Sunday, January 26, 2014

No-Fail Vanilla Cake Recipe

So I know I said the Perfect Vanilla Cupcake from the other day was, well, perfect.  It is, trust me.  However, it is a cake for those cupcakes that require fillings.  Did I mention that?  Those cupcakes can withstand being poked and stuffed to the gills with a white chocolate ganache, or lemon curd.  Those cupcakes have a slighty sweet flavour that won't overpower or takeaway from your delicious filling and frosting.  While they are great unstuffed, those cupcakes have a slightly denser texture than this recipe I'm about to share.  

No-Fail Vanilla Cake Recipe
Now I can't take credit for this recipe as it has been around for years.  It is actually adapted from a Betty Crocker Cookbook!  Betty Crocker---the famous boxed cakes available in every grocery store and convenience store has a SCRATCH recipe cookbook!  

If I didn't know any better, I would've thought that this WAS a box mix, because of it's delicate, fluffy interior and superb vanilla flavour.  Now this is not a cake that can tolerate any sort of filling or heavy frosting, but would pair nice with a lightly flavoured whipped cream frosting, marshmallow frosting or any type of meringue based frosting.  


  • 2.5 cups cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated white sugar 
  • 1 tablespoons + 1/2 tsp baking powder (be sure it is aluminum free)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup shortening 
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
1.  Sift all of your dry ingrediants together over a large mixing bowl (cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt), OR dump all of the dry ingrediants into the bowl and mix using a balloon whisk to remove any lumps.

You don't want this in your cake

2.  Now dump your shortening, sourcream and flavouring into the dry ingrediants.  Yup, just dump it all in there.  We are not creaming anything, or alternating any wet or dry ingrediants. There really is no way of going wrong, unless of course you can't measure...  

3.  Mix all of those wet and dry ingrediants for about a minute, or until it looks like a thick paste.  If you have ever made a box mix you know they never look like this.  Don't be scared, you are on the right track.  

4.  Scrape down the sides of your bowl, and now dump in your eggs.  There is no need to pre-whisk the eggs or even add them in one at a time.  Just toss em in and set the mixer to medium for a minute.  Scrape down your bowl and let it go for another 30 seconds.  That's it!  You're done!

5.  You should now have a thick, aromatic lump-free batter ready for 2 - 8" round cake pans or 2 -12 cavity muffin pans or 2 - 24 cavity mini muffin pans.  Did I confuse you?  Bake in whatever pan you like, as long you have greased it and lined it with either parchment or muffin liners.

Bake these at 325F for dark coated pans and 350F for light coloured pans.  Cupcakes will take anywhere from 15-20 minutes, so start checking at 15 minutes.  Mini cupcakes will take about 12-14 minutes and 8" round cakes are between 25-28 minutes.   Baking times will vary of course depending on your oven.  You can rotate the pans halfway through, or once the cupcakes have crowned (meaning they have that dome shape).  If you forget to, no worries, they will still turn out just fine.  This is a no-fail recipe, remember?

Cupcakes rising as they should

6.  To check for doneness I touch the tops of the cupcakes slightly, and if they spring back they are done.  If the idea of man-handling those cupcakes grosses you out, poke a toothpick in the centre.  A few crumbs attached is perfect, anything sticky or goopey leave em in a minute or two longer, and if nothing is attached pulls those babies out now!  You don't want dry cupcakes!

Use an ice cream scoop for uniform cupcakes
7.  Let them cool in the pans slightly then remove and let them completely cool on a wire rack, and then frost with a light frosting.  Of course you can frost these with whatever you like, but I believe a heavy frosting would take away from such a light and airy cake.  


1.  If the sound of using shortening makes you wanna gag, use unsalted butter.  Butter will work just fine, but make note that the end result will be a little denser than the original recipe.  This denser cake would work well as a layer cake.  If you want a cake that is good for carving and can withstand fondant, try a mudcake.  I will have a recipe for that up sometime in February.     

2.  If you want the fluffy texture but fear that shortening won't give you that buttery flavour, try this:

Or, just add in 1 tsp of butter flavoured emulsion.  

3.  Ran out of sour cream?  Go ahead and substitute an equal amount of plain yogurt, vanilla yogurt or even greek yogurt.  If you only have low-fat, be sure to drain the whey, as we don't want to add anymore liquid.

4.  Are you looking for an all white cake, without that slight ivory tinge?  Use 4-5 large egg whites in place of the whole eggs.

5.  Not a fan of vanilla?  Replace the extract with whatever extract you like---lemon is lovely in this recipe and maybe even pair it with a raspberry frosting.  

6.  Like peanut butter cake?  Replace the shortening with an equal amount of creamy peanut butter.  Top it with a chocolate whipped cream for a light yet flavourful dessert.

Hope all of you try this super easy, super delicious No-Fail Vanilla Cake recipe.    

Happy Baking!

*As a side note, there is nothing wrong with using a boxed cake mix.  I have used one in a pinch, doctored it up to taste less chemically and more homemade and no one was the wiser. However, with a recipe as easy as the one above, why bother? 

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