Easy vanilla cake

Easy vanilla cake

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(142 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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11th May, 2016
A great recipe. Got a little wicked and used rum instead of syrup.
Country mouse Aberdeenshire's picture
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 :-)
30th Jul, 2015
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
13th Jun, 2015
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.
7th Jul, 2017
The syrup has vanilla so perhaps qty needs adjusting
1st Jun, 2015
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.


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?
goodfoodteam's picture
1st Sep, 2016
Hi there, no the flours don't need to be sifted. We always state if it's required in a recipe. Hope that helps!
17th Mar, 2016
How high should this 20cm cake rise? Can't get it to go above 2 inches and top cracks every time
goodfoodteam's picture
20th May, 2016
Hi there. We don't have a record of the height of the finished cake unfortunately however, looking at the number of eggs in this cake we would expect it to be deeper than 2inches once baked. We have some guides to baking which might be of use such as this one: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-make-cake-top-10-problems-fixed hope this helps. 
Hema A
5th Jan, 2016
Hello.. Is there an eggless version of this recipe?? Please do post the eggless version of vanilla sponge cake...


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