Easy vanilla cake

Easy vanilla cake

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(132 ratings)

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, questions and tips

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Comments (269)

samsam32's picture

Can anyone advise how to multiply this recipe for a 12x12 inch square cake? Thanks :)

InnaDP's picture

A great recipe. Got a little wicked and used rum instead of syrup.

Country mouse Aberdeenshire's picture

I tried this recipe for a birthday cake. It carved well into three slices and took buttercream well, stacked well. However a bit dense for my personal taste. I may have overmixed the batter in the final stages though, as that can toughen up a sponge. Not sure the sugar syrup was a good addition.

Alysonbw's picture

How high should this cake in a 20cm tin rise? Can't get it above 2inches and top cracks every time

Alysonbw's picture

Please help. Have tried this recipe with 20cm tin three tins and can't get it to rise up anymore than 2 inches. Is this the correct height? Also can't stop top cracking have tried putting towelling strips round tin. Is oven too hot maybe? Thanks

Ness999's picture

Forgot to rate

Ness999's picture

I've finally found the cake to use for my son's birthday cake! This is the 3rd recipe I've tried and it's definitely the best. It's moist and fluffy but also dense enough to hold up to cutting into shape and being decorated with buttercream.

I made exactly as per the recipe except I used an 11x7 inch brownie pan. My oven is hot so it only needed 57 mins at 140° fan. I didn't use the syrup as it will get plenty of extra sweetness from the buttercream but if I wasn't decorating it I would consider using it. It doesn't have a strong vanilla flavour so I may add a bit more next time but all in all this is a great cake. Easy to make and tastes fantastic :-)

bakermum2015's picture

lovely moist delicious cake! followed the recipe aside from the baking tin as I have used 2 sandwich tins and reduce the baking time in half. definitely yummy with the syrup in it

LeenieBean's picture

Am currently baking my third vanilla cake in two weeks and fully expect the same perfect results. I also don't bother with the syrup as I think it is sweet and moist enough without. Taste and texture even better a day after baking ... though I haven't noticed much of a vanilla taste either with vanilla seeds or extract so perhaps may play around with that in future.

skatkat92's picture

I left out the vanilla syrup as suggested by others and I really think the cake needed it. Without the syrup the cake isn't sweet enough and it doesn't have that vanilla kick I was looking for. Considering the rating I was expecting the perfect vanilla cake but it really didn't hit the mark.

cookiecruncher's picture

I baked this cake as the base for my son's birthday cake using an 8inch square tin. It worked perfectly and tasted delicious. Will definitely use this recipe again.

arolfe's picture

Took 3 attempts to get this right..........but was worth it! Needed a 10" by 4" deep layer for a tier of wedding cake. I decided to cook it in 2 halves to get the right depth and used the online 'cakeometer' to work out the quantities, each half using 6 eggs. First 2 attempts a disaster as eggs curdled despite being room temperature on adding to butter/sugar. Eventually I followed instructions up until adding 4th egg, then slowed beaters ad gradually added next two eggs and all of flour.......result was light, fluffy and silky mixture!
Next was the cooking time. I lined the tins and wrapped in 4 layers of newspaper and stood on baking tray that had a sheet of newspaper on it. They needed cooking for 2 hours after turning around after hour 15 mins and turned out perfectly!
I never bothered with the syrup as cakes were moist enough without.
Hope this helps someone as I read many of the reviews before attempting and still wasted a lot of time/ingredients

Tinny29's picture

Did this for my daughters 2nd birthday. Beautiful cake, really moist and very easy to make. Lot of compliments from it.

bakergirl91's picture

So so impressed with this cake! I wanted something plain and easy that would withstand fondant icing. I only made a 6" cake so I halved the recipe and used 3 medium eggs and it turned out wonderfully. I was a bit hesitant about cooking it for so long even at the low temperature as my oven runs hot and tends to burn things easily - however it turned out so good I'm now wondering if you can cook all cakes this way?! It was evenly risen and a perfect light golden brown colour. It sliced like a dream and I'd 100% make it again. Only thing I didn't bother with was the syrup as I went off the other comments. It was moist enough without.

pimlicoman's picture

Very simple recipe and it's foolproof! Perfect results every time and tastes delicious. I don't think it need the syrup so always leave this out.

