Easy vanilla cake

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 1 hr, 20 mins


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: per serving

  • kcal399
  • fat21g
  • saturates12g
  • carbs48g
  • sugars27g
  • fibre1g
  • protein6g
  • salt0.31g
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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 egg, cracked into a jug



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 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


  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.

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Comments (271)

persia24's picture

does anyone know if this cake ok to carve to make shaped cakes or is it to soft ? thanks

danielquai's picture

Yummy, I often make celebration cakes and although they look lovely, i find madeira, chocolate or any other plain cake quite boring. This was amazing, great to use for decoration but so tasty, it could be used just to eat plain too, I will never make a different celebration cake again. I decorated it with white chocolate cigarellos, butter icing and red roses. Although both taste amazing I do favour using vanilla pods though as it looks lovely when the cake is cut. It kept well too.

ninaharris225's picture

I made this for a family birthday. It rose well and was very moist. Everyone loved it and had seconds. Will definitely make it again.

emsmith's picture

Having searched in vain for years to find a foolproof sponge recipe for family celebrations, this has finally filled the niche and is now the cake of choice for birthdays in our household. My husband isn't the biggest fan of plain sponge cake, always claiming in the past that it's just been a 'vessel for icing and buttercream' as far as he's concerned - but he LOVES this cake! The syrup keeps it moist for days and the vanilla flavour is just strong enough to add enough interest for grown-up palates. Wonderful!

chichi_30's picture

This cake was amazing. I did it for my daughters 2nd Birthday and decorated it with sugarpaste and peppa pig figures. Everyone said it looked and tasted great. Best cake ever.

ellacupcake's picture

FAO abla - thanks SO much for the dental floss tip!! My filled cake came out beautifully and not lopsided!! :)

sianlennon's picture

I made this for my son's christening and it definitely stood up against other cakes we have had in the past. It was moist and moreish. I sandwiched it with jam and the vanilla butter cream and then covered it with the buttercream, apricot glaze and then icing over the top. I had lots of lovely comments and would definitely make again.

speysider's picture

I wouldn't serve it without putting a filling in even if I was covering it with buttercream and chocolate icing as little-lolly talks about above. Jam and buttercream are the best choice for fillings. It covers really well with sugarpaste for a celebration cake but put on a layer of buttercream first.

little-lolly's picture

Do you have to fill the cake or not? I am making it for my step dads birthday. I am going to put butter icing on top and deocroate with chocolate flavored icing. will this go? and do i need to fill the cake with anything?

little-master-chef's picture

Is this cake ok to cover with sugar paste because I want to make a cake for a 40th birthday.

annatgilroyd's picture

Ive made this cake a few times for special occassions and its worked out everytime. Its very moist easy to make and tastes delicious, try it with blueberry jam its delicious.

thegail's picture

Hi Loz, you would bake this cake in a deep sided cake tin rather than 2x sandwich tins and then cut horizontally to fill- you can do this with a large knife or I like to use dental floss to do this (non minted type) just cut off apiece long enough to go round the cake check that it is level then cross the two ends and pull them apart which will slice the cake evenly...

marpar's picture

Sooo good!
Made this for my mum's birthday. Really easy to make and absolutely delicious!!

helenlj's picture

I made this yesterday for a friend's birthday; it's a fantastic-tasting cake - really moist, and it went down very well with everyone. It took 10 minutes longer to cook in my fan oven than the recipe says, but that wasn't a problem. I'll definitely be making this again!

lauracochrane's picture

I don't understand how I am supposed to 'fill' the cake. Am I supposed to cut the one cake in half lengthwise, or do I make two cakes and put together using jam or the like? Any help appreciated.

nbstrachan's picture

My first ever 'posh' cake, I made it for my father-in-law's 60th. Cut it into layers, filled with buttercream and jam and covered with royal icing, topped with a veggie plot full of royal icing lettuce & leeks. Had great fun making it and it turned out really well. The cake was delicious and lasted well (for the few days it was around). I would make one small change for next time, use half a vanilla pod in the cake instead of a whole one. Now just deciding what to cook for mother-in-laws 60th later this month.

speysider's picture

Made this tonight - if you increase the recipe by 20% (6 eggs, 300g butter, 300g sugar, 120g yoghurt, 100g plain flour, 300g SR flour etc) it makes the perfect recipe for a giant cupcake for those of you who have one of the tins. Definitely my giant cupcake recipe of choice.

sammymac's picture

I made this for my daughter's 8th birthday. I cut the cake into a handbag shape and iced it with coloured royal icing. I added a silver foil clasp and plaited icing strands for a strap - she loved it.
I also made this for my son's 4th birthday - using a square cake tin and covering the cake with green royal icing. I then made it into a football pitch by piping with white icing and added some shop bought football goals and players. Both were a hit, it is now my celebration cake recipe of choice.

paula22springfarm's picture

I made this for my husband's birthday. Because we didn't want to eat it all straight away I filled it with cream and jam. It seems to have frozen well. We like to eat some and then freeze the rest for later.
The filling made the cake very rich so it's just as well we didn't try to eat it all in a week.
It was nice but I have known greater cake pleasure.

irishelfin's picture

I want to make this for my daughter's birthday party but thought I'd do a trial run first. I made half the quantity and used a 1lb loaf tin - perfect! I didn't fill it, but coated the top with the vanilla buttercream with a little white chocolate added (as per Birthday Bug cake - about one third of the quantity). This also turned out great. I will definitely be making the full size cake complete with bugs for the big day.


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