The classic vanilla cake, yellow cake, birthday cake (whatever you wanna call it) done right. It’s soft, fluffy, vanilla-y, and chocolate-y! Simple and perfect.
4 complete two-layer vanilla cakes with chocolate buttercream frosting in 5 days. I baked them, I big-time
scarfed taste-tested them, and then I had enough of them… for a month.
But alas, the cake still wasn’t exactly the way I wanted it to be.
One of the things I love about cooking is that you can feel as you go along (typically), but with baking you really do need to stick to a single method and follow through until the end before you can see if it’s a hit, a miss, or something in between. I prefer cooking because it allows me to be creative and plus, my day job is basically baking. I mean, it’s scientific research if I gotta be exact but troubleshooting is troubleshooting. Change one variable and wait to see what the outcome is only after putting in your blood, sweat, and tears.
By the way, I totally did cry over this cake but I won’t digress.
So after a month of being caked-out, I picked back up again and baked the cake two more times until I finally achieved what I believe to be the most perfect and classic cake.
Honestly, it was the best vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream frosting I’d ever had. You could call it a ‘yellow cake’, but I’d rather go with the flavor than the color. And now that I think about it, doesn’t the color make it sound grossly artificial? Me no like.
The cake. It’s super soft and lovely and vanilla-y. And that’s not easy to come by. I usually find that vanilla cakes have at least one of three problems.
Either they’re too dry, they lack in the flavor department, or they sort of taste like cornbread when you close your eyes. I know that sounds very weird because no one pours cornmeal into cake batter. But I bet now that I’ve said it, you’ll notice it next time you eat a piece of vanilla cake. I’m tellin’ ya. It’s not all of them, but that taste certainly plagues the classic vanilla cake. I’m sorry to do that to you and I don’t want it to be so, but it’s the ugly truth.
Not this one though. Not my vanilla cake. ‘Cause homie don’t play that.
Also, the chocolate buttercream frosting, which is also the one I use for my soft chocolate cake recipe, is my favorite frosting in the world. And it is the easiest thing to make. So no need to mess with that stuff in the tin, yeah? Also again, those tins have way more than 5 ingredients made of stuff I can’t find in my kitchen. So no thanks.
I can’t really think of anything else to say because first of all it’s just a really delicious and wonderful cake, and at a certain point you simply need to make it and see what I mean.
Second of all, ummm, I’m starting to get really distracted and I’m the worst multitasker I’ve ever met. I just put on the movie “Selena” and thought maybe I could finish writing while playing the movie but yeah, I can’t.
I do need to say that after more recipe testing than I’ve ever done for any single recipe, I finally got it. And it’s awesome. And I wish I had a slice right now to go with my bidi bidi bom bom. Even though I literally just ate a pint of ice cream. Yeah, it happened. Sometimes it has to happen. Or maybe not. Either way, I think I’m going to go sing along to my movie now.
Selina’s singing Como la Flor!!
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- ½ cup Butter (1 stick), softened to room temp
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 2 ¼ cups Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 3 Eggs, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder (I prefer to use aluminum-free baking powder)
- 1 cup Buttermilk, room temperature
- ½ cup Water
- 1 ¾ sticks Butter, softened to room temperature
- 5 cups Powdered Sugar
- ¾ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- ½ cup Whole Milk
- 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF (162ºC).
- Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake pans, making sure to get the sides as well. Tap off the excess flour. Optional: You can also grease and flour circles of parchment paper that are cut to the size of the pans and placed inside.
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugar. Use a spatula as needed to scrape down the ingredients to the bottom of the bowl. Continue beating the mixture on high with the electric mixer for about 4 minutes in order to very thoroughly combine. Don’t hurry the process.
- Add vanilla and eggs. Beat on high speed for about 2 minutes or until very thick and pale. Again, don’t rush this part.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
- In another small bowl, combine buttermilk and water.
- Alternate between adding the flour mixture and then the buttermilk mixture to the large mixing bowl, using the electric mixer to incorporate the ingredients after each addition until just combined. Don’t overmix, even at the end.
- Pour batter evenly into your two cake pans and place in oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.
- In a large mixing bowl (I wash and use the same one I used for the batter), combine butter and powdered sugar with a spatula and then an electric mixer.
- Add in cocoa powder and mix.
- Add in milk and vanilla. Mix until fully combined and appears whipped.