Easy vanilla cake

Easy vanilla cake

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(137 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 eggs, 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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23rd Dec, 2016
Easy, even for a first-time baker...
9th Oct, 2016
Delicious, moist, tasty, beautiful cake!
7th Jul, 2016
Just tried this recipe out for a kids birthday cake, it's perfect! The top did crack but I cut that bit off to level it out anyway so no issues! Will defiantly use this again
17th May, 2016
Can anyone advise how to multiply this recipe for a 12x12 inch square cake? Thanks :)
11th May, 2016
A great recipe. Got a little wicked and used rum instead of syrup.
Country mouse A...
4th Apr, 2016
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.
17th Mar, 2016
How high should this cake in a 20cm tin rise? Can't get it above 2inches and top cracks every time
17th Mar, 2016
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
11th Oct, 2015
Forgot to rate
11th Oct, 2015
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 :-)


18th Apr, 2017
It says "the unfilled cake will keep well for up to 3 days" but if I bake and cover in butter icing on a Monday, will it be ok to eat 4 days later on the Friday?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th Apr, 2017
If you want to bake the cake on the Monday, we'd suggest freezing without the buttercream until later in the week. For tips on how to get ahead with your cake take a look at our simple elegance wedding cake here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/11278/simple-elegance-wedding-cake
17th Apr, 2017
Thinking of making this for a party where it will need to be served up to 16-18 kids. Do you think it will stretch that far?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th Apr, 2017
Thanks for your question, yes it should be fine for 16-18 smaller children's portions especially if iced. We also have a variety of large cakes here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/search/recipes?query=cakes#query=cakes&path=serving/%5B9+TO+*%5D Plus a kids' party cake collection here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/kids-party-cakes
15th Mar, 2017
Just making this cake but didn't seem much mixture did anyone else think this
goodfoodteam's picture
16th Mar, 2017
Thanks for your question. We can assure you this is the right amount of mixture for the 20cm deep round tin, serving 12.
6th Jan, 2017
How do I turn the easy vanilla cake into a 8 & 12 inch square cake, please help
27th Aug, 2016
what can I substitute for Full-fat Greek yogurt ?
goodfoodteam's picture
8th Sep, 2016
Thanks for your question. We can only guarantee the results of any of our recipes with the ingredients we have tested. It depends what you hope to achieve as well. If you're looking to reduce fat content, it should be born in mind that the fat content affects the texture of the finished cake. You could try experimenting with a lower fat content or try one of our low-fat cake recipes instead. Good luck!
24th Aug, 2016
Do the flours need to be sifted before adding to the mix?


27th Dec, 2014
I made this cake for my brother's bday and it turned out really good! My good.
9th May, 2014
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 Square: 18cm - 1 20cm - 1 plus 1/4 23cm - 1 plus 1/2 25cm - x2
1st Nov, 2013
Tastes great without the syrup