Vanilla Cake From Scratch — Move over chocolate, because vanilla has arrived. This no mixer, easy vanilla cake is topped with a browned butter glaze that’s impossible to resist!

Vanilla Cake From Scratch

Moist Vanilla Cake From Scratch

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.

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 this easy vanilla cake taste extra vanilla-ey.

Coupled with the same vanilla bean browned butter glaze I recently made for my Banana Bread Bars, I was in vanilla happy-land. I didn’t miss chocolate one bit as I was going to town on this moist vanilla cake.

This no mixer, easy vanilla cake recipe is adapted from my favorite buttermilk cake base that I’ve used for so many cakes. 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 vanilla glaze really helps make this from scratch vanilla cake recipe out-of-this-world amazing. The secrets are browned butter and glorious specks of vanilla beans. If you’ve never browned butter, don’t panic — it’s so easy! The 5 minutes it takes is the best 5 minutes you’ll spend all month.

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

slice of moist vanilla cake with vanilla glaze with bite missing on a plate

Homemade Vanilla Cake Ingredients

For this vanilla cake recipe from scratch, you’ll need the following: 

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Egg
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour cream
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vanilla extract

And for the browned butter vanilla glaze, you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla bean paste
  • Salt
  • Cream or milk 

homemade vanilla cake slice on a white plate

How to Make Vanilla Cake From Scratch

To make the moist vanilla cake, combine the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry in another. Using a spatula, gently stir the wet mixture into the dry. Turn the batter into a greased 8×8-inch baking pan and bake until the center is set and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean. 

Once the cake is done baking, let it cool most of the way before adding the vanilla glaze on top. 

To make the browned butter glaze, you’ll first need to cook the butter over medium-high heat until it’s amber in color. Transfer the browned butter to a large mixing bowl and add in the rest of the glaze ingredients. 

Using an electric mixer, whisk until the glaze is smooth and thick, but easily pourable. Pour the glaze onto the homemade vanilla cake and use a spatula to smooth it out, if needed. 

slices of Vanilla Cake From Scratch on white platter

Tips for the Best Vanilla Cake From Scratch

When making the vanilla cake batter, it is so important that you don’t over mix the batter. Stir the wet and dry ingredients until just combined, and no more. If you over work the batter, the cake will be dense rather than fluffy. 

Note that you should watch the butter very carefully as it browns. The only hard part about browning butter is that is goes from perfectly browned to burnt quickly. So once you begin cooking the butter do NOT move away from the stove. 

You’ll know when the butter is ready to come off the stove once it smells nutty and is amber in color. It’ll go through stages of hissing and spitting as it cooks, so don’t let that scare you! 

Lastly, the glaze recipe calls for vanilla bean paste. If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, you can use the seeds from a vanilla bean pod instead or extra vanilla extract. Just use whatever you have! 

Vanilla Cake From Scratch — Move over chocolate, because vanilla has arrived. This no mixer, easy vanilla cake is topped with a browned butter glaze that's impossible to resist!

More Cake Recipes From Scratch: 

  • Homemade Funfetti Cake with Funfetti Frosting — The recipe is as close to cake mix Funfetti that I’ve been able to replicate at home. I love that stuff, but it’s nice to be able to pronounce all the ingredients and make a scratch cake in literally 5 minutes.
  • Triple Chocolate Layer Cake — This is the chocolate layer cake to beat all and the best. It’s rich, decadent, and everything you want in a chocolate cake.
  • Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake — The cake is coated with cinnamon-sugar and there’s a cinnamon-sugar filling that runs through the center of the cake that turns crunchy while the cake bakes.
  • Caramelized Banana Upside Down Cake — While baking, the bananas caramelize in a butter and brown sugar bath giving the cake it’s signature glistening top. There’s so much rich browed butter and alluring caramel flavor, making the cake irresistible! 
  • Sweet Cream Vanilla Coffee Cake — The trifecta of coffee creamer, vanilla Greek yogurt, and splash of oil moisturize and tenderize the cake, and also lend a creamy, rich flavor profile.
Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze
Yield: 8x8-inch pan

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes

Move over chocolate, because vanilla has arrived. This no mixer, easy vanilla cake from scratch is topped with a browned butter glaze that's impossible to resist!

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*
  • 1 heaping cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste**
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • about 1/4 cup cream or milk, or as necessary for consistency

Instructions

Make the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. 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.

Make the Glaze

  1. Brown the butter. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Assemble the Cake

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Notes

*For more info on how to brown butter, check out this tutorial.

**Seeds from 1 large vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract extract may be substituted.

Cake base adapted from my Blueberry Muffins and Buttermilk Pancakes Cake; Glaze adapted from my Fudgy Banana Bars

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 246Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 149mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 0gSugar: 23gProtein: 4g

Even More Easy Cake Recipes: 

The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake — A cheery, happy cake that’s sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! This 100% from-scratch cake is an EASY reader favorite you’re going to love!!

The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake 

Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting — This is the easiest, from-scratch yellow cake and it tastes like a million bucks. This yellow cake recipe always turns out supremely moist, springy, soft and fluffy cake thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil.

Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting

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