Easy vanilla cake

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Vanilla is often taken for granted as an ingredient, yet its gentle, heady flavour is something to be celebrated. Angela Field puts it to good use in this stunning easy vanilla cake recipe, complete with some subtle summery decorations.

First published in 2016
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Harvested from a type of orchid, vanilla is one of the most decadent flavours in baking, and comes in many varieties and preparations. Pods bursting with seeds are added to custard, sugar is steeped with the whole fruit until the flavour of vanilla has been absorbed, and finally the spent pods and lower grade fruit have their flavour preserved in the form of vanilla extract.

To showcase the deliciousness of this ingredient I have created a vanilla sponge cake decorated with vanilla buttercream. Fondant daisies are added for a touch of fun, but if you don’t have the cutters, or the inclination, they can be left out as they don’t impact the flavour of the finished cake.

This is such an easy cake to make and it’s great for a birthday or a celebration as it can be prepared in advance and decorated to suit the occasion. Layer cakes usually use a combination of multiple flavours, so something as simple as vanilla is often overlooked. If you prefer, jam can be used to sandwich the layers together, but I like the flavour of vanilla running through the whole cake.




Vanilla cake

  • 250g of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 250g of caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, in a jug
  • 100g of natural yoghurt, plain
  • 335g of plain flour, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp of skimmed milk


  • 250g of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 600g of icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp of skimmed milk
  • 150g of fondant icing
  • yellow food colouring


Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. Grease a round 20cm x 8cm deep tin and line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper
In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until it is pale and fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. The batter will become loose and soupy, this is fine. Once combined, add the yoghurt and beat well
Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape off any batter that is stuck to the beater
Combine the flour and baking powder and gently fold into the batter until completely mixed. Add the milk and give it a final stir
Scrape the mix into the prepared tin and bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour 20 and minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean
When ready, leave the cake to cool completely before removing from the tin. Once cool, the cake can be wrapped in cling film and kept for up to 2 days before icing, or it can be frozen for up to a month
Make the icing by placing the butter in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment fitted
Whisk the butter on low-medium speed and slowly add spoonfuls of the icing sugar, making sure it’s completely mixed in before adding more. You may need to use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl
When half of the icing sugar has been mixed in, add the milk and vanilla extract. Whisk the icing to mix it in and then continue to add the remaining icing sugar a spoonful at a time
Take the cooled cake and slice it evenly into 3 layers. Take the top layer of the cake and place it on the bottom of your plate or cake stand. Spread a little of the buttercream evenly on top of the cake
Place the middle section of cake on top, spread some more buttercream over it, then reverse the last layer of cake, so that the side which went against the bottom of the tin is now on the top
Spread a thin layer of icing all over the cake to act as a crumb coat and place the cake in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes
When the cake has chilled, spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake and smooth using a stepped palette knife
To decorate the cake, roll out some fondant icing to a thickness of around 2–3mm. Using daisy-shaped plunger cutters, cut out an assortment of daisies to decorate the cake with
Take the yellow food colouring and using a small paint brush, paint a yellow centre in the middle of the daisies. Leave the icing to set for around an hour to become brittle and then press them into the sides and top of the iced cake
Serve at room temperature, the cake will keep for 3–4 days in an airtight container
First published in 2016

In her spare time, Angela develops recipes for her blog Patisserie Makes Perfect and indulges in her passion for photography. As the name would suggest, she has a keen interest in patisserie and strives to use the best possible ingredients and classical techniques throughout her work.

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