mazzletoff's picture

This recipe makes for an absolutely delicious cake, made it for a birthday recently and was delicious. I left out the vanilla syrup and the sponge was still lovely and moist. I also used two cake tins instead of one deep one and cooked them for about 50 mins instead of 1h20

Kym2103's picture

Hi I am thinking of using two tins for making a birthday cake and noticed that you did this too. Was it ok doing this just wondered if it would be a bit dry? Thanks

sarebearcarebear's picture

I made this cake last week for my daughters 7th birthday. I am a keen baker and have made many cakes before but never for a particular celebration. I was a little worried it wouldn't turn out right but it was yummy :) My other half said it was a *little* dry but I had to disagree. Didn't bother with the syrup this time round. All in all a very good recipe and the best thing was my daughter said the cake was scrumptious

icingnicely's picture

Fantastic recipe. I have made this a few times for celebration cakes. Works perfectly every time. Delicious.

snicka's picture

Made this as a practice run for a birthday cake. A really nice texture and flavour. Will use again.


Questions (17)

Alysonbw's picture

How high should this 20cm cake rise? Can't get it to go above 2 inches and top cracks every time

Hema A's picture

Hello.. Is there an eggless version of this recipe?? Please do post the eggless version of vanilla sponge cake...

goodfoodteam's picture

Unfortunately we don't have an eggless version of this cake and we can't think of a substitute that you can use successfully for an exact result. If the quantity of eggs exceeds two in a cake recipe, it is difficult to substitute them without changing the texture or taste of the cake. For small quantities some bakers use the following to replace 1 egg: 1/2 mashed banana or 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, or 1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1/3 cup water for 15 mins or 1 tbsp agar-agar mixed with 1 tbsp water. Hope that helps, and we will pass on your request for more egg-free cakes.

arnoldjj's picture

Can someone who has made this cake recipe tell me if it is intended to cut the cake in half after it is baked? Trying to get an idea of how thick the cake will be once it's baked. Seems like the final product is a pretty thick cake, but I would like to confirm this.

goodfoodteam's picture

This cake batter is the basic mixture for the three cakes under 'Goes Well With' section and although two are not halved, it is definitely thick enough for you to. The proportions are quite generous so bake in a 23cm tin if you don't want a cake that is too deep once you have added your filling.

Olenmetra's picture

Is there a conversion of this recipe (grams to oz, ml to cups) etc... I used the conversion charts online but diff charts give me if results.

Pricey109's picture

I find this splits if I used butter rather than stork, why would this be??

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Pricey109, thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear you're not having success with this recipe. Can I ask, does the mixture come back together again when you add a tablespoon of flour as per step 2? And what was the result when baked? Also, if you take the eggs out of the fridge and allow them to come up to room temperature before using that can also help to stop the mixture from splitting. Hope this helps, let us know how it goes if you decide to bake it again. 

Jackielclarke's picture

This recipe is for a 20cm tin . I am using a 25cm round tin unsure of how to calculate accurate measurements and quantities of ingredients HELP ?
Thanking you in advance

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for the question. There is no exact science when adapting cake recipes to fit other tins, for best results follow a recipe for your tin size, thanks. 

srdavys's picture

I'd love to use this recipe for a christening cake - how would I adapt it to fit a 9x13 inch rectangular pan?

Caroline0211's picture

Can you substitue the Greek Yoghurt for an equal measure of sour cream? Thank you

natalie_liverpool's picture

Has anyone ever made this recipe as a dairy and gluten free cake? Planning to use it with substitutes but wondered if anyone else had tried it?

tomtat's picture

Does anybody know how much the ingredient quantities would change for a 23cm cake tin?...Thanks

mrsmcneilly's picture

Do you pour the syrup over the cake while still in the tin? Making tonight..... Thanks.

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there. For this stage, remove the cake from the tin after 30 minutes, then pour the syrup on.

Tips (3)

Sweety6's picture

I made this cake for my brother's bday and it turned out really good! My good.

bacon-n-egg's picture

Change tins - this works with two 20cm sandwhich tins too.
Rounds tins:
18cm - 3/4
15cm - half recipe
23cm -1 plus 1/4
25cm - 1 plus 1/2

18cm - 1
20cm - 1 plus 1/4
23cm - 1 plus 1/2
25cm - x2

Bluebell2004's picture

Tastes great without the syrup

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