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Make an elegant and beautiful vanilla birthday cake from scratch for your loved one with this simple and easy recipe. Two light and airy vanilla sponge layers take only 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake while the delicious vanilla buttercream frosting takes only 5 minutes to whip.

A buttercream cake on a cake board.
Birthday Cake Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream

Do you need to birthday cake or perhaps an anniversary cake to celebrate? Here is a simple, easy, and fail-proof recipe you will enjoy making. This recipe makes a small 6-inch cake about 4 inches tall. You can double the recipe to make an 8-inch cake, other sizes are mentioned below.

It is also a very versatile cake. You can use it with frosting as well as fillings such as strawberry, blueberry, or other fruit fillings. One of my favorite cake filling with this is custard or pastry cream filling.

If you need a stable cake to stack at the bottom of a 4 tier wedding cake? This is it! I have used it to cover with fondant as well as modeling chocolate.

Ingredients and substitutes

  • Flour – I like cake flour for this recipe becuase it lends a wonderful soft cake with a tender crumb. If you do not have cake flour you can make your own cake flour subsitute
  • Buttermilk – adds a lovely soft crumb to the cake. You can make buttermilk for baking at home in just 5 minutes.
  • Vanilla – A good quality vanilla extract goes a long way. For vanilla cakes, I prefer bean paste for a stronger flavor but extract is wonderful as well.
  • Butter – unsalted room temperature butter is always best for cakes unless specified otherwise. It creams with the sugar to make a light and airy cake.
A sliced birthday cake recipe.
Birthday Cake Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream

Frequently asked questions

How long will this cake keep?

Unfrosted this cake will keep at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. Well wrapped in the fridge it will keep for a week. It can also be frozen for up to a month. Once frosted, it will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. In the fridge for a week and can be frozen for up to a month.

How to freeze cakes?

If you can’t use a cake immediately, I always recommend freezing rather than chilling. I find the freeze does a better job of locking in moisture as compared to the fridge.
Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap, then in parchment paper. If you plan to freeze it for longer, wrap it in aluminum foil again. The parchment will prevent freezer burns while the aluminum will keep the smell of other foods from getting into the cake.

Can I use this to make 8-inch cakes?

Absolutely! the recipe card below will calculate this recipe from 6 to 16 inches for you. Just use the automatic calculator below
1 x makes 2 x 6-inch round cakes
2x makes 2 x 8-inch round cakes
3x makes 2 – 10 inch round cakes
4x makes 2 x 12 inch round cakes, etc

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A sliced birthday cake recipe.

Vanilla Birthday Cake

5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Calories: 411kcal
Adjust Servings Here: 20 servings


Make an elegant and beautiful birthday cake from scratch for your loved one with this simple and easy recipe. This simple and easy cake uses light and airy vanilla sponge layers with melt in your mouth buttercream frosting. Perfect to celebrate your next birthday or anniversary. 


Cake batter

  • ½ cup (113 g) Butter unsalted, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) Sugar white
  • 2 cups (250 g) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Baking soda
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs large
  • ½ cup (120 ml) Buttermilk
  • 1 tsp ( ) Vanilla Extract


  • 1 cup (227 g) Butter Unsalted, room temperature
  • 4 cups (480 g) Powdered Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) Milk or whipping cream
  • 1 tsp ( ) Vanilla extract

Simple Syrup

  • ½ cup (100 g) Sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • ½ tsp Lemon juice


For the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F /165°C/ Gas Mark – 3
  • Grease and line 2 x 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  • Dry ingredients – Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Whip for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Next add the eggs, one at a time. Followed by the vanilla bean paste or extract.
    Pro tip– adding eggs one at a time will prevent the eggs from curdling. If the batter does curdle just add a tablespoon of flour to help stabilize it.
  • Next, add the flour and buttermilk in three batches. Combine well but do not over mix.
    Pro tip – we do not want to activate the gluten in the flour so work gently once you add the flour.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
    Pro tip – using baking/ cake strips for your pans will prevent a dome and excess caramelization around the edges which looks better for layer cakes.
  • Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
    Pro tip – always cool cakes completely before decorating otherwise the frosting will melt on warm cakes.

Simple syrup

  • To prepare the simple syrup, boil the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Once all the sugar is dissolved, boil a minute more – then cool completely.

Prepare buttercream

  • In the bow of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy.
  • Then, add the salt, and powdered sugar one cup at a time. Once all the powdered sugar is in add the water or milk and vanilla extract.
  • Continue to whip for 2 to 3 minutes until the buttercream is pale but light and fluffy.

Assemble the cake

  • Using a bread knife or cake leveler, level each cake layer by cutting the domes off. Brush each layer with simple syrup.
    Pro tip – Watch a video – how to level, torte, and fill cake like a pro.
  • Place the first layer on the cake board or cake stand. Add a dollop of buttercream and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Then, place the second layer on top. Chill the cake for 15 minutes.
    Pro tip – chilling the cake will help hold the two layers together and prevent them from moving while frosting the outside.
  • Color the remaining frosting using gel food color. I am using a rose pink color today.
  • Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag with a round piping tip. Pipe a line of dots vertically on the cake, then, use the tip of a spatula to pull the dot into a petal shape.
  • Alternatively, you can spread the buttercream on top and sides of the cake to make a smooth buttercream finish.
    Pro tip – an offset spatula for the top and a straight-edged spatula for the sides of the cake does a better job of smoothing. You can also dip a bench scraper in warm water for final smoothing
  • Continue until you have done this all around as well as on top of the cake.

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Nutrition Information
Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Birthday Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 411 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Cholesterol 88mg29%
Sodium 247mg11%
Potassium 91mg3%
Carbohydrates 52g17%
Fiber 0g0%
Sugar 42g47%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 700IU14%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 0.8mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you

Keywords – Birthday, Buttercream, Cake
Did you make this recipe? or use a tutorial posted here?Mention @cakedecoratingtutorials or #tag on Instagram #cakedecoratingtutorials

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  1. I made this for my daughter’s birthday last week, and it was a huge hit. I only make some buttercream swirls but it was so good.

    1. Thank you, Mavis. Happy you enjoyed this recipe. Thank you, for coming back to write this feedback.

  2. Such an easy recipe made it last week and now I am planning to make this again for my daughter’s graduation party. Love your recipes and detialed instructions Veena. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Mavis. Happy you enjoyed this and my other recipe. Thank you, for coming back to write this feedback.

5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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