Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

This is my new favorite vanilla cake and I was in vanilla heaven.

I didn’t miss chocolate one bit as I was going to town on this vanilla number.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - You won't miss chocolate at all after trying this cake! The glaze is just heavenly!!!

Some of my fondest birthday cake memories growing up are of white sheet cakes with inch-thick pink frosting and big frosting roses that my mom had made for me from a local bakery. Some people avoid thick, abundant frosting but those are the pieces I seek out.

In honor of its 125th birthday on September 28, McCormick has released a new vanilla extract, Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract, to help celebrate. McCormick marks its 125th anniversary by celebrating the role flavor plays in all of our lives, inspiring flavorful conversation, and giving back to communities around the world.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - You won't miss chocolate at all after trying this cake! The glaze is just heavenly!!!

The new vanilla is 25% stronger than classic vanilla and it’s a perfect balance between sweet caramel and bourbon-rummy flavors. For a vanilla, caramel, bourbon, and rum fanatic, it’s absolutely perfect and made the cake taste extra vanilla-ey.

Coupled with the same Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze I recently made for Banana Bread Bars, I was in vanilla happy-land.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - You won't miss chocolate at all after trying this cake! The glaze is just heavenly!!!

It’s an easy, no mixer cake that adapted my favorite buttermilk cake base that I’ve used for so many cakes including Blueberry Muffin and Buttermilk Pancakes CakeCranberry White Chocolate Chip Bliss CakePeaches and Cream Fluffy Muffin CakeCream Cheese-Swirled Cherry and Mixed Berries Cake, The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake.

I love the cake base because it’s fast and easy to make, and the cakes always turn out supremely moist, springy, and fluffy thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. That trifecta of moisturizing and tenderizing ingredients makes it impossible to have a dry cake.

The glaze really helps make this cake and it’s just out-of-this world amazing. The secrets are browned butter and glorious specks of vanilla beans. If you’ve never browned butter, read this tutorial. The 5 minutes it takes is the best 5 minutes you’ll spend all month.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - You won't miss chocolate at all after trying this cake! The glaze is just heavenly!!!

Between the browned butter and vanilla beans seeds, flavor just explodes from the glaze and it helps boost the overall vanilla flavor profile to the next level. The glaze seeps down and soaks into the cake, making it even moister, softer, and richer tasting.

Definitely did not miss the chocolate.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - You won't miss chocolate at all after trying this cake! The glaze is just heavenly!!!

Print Recipe

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

This is my new favorite vanilla cake and you'll be in vanilla heaven. It’s an easy, no mixer cake that adapted my favorite buttermilk cake base. Cakes always turn out supremely moist, springy, and fluffy thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. The glaze really helps make this cake and it’s just out-of-this world amazing. The secrets are browned butter and glorious specks of vanilla beans, which help boost the overall vanilla flavor profile. You won't miss the chocolate here.

Yield: one 8x8 pan, 9 to 12 generous squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: about 29 - 32 mintues

Total Time: about 2 1/2 hours, for cooling

Ingredients:

Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk 
1/3 cup sour cream, lite is okay (plain Greek yogurt may be substituted)
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract

Glaze
1/4 cup unsalted butter, browned (how to brown butter tutorial)
1 heaping cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 large vanilla bean; 1 tablespoon McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract extract may be substituted)
pinch salt, optional and to taste
about 1/4 cup cream or milk, or as necessary for consistency

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Cake - In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt; set aside.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon or folding with a spatula until just combined. Small lumps will be present, don't overmix or try to stir them smooth.
  5. Turn batter out into prepared pan and bake for about 29 to 32 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
  6. Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool. While cake cools, make the glaze.
  7. Glaze - Brown the butter (click for tutorial). Cook butter over medium-high heat in a small saucepan until it's amber to brown in color, about 5 minutes depending on pan size, but watch it closely so you don't burn it. I swirl the pan in the last minute or so to make sure I can really see the color changes. Butter will go through stages of hissing, sputtering, and making noise until the water cooks off at which point the browning occurs. Butter will smell nutty and aromatic.
  8. Transfer butter, including brown bits at the bottom of the pan (they're flavor powerhouses, keep them) from pan to large mixing bowl which stops any carryover cooking.
  9. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla bean paste, optional salt, and slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth or beat with a handheld electric mixer. As necessary, add additional cream (or confectioners' sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency.  Glaze should be of medium thickness and easily pourable.
  10. Evenly pour glaze over cake (doesn't have to be fully cooled), smoothing it lightly with a spatula if necessary, but glaze will likely just slide into place.
  11. Allow cake to cool in pan uncovered for at least 2 hours (or overnight and cover with a sheet of foil) before slicing and serving so glaze can set up. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Cake base adapted from Blueberry Muffin and Buttermilk Pancakes Cake, Glaze adpated from Fudgy Banana Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

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102 comments

  1. Pinned and tried this cake last night and it was so easy and tastes awesome! I didn’t make the glaze but will definitely try it next time, thanks for this amazing recipe!

    • Thanks for pinning and trying the cake and glad it came out great for you and the glaze is just so good! Hope you can make that next time but glad you liked the cake even without it!

  2. Hi there! I love this cake recipe, and have also made the lemon version. Yum! I am wondering if you have a chocolate version because my house is full of chocophiles and it seems like it would make a delicious chocolate cake!

  3. Hi there. I want to try and triple the recipe for the vanilla cake and make a layer cake with it. Do you think it is sturdy enough for stacking?

    Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried it that way but I believe others have mentioned doing so in the comments so I think you will be fine, although I cannot vouch for this personally.

  4. Wonderful recipe again! Too bad we can’t find this excuisite vanilla extract in the Netherlands, as I would love to use it. I’ll stick with my regular vanilla extract for now.

  5. Mohamad Zulfadhli Reply

    Hi! Your cake looks really delicious. I really want to try it. Can I substitute sour cream or greek yogurt with just regular plain yogurt? Thanks!

    • No because it’s too thin and runny and the batter will become overly thin and runny.

    • I actually did just this recently. I didn’t have sour cream or greek yogurt, but i had trader joes whole milk european yogurt and it turned out great! in fact, I won the baking competition at a class with that cake! I didn’t have the buttermilk either btw, and used milk + vinegar. all was well!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you given all the substitutions and that you won the baking comp with my recipe!

  6. I pinned this so long ago and finally found the perfect occasion to make it. I’m wondering how you think this would turn out cooked in a bundt pan? The pourable glaze gave me the idea. Any thoughts on whether it would work/cooking time if so?

    • If you do make it as a Bundt, it will be a ‘short’ Bundt if your Bundt is standard sized, usually about 9-10 cups, because there’s just not that much batter to make a big, tall Bundt. Baking time will probably be reduced but I haven’t tried so can’t speak to results for sure.

  7. Hi there Averie!
    this has been a favorite recipe for a while now and i’m making a layer cake for a party tomorrow. Tonight I made 4x the frosting and had the odd experience of the butter kind of separating from the frosting. I’ve never had this problem the other times I’ve made the frosting… I used unsalted butter and forgot to add a pinch of salt, and I’m wondering if that might have something to do with it? I’m so bummed bc it was a whole cup of butter and I really need to have a nice frosting for the cake tomorrow. I’m just wondering if you might have any explanation for this? thank you!

    • Sometimes you can actually overwhip butter and sugar and it can separate and become a bit loose and runny. I haven’t had it happen often but over the years, yes, it’s happened. I think you were maybe just a bit too zealous in your whipping and next time make sure to stop before it gets to that point.

  8. Hi Averie! 

    I want to make this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday this weekend. I’m planning on using the vinegar + milk combination for the buttermilk, but do you know whether using skim milk would change anything? 

    • Since it’s a birthday cake and you have time to run to the store, buy the buttermilk. It will give you a better overall result. The vinegar and milk trick is great in a pinch but nothing can replace buttermilk in my opinion. And skim milk…meh…not really the best milk to bake with as it’s so thin. Again, go pick up that buttermilk :)

  9. “1 tablespoon McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract extract may be substituted”

    That sounds like a lot of vanilla extract! I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than one or two teaspoons in a recipe before. I guess if we add that much liquid extract, it’s probably better to go easy on the milk?

    Anyway, I’m really excited to try this recipe! I remembered this light brown glaze from cakes my grandmother used to make, but I had no idea what it was called or how it was made. And then I stumble on this recipe: this is it! Browned butter!

    You can be sure I’ll be baking this cake very, very soon!

    • 1 tbsp = 3 tsp

      So if you feel like adding 1, 2, or 3 tsp go with what sounds best to you. The point is that it’s a VANILLA cake so I want it really vanilla-ey but do what you think is best. Enjoy!

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