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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30th Nov, 2017
I've used this cake for both lemon and vanilla birthday cake with excellent results. can I adapt the recipe to make chocolate cake or does anyone know of a good chocolate cake that will be strong enough to be fondant iced for a birthday cake? tia x
7th Jul, 2017
Made this today to form their 2 of naked wedding cake trial. The top half of the cake shrunk onwards. Any ideas why that might be? It was very easy cake to make and timings accurate
Gemma H
12th Jun, 2017
Hav made this twice, first with the tin as stated, second time split between 2 20cm sandwich tins without syrup but added extra half tsp vanilla and halved the baking time. Both were lovely.
27th Apr, 2017
How can I adapt the measurements for a 23cm cake. Don't want it to be thin. Thank you
3rd May, 2017
Try the cakeometer on http://www.cakebaker.co.uk/baking-tin-size-conversion-calculator.html you just add the original ingredients / quantities and cake tin size then input what cake tin size you want to use and it calculates the quantities for you.
24th Apr, 2017
Made this for work. Made 2/3 of the quantity and baked in a 20cm tin. Sliced in half and sandwiched with raspberry jam and buttercream and dusted the top with icing sugar. Made about half the quantity of drizzle and sure this helped with the moistness. Went down a treat.
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 :)


6th Aug, 2017
How could i adapt this recipe to make a lemon sponge and a chocolate sponge?
goodfoodteam's picture
7th Aug, 2017
Thanks for your question. We have this lemon cake: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4576/wedding-cake-zingy-lemon and this chocolate cake: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4577/wedding-cake-rich-dark-chocolate-cake which we've designed especially for weddings. We hope these appeal.
5th Aug, 2017
I would like to make this cake for the bottom tier of my wedding cake how much ingredients will i need for a 30cm instead of 20cm please
goodfoodteam's picture
7th Aug, 2017
Thank you for your question. We have not tested this recipe in different sizes so are not able to give you exact quantities or cooking times. We'd suggest using a recipe for a 30cm cake if you don't feel confident experimenting. We have a simple wedding cake here which may help you work create your cake: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4578/creating-your-wedding-cake Enjoy your Big Day!
15th Jul, 2017
I am planning to use this recipe as the basis for a 3 tier wedding cake which will have a vanilla layer, a lemom layer and a chocolate layer. I can work out how to adapt this recipe for a lemon cake but can anyone suggest a good way to adapt this for a chocolate flavoured cake? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
17th Jul, 2017
Thanks for your question. You could replace some of the plain flour with cocoa powder. We haven't tested this alternative so can't give an exact quantity. If it's for a wedding cake, it might be worth doing a dummy run so you're sure you're happy with the results. Alternatively for guaranteed results, you could try our rich dark chocolate wedding cake recipe: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4577/wedding-cake-rich-dark-chocolate-cake Good luck!
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


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