One-Bowl Vanilla Cake

February  5, 2016
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Makes one 8-inch cake
Author Notes

Some guidelines for adding flavors:
Seeds: 1 teaspoon or less of aromatic seeds such as caraway, fennel or anise, or as much as 3 to 4 tablespoons poppy seeds or toasted sesame seeds.

Citrus: Grate the zest of a medium orange or large lemon directly into the bowl to catch the spray of fragrant oil as well as zest; you can add 1 teaspoon orange flower water with the orange zest, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract with the lemon zest.

Cardamom: Crushed seeds from 3 or 4 pods or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Saffron: 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed and sprinkled over the cream a few minutes before using. —Alice Medrich

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (175 grams) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and warm
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, lukewarm
  • Optional flavorings (see headnote)
  1. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. Preheat the oven to 375° F with a rack in the lower third.
  2. Whisk the flour and baking powder together thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla on high speed until it is thick and pale, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Beat in the melted butter, then add the flour mixture and fold and stir until blended. Stir in the cream and any add-ins. Scrape into the pan.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool.
  6. After at least 10 minutes (but you can wait as long as you like), slide a slim knife or spatula around the edges of the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake onto the rack and peel off the paper liner.
  7. Turn the cake right side up to cool completely on the rack before using or storing. Cake keeps at room temperature, wrapped airtight, for about 3 days, or in the freezer up to 3 months.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alex
  • Regine
  • Moema Bentley
    Moema Bentley
  • Charlotte Stone
    Charlotte Stone
  • Mark A. Denner
    Mark A. Denner
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

32 Reviews

Alex April 7, 2021
I thought this was supposed to be one-bowl--- why are we mixing something and setting it aside in another bowl?
Cozido N. June 1, 2020
Hi ! Great recipe, Can I use this for a 9 -inch pan ?
Oaklandpat June 17, 2018
Thank you Regine. I made your preferred recipe and it is cooling now. If it tastes half as good as it smells, I will be a happy camper.
Regine June 17, 2018
Oakland, sorry for the confusion but you are right in that the version you saw ok book says 350 instead of 375 in Food52. I first tried with 350 and it was good. But then i once did 325 in error and ended up liking it even better because it made top of cake flatter which i prefer. But it is a matter of preference.
Regine June 17, 2018
I mean I like the 1 cup
flour version which o have used several times. But one day I may try the Food52 version.
Regine June 17, 2018
Oakland Pat, I see what you mean. I too use that version (1 cup flour and 325f) and it never fails. I got it from I myself would stick with that version but might one day try it.

The version you must be talking about says:

1. ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (6.125 ounces) sugar
2. 1 cup (4.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3. ¼ tsp. salt
4. 1¾ tsp. baking powder
5. ⅓ cup heavy cream
6. 3 Tbsp. (1.5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and hot, or vegetable oil
7. 3 large eggs
8. 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour the sides of a 8-by-2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Add the sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder to the food-processor bowl and pulse to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Add the cream and butter or oil and pulse quickly, 8 to 10 times, until the ingredients are blended (if you're using oil, the ingredients will be moist and beginning to clump together but not yet smooth). Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse 5 to 6 times. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse 5 to 6 more times, just until the ingredients are blended and smooth — no more.
3. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Regine prefers 325F for 40 minutes. Renders too flatter. Takes 30-32 in savarin mold.
4. Slide a thin knife or a small metal spatula around the edges of the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake onto the rack and peel off the parchment liner. Turn the cake right side up on the rack to cool completely.
Oaklandpat June 16, 2018
I can see that in Alice's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts book, the One-Bowl Vanilla cake recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, with all of the amounts for remaining ingredients the same as listed here. Is there any consensus as to which amount produces the best outcome? Also, the baking temperature is stated at 350 instead of 375 listed here. The preparation method is different in that it is made completely in the food processor. Anyone have advice on which recipe is best? I plan to slice it and fill with lemon curd, whipped cream and berries.
Moema B. February 4, 2018
I made this cake for Super Bowl as I had the ingredients already in my pantry. The only thing I substituted was the heavy cream for regular milk because I didn’t have any cream. With that said, it was a very easy step by step recipe to follow. I folded in some poppy seeds and was kinda kicking myself I didn’t make a glaze. I put a splash of milk on my slice but it was fluffy so I guess that was just a preference. Anywho...enjoy baking this. I will definitely be baking it again.
Charlotte S. February 5, 2017
Just made this cake and it's great. The texture is a little like a pound cake, which I like. It's dense and moist. I added the zest of one lemon, delicious!
Mark A. April 16, 2016
I've made this cake a half dozen times and it's become one a family favorite. It's very reliable thanks to the detailed directions, although it occasionally turns out slightly dry with a tough crumb for reasons I haven't really figured out. I love the "mix in" idea - our household has a deep love of ginger and putting a teaspoon of dried ginger and a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger into the batter just right. I glaze it with a basic powdered sugar glaze with a tablespoon or so of David Lebovitz's ginger syrup - Ginger, three ways!
Fredrik B. March 6, 2016
This cake was great! Used a couple of tablespoons of matcha for flavour, but I can take no credit in the ridiculously fluffy texture.

Also, if you substitute any ingredient with this with something that contains far less fat, and then complain that the recipe doesn't contain enough fat, you're a disgrace.
lydia.sugarman March 6, 2016
My, aren't we superior. Thanks so much for your completely gratuitous mean-spirited comment. And, please, if you're thinking of dissembling and saying you wrote that in jest, never mind.
Regine March 1, 2016
Correction. Actually the cake from Alice in the website was even better. I also erroneously used 325F instead of 350F degrees to bake cake (took 45 minutes) and it worked quite well. Top of cake was flat which was not the case when I baked it at 350F.
Regine March 1, 2016
If you change ingredients, particularly using a lesser fat one, you might expect a dry cake. I did this cake using heavy cream as per the instructions, and it turned out very well. This being said though, I found a recipe on this site ( which is apparently a one bowl vanilla cake from same author (Alicia) but with somehow less flour. I made it out of curiosity and it turned out really good as well. Strange though that the ingredients are a bit different.
lydia.sugarman February 14, 2016
Wow, this was a big disappointment. I followed the recipe exactly, except I had to use half-and-half instead of heavy cream. It was dry, dry, dry, heavy, rose up high in the middle. Reminded me more of cornbread, except there was no cornmeal. I expect a moist, tender crumb with cake. Could I have over combined the dry ingredients or what? Will not be making this again.
Lorraine F. February 18, 2016
There isn't enough butter! That is why this cake is dry.
lydia.sugarman February 18, 2016
I think you're right! But, I'll still look for another recipe. This one isn't worth fiddling with. Looking at the photo in hindsight, I can see that it is the same as my attempt.
Lorraine F. February 18, 2016 has the best recipes on their site. Especially for vanilla cakes that are reliable, moist and delicious. The key is to use the best tasting butter, vanilla and flour and in the right amounts suited for the recipe.
lydia.sugarman February 18, 2016
Thanks so much for the reminder, Lorraine. I love King Arthur recipes. They *are* always dependable and delicious.
darksideofthespoon February 19, 2016
If you used half and half you did not follow the recipe exactly. That very well could be what made the cake dry. Heavy Cream is 35% to 36% fat whereas half and half is 10%.

I haven't made this cake before, but I'm willing to bet there is enough fat in the heavy cream to compensate for the low amount of butter. You should follow the recipe exactly for a better result next time.
beejay45 February 23, 2016
Some people just need to feel superior.
Twixen June 4, 2016
I didn't interpret darksideofthespoon's comment as superior, just factual. The fat difference is huge between half and half and heavy cream, and it would definitely impact the texture. I like King Arthur Flour's recipes too, but have always found Medrich's recipes to be solid. It IS fun to modify recipes also, but one needs to be mindful about how sugar/ fat/ acids etc will impact final result... some mods are easy, others can completely change results in a way one didn't want.
Swati S. December 15, 2018
You need to use the cream to get the right consistency as the fat in the cream is different from half and half. I have made this a million times following the recipe to a T and it is fabulous.
gardeningal February 14, 2016
Yum, sounds nice. I think I would add the poppy for the first time baking this cake, then Anise the second time baking this. Just to see which I would prefer. Although I do like both. Thank you for a one - bowl version cake!
Regine February 11, 2016
Lydia, I personally do not like lavender in food. I associate lavender with soap, perfums, etc. But I do hear some use lavender in cakes. Not sure though there is such a thing like lavender extract.
lydia.sugarman February 10, 2016
Hmm, I wonder what it would be like with lavender?
Twixen June 4, 2016
I think it would be fantastic. <3
Blaqueline K. February 9, 2016
I second Barbara on this not being a one-bowl cake, however, it made my apartment smell delightful. I forgot I ran out of vanilla extract so I substituted pure almond extract and orange zest. I also ran out of sugar (why did I even attempt to make this cake) and used brown sugar and maybe a quarter cup white sugar. When it finished baking, I had the opposite problem as Regine and my cake had a huge hill in the center was only maybe a half inch at the sides. Looks like a Frisbee. This might've been a result of me losing count of my quarter teaspoons of baking powder. My oven also doesn't present the most optimal conditions for baking, so I'm impressed by the way this cake came out nonetheless. Texture was awesome, light, spongy, and had almond notes. Couldn't really taste the orange as much as I could smell it. I didn't notice a butter flavor and might consider ghee next time. Also next time, I'd maybe add more zest and maybe orange juice. I can see how this recipe is versitile. I'm looking forward to the next round.
Barbara H. February 9, 2016
Not a one-bowl cake. Just sayin'
Regine February 9, 2016
I made this cake yesterday, adding an additional teaspoon or so of good q uality vanilla paste and a few drops of orange extract oil. The cake was extremely delicious, and I loved the light, spongy texture. It also tasted very buttery although it only has 3 tbsp butter, but I don't know if using 3 tbsp melted melted Ghee (aka clarified) butter instead of regular butter further enhanced the taste of the cake. I used an 8 inch springform pan. Only thing though is that the cake sank very slightly in the middle. Not really a big deal but I wish surface of cake remained more uniform. I googled information about that and I am wondering if baking it at a lower temperature (maybe 350 as with most cake recipes) would minimize the sinking in the middle. I think this occurs when the sides of the cake bake faster than the middle of the cake. I think I will try again at 350 degrees and see if there is a difference. I will let you know. Regardless though, I love this cake, the flavor and texture. Thanks!