Easy vanilla cake

Easy vanilla cake

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(139 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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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.
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.
13th Nov, 2014
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.
30th Oct, 2014
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
16th Oct, 2014
Did this for my daughters 2nd birthday. Beautiful cake, really moist and very easy to make. Lot of compliments from it.


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...
goodfoodteam's picture
4th Feb, 2016
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.
18th Jul, 2015
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
4th Feb, 2016
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.
17th Feb, 2015
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.
6th Feb, 2015
I find this splits if I used butter rather than stork, why would this be??
goodfoodteam's picture
9th Feb, 2015
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. 


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