Prep Time
20 Mins
Makes about 6 cups

This basic vanilla cake batter is the perfect beginning to beautiful cakes, cupcakes, and petits fours.


How to Make It

Step 1

Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.

Step 2

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; add to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at medium-low speed just until blended after each addition. (Batter will be thick.) Use immediately.

Step 3

Ultimate Vanilla Cake Batter: Substitute 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste for vanilla extract. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Step 4

Chocolate Cake Batter: Reduce cake flour to 2 cups. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step Whisk 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa into flour mixture in Step 2; proceed with recipe as directed. Beat 1/3 cup hot water into batter just until smooth.

Chef's Notes

Add an additional 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract if you do not have almond extract.

Ratings & Reviews

BogeysMom's Review

August 30, 2014
I'm going to have to give this only one star although I'd like to give it zero. There's no way of telling how much batter this makes. Is it enough for one 8" round or two? Is it enough for an 8" square pan, a 9" square pan, or a 9"x13" rectangular pan? And what temperature does one bake it at -- probably 350° since that's what most cakes bake at but who knows? If they ever get around to finishing this recipe then maybe I'll try it. But until then it's only half a loaf and certainly NOT better than none.

TerriW's Review

April 20, 2014
Bake this at 325 degrees. The time depends on pan kind and size. I'm making a bunt dark pan and going to check it after 30 min with a tooth pick. And then every 5 min after that. I would imagine cupcakes would take a little shorter baking time and should be checked after 15 min.

kristiegilles's Review

February 12, 2012

Anneco's Review

August 05, 2010
If you use cake flour, vanilla paste, and fresh, good eggs, this is a fantastic cake! You really need to use real butter as well. The Irish or European butter is great. This recipe exposes any short cut, and rewards good ingredients!!

kellynn's Review

November 18, 2009
To Thea: The temp and time are listed under Basic Layer Cake

carolns's Review

August 13, 2009
I have made this recipe three or four times. The first time I made it, I thought it a bit dry. I have decided that two or three things are necessary for it to be the really super recipe it can be. First of all, it needs to be refrigerated. Secondly, you definitely need to use cake flour as the recipe calls for. Don't overcook the cake, and always keep it tightly wrapped. If you do those things, I think you will find that the cake stays moist and delicious. It is a dense cake, but it is really good, especially with the buttercreme frosting. It's a good cake to decorate for special occasions.

livetoloveYou55's Review

May 11, 2009
Very dry. I did not read any reviews before baking this cake, but this is the first cake recipe I've tried from Southern Living that is dry. Used the blackberry frosting, which was good.

KyGirl1981's Review

May 10, 2009
After reading the reviews, I was very hesitant about making this case, but I did and it was wonderful. It was actually very moist (not dry at all).

Linda007's Review

May 02, 2009
I baked mini cupcakes using this recipe. I tinted the vanilla buttercream frosting with pastel colors for a baby shower. I got rave reviews and was asked for the recipe. This is a keeper.

TigerBandMom's Review

April 12, 2009
I wish I had read the reviews. I usually do before I make a recipe. I made this cake this weekend for Easter with the chocolate buttercream icing. The cake was terrible. I followed the recipe excactly and what a disappointment! The icing was delicious and the only redeeming feature. The cake was very dense and dry and really very bland tasting to me. IT was a lot work and trouble to make and have it not come out great. The cake was beautiful to look at because I decorated it with spring confetti sprinkles and Easter eggs. Too bad it was not palatable.