Easy vanilla cake

Easy vanilla cake

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(140 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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6th Aug, 2013
I made this last month for my daughter's wedding cake. It was a three tier round cake with 12", 9" and 6" cakes but after a few practice tests decided to omit the syrup. It was perfect! I used the Simple Elegance Wedding Cake instructions on this site to work out the measures of mixture needed and made the cakes over a couple of days. I decorated it differently but it looked amazing. The cake was still moist and tasty a full week after it was made. This week I'm making it as a four tier square wedding cake for my son's wedding....
5th Aug, 2013
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5th Aug, 2013
I found this cake very stodgy so will be reverting back to my original cake recipe. It wasn't light and fluffy like I like a cake to be, too moist for my liking.
31st Jul, 2013
Used this recipe for my son's birthday cake, very happy with the result. Baked it for a little over an hour, just depends on your oven. Will be using this recipe again.
25th Jul, 2013
I baked this for my birthday party and the cake turned out perfectly and was easy to make. Everyone said how delicious it was and I think the vanilla bean paste gives it a lovely flavour. I made the syrup with half the amount of water stated and it still seemed watery, but made the cake really moist and added lots of flavour. I baked for the stated 1hr20mins and the cake was if anything very slightly overdone at the edges - unusual in my oven which seems to be a little on the cool side, so if your oven tends to be hot I would give it a bit less time. It definitely didn't ruin the cake though! I covered the cake with the buttercream, adding 100g milkybar as stated in the related bug birthday cake recipe - there was enough buttercream leftover to have made this into a sandwich cake if I wanted to. I will definitely make again when I have the chance!
15th Jul, 2013
I used this recipe for the first time last week for a 2 tier celebration cake as an alternative to the standard madeira cake I would usually make. I doubled the quantities for a 10" deep round and used 1 x quantity for a 7" deep round. I found I needed to cook for longer than I anticpated but kept a watchful eye and tested with the skewer until cooked through. The cake was cut on Saturday and it went down a storm. It is the most moist cake I have ever made and everyone was raving about it. I'm now curious to know whether I can replace the vanilla flavourings in the sponge, syrup and butter icing with lemon and if it will be as successful. I'll post again once I've experimented!
14th Jul, 2013
I've made this a couple of times and it's always gone down very well!
23rd Jun, 2013
I made this 3 times to layer up a carved novelty flip flop cake. I used the Alan silverwood 12" square tin, using the compartment to make a 12" by 9" cake. The layers came out just over 3cm each time, taking 40 minutes in a non fan oven. I soaked with syrup each time. Much better than tripling or doubling the recipe then slicing it. I just had the remove any slight doming (although not much because I scoped the uncooked mixture in the middle before cooking) then flip on its top so very flat. I baked, filled with buttercream and jam, then crumb coat of buttercream, then covered with fondant icing on Wednesday. Placed on board and wrapped with clingfilm. We just cut into cake on Saturday and it was so moist, should keep until Monday at very least. Delighted with combination of easy carving, tasty AND moist. Beats a regular Madeira!
30th Jun, 2013
Thanks for that x
31st May, 2013
Baked this in a 13" x 9" pan for 1 hour 30 mins and it turned out, i Paul Hollywood speak, as a very good bake. The cake rose evenly, was light moist and tasty. It will become my first choice of vanilla sponge in the future and also hope to adapt the recipe for a lemon drizzle loaf.


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