certainly won't be using this recipe again.

noodun's picture
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I made this last month for my daughter's wedding cake. It was a three tier round cake with 12", 9" and 6" cakes but after a few practice tests decided to omit the syrup. It was perfect! I used the Simple Elegance Wedding Cake instructions on this site to work out the measures of mixture needed and made the cakes over a couple of days. I decorated it differently but it looked amazing. The cake was still moist and tasty a full week after it was made.
This week I'm making it as a four tier square wedding cake for my son's wedding....

TheBakery's picture

Forgot to rate

TheBakery's picture

I found this cake very stodgy so will be reverting back to my original cake recipe. It wasn't light and fluffy like I like a cake to be, too moist for my liking.

mackpol's picture

Used this recipe for my son's birthday cake, very happy with the result. Baked it for a little over an hour, just depends on your oven. Will be using this recipe again.