Easy vanilla cake

Easy vanilla cake

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(187 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


  • 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.

  3. Add 1 tbsp of the plain flour if the mix starts to look slimy rather than fluffy. Beat in the yogurt. Mix the flours; then, using a large metal spoon, fold them into the batter, followed by the milk.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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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Barbara Morton's picture
Barbara Morton
23rd Jul, 2020
I approached this recipe with some trepidation as some of the comments had predicted a disaster. I needn't have worried. It was a lovely cake, a little dense, but certainly not in the least unpleasant. I can only conclude that the people who had a bad experience with it made mistakes with the recipe. It was a doddle to make and turned out beautifully. I cut it in two slices, having removed the domed top, and sandwiched it with jam and buttercream. I didn't use the syrup and I don't think it needs it. I also covered it with buttercream and it was absolutely fantastic. Will definitely make it again.
tillyfloss80's picture
13th Feb, 2020
Lovely, moist cake. Made a buttercream icing, definitely worth making again.
28th Jan, 2020
Love this recipe. Novice but keen baker. Beautifully moist cake. Love the syrup addition. The cake is meant to be dense. Making sure all ingredients are room temp, is key to a good end result. Will be using this recipe for future celebration cakes
Gemma Vaughan-Jones's picture
Gemma Vaughan-Jones
22nd Jan, 2020
My go to cake recipe for birthdays and occasions, after first coming across this recipe when I made it for my wedding in 2012. It is a dense cake, you do have to be careful with over mixing, but it is really delicious when buttercream, jam and icing are added.
22nd Oct, 2019
The cake looked great, but tasted distinctly average. I didn’t do the syrup, but layered with buttercream and jam, with a buttercream topping. The texture is a bit odd and quite hard. I was quite disappointed and won’t be making it again.
14th Sep, 2019
I made this recipe two years ago for my son’s engagement party. It is still remembered as being ‘the best cake ever’! I quadrupled the recipe for a 12” square tin. I read a lot online about baking such a big cake and the best bit of advice was to make a ‘coat’ of layers of newspaper to stop the outside of the cake cooking too quickly. I currently have a smaller cake ( 2 x recipe) in the oven. I hope it is as good as the first time I made it!
13th Sep, 2019
I've made this cake several times now and it always turns out perfectly. I don't use the syrup on sponge at end. I slice cake in half and layer with butter cream (recipe under Tips) and jam then cover the whole cake with butter cream then cover with shop bought ready to roll icing. Goodfood has helpful pages with tips for baking cakes so if you're an amateur baker like me then I'd recommend reading them first. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-make-cake-top-10-tips-success
1st Sep, 2019
Just wasted my money. The came was disgusting and like styrofoam don’t let the picture fool you
Nancy Immanuel's picture
Nancy Immanuel
20th Jul, 2019
I made this for my sons dedication. Very disappointed with the outcome. I have made several cake in the past, but this recipe is something not right. Wonder how its showing 5*, only if you go in and read the comments I have realised ppl have commented the same problem, cake split while baking and shrunk after cooked, making it very very dense.
23rd Aug, 2018
This cake has always worked for me but not this time. Used a 12” tin and 3x the recipe. Cake split badly on top, didn’t cook completely in the middle (despite my putting a skewer in several places and it coming out clean). Disappointed.


26th Jun, 2020
What inch cake tin is this recipe for?
lulu_grimes's picture
29th Jun, 2020
Hi, 20cm = 8 inch. The simple (and rough) way to convert cm to inches is to minus 4 and then divide by 2. 20 - 4 = 16 divided by 2 = 8 I hope this helps, Lulu
Erica Dholoo's picture
Erica Dholoo
13th Feb, 2020
I just can't find the "Goes Well With" section that is mentioned for tips on how to decorate. Please help. It would be good to put the link in where it's mentioned at the bottom of the recipe.
lulu_grimes's picture
13th Feb, 2020
Hi, I've pasted the links below, because each has a picture attached they have to sit down the side of the recipe. I've also pasted some links to guides for more decoration ideas. I hope this helps. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/simple-elegance-wedding-cake https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/summer-celebration-cake https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/birthday-bug-cake https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-decorate-cake-piping-and-simple-decorations
Kelli Feltham's picture
Kelli Feltham
2nd Apr, 2019
Hi Guys Making a 10 inch a 9 inch and 6 inch can anyone advise measurement for those sizes? TIA
12th Nov, 2018
Does this keep in the fridge for 3 days before or after adding the syrup?
goodfoodteam's picture
14th Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. Wrap well after adding the syrup and it will keep for three days - it does not need to go in the fridge.
26th Sep, 2018
Following on from my last post the cake is now in the bin. I ended up with a pool of oil in the bottom of the oven and a cake that was a lump of grease. Not sure what I’ve done wrong. First time I’ve made a cake this big. Tripled the ingredients and followed the instructions. Any advice would be welcome.
goodfoodteam's picture
3rd Oct, 2018
We're sorry to hear your cake didn't work out. Creating a large cake like this needs extra time as you make sure each stage is thoroughly complete before moving on to the next. Ensure there are no pockets of mixture that haven't been incorporated and don't be tempted to rush the eggs. Adding a couple of spoons of flour in between each egg helps to keep the mixture together. But if the mixture does split, when you add the remaining flour at the end, make sure it's thoroughly blended in. Use electric beaters if you need to. It is a fine line though, you want the mixture to be well combined but not over-beaten as the flour can toughen the cake. We hope this helps if you decide to try it again.
26th Sep, 2018
I’m making the elegance wedding cake using the easy vanilla recipe. I’ve followed the recipe exactly but the mixture split as soon as I started adding the eggs. Tried adding some flour but it didn’t help. All ingredients were at room temperature. Any ideas where I’ve gone wrong?


16th May, 2018
Weigh eggs 1st Sugar, butter and flour need to be same weight as eggs Beat sugar and butter for a good 5-10 mins on fastest setting Beat the eggs well with whisk so light and airy before adding to sugar and butter Your cake will now rise beautifully
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
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