Vanilla Cake (+ Confetti Cake Variation)

March 11, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Ken Carlson
  • Makes one 8- or 9-inch double-layer cake (or one 10-inch Bundt cake, one 9 by 13 sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes)
What You'll Need
  • For the Cake Magic! Cake Mix:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • For turning it into Vanilla Cake:
  • Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pans
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting the pans
  • 4 cups dry Cake Magic! Cake Mix, whisked well before measuring
  • 3/4 cup full-fat plain yogurt (preferably not Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (for Confetti Cake variation)
  1. For the Cake Magic! Cake Mix:
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together well to combine. Whisk the mix again before measuring. It’s important to use table salt in the cake mix; other types will eventually settle out of the mix.
  1. For turning it into Vanilla Cake:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom and side of the pan(s). Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess. (If making cupcakes, use liners instead of greasing and coating the tins.)
  3. Place the cake mix in a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt, butter, water, vanilla, and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix). For Confetti Cake, stir 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles into the batter just before pouring it into the pans. Divide the batter between the prepared pans.
  4. Bake until the layers are domed and golden brown, and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted in the center of the cake, 35 to 40 minutes (40 to 50 minutes for a Bundt, 25 to 30 minutes for a 13 by 9-inch cake, and 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes).
  5. At this point, coat the layers with syrup ( After removing the hot cake layers from the oven, pierce them, still in their pans, at one-inch intervals with a skewer or paring knife. This creates channels for the syrup to seep into the cakes. Then, pour or generously brush the syrup over the surface of the hot layers, dividing it between them as evenly as you can. Transfer the soaked layers (still in their pans) to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. When they are cooled and no longer wet to the touch, one to two hours, carefully turn them out of their pans and assemble and frost.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Bethany Ringdal
    Bethany Ringdal
  • petaltown
  • Chiara Pepe
    Chiara Pepe
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • Regine
Before her diagnosis, Caroline wrote a book on cakes called Cake Magic!. She started developing a birthday cake using her gluten-free mix found in that book. Check out other recipes she’s developing for her new life—and the stories behind them—on her blog, The Wright Recipes. Her next book, Soup Club, is a collection of recipes she made for her underground soup club of vegan and grain-free soups she delivers every week to friends throughout Seattle's rainy winter.

19 Reviews

Bethany R. March 13, 2023
The cake didn't go well for me - it turned out flat, greasy, and chewy. Don't get me wrong, we're still going to eat it, but this isn't the lovely birthday layer cake I was going for. If I had a guess as to what went wrong, it's that my eggs weren't fully room temperature. When I mixed the melted butter with the other wet ingredients, some of the butter hardened into little flecks - no good. Using melted butter instead of creaming sounds like a time saver, but this has happened to me before - if the temps aren't just right, you've got a mess on your hands.
Pdurf March 5, 2023
Can I make this cake and freeze for a week? Sorry it's been a very long time since I've baked for ppl and now I'm getting forced back into it
Bethany R. March 13, 2023
Most cakes freeze well if they're well wrapped - I do 2 layers of plastic wrap and tinfoil on the outside just to be safe. You can freeze for a week or even several with no downsides - the only way to go with a fancy layer cake, in my opinion, so you have time to assemble all the bits. Bonus: it's nice and firm when you go to frost it!
petaltown January 30, 2022
This recipe comes through again. Very reliable, easy to put together, bakes up moist like a dream. The family birthday cake. Layers or cupcakes. The only thing I change is the temperature. I use 325 degrees F so the layers don't dome.
Chiara P. July 13, 2018
As I cannot use baking powder for my allergy, could you help me find another ingredient to make this cake levitate? I really want to cook it! Thank you!!
petaltown July 13, 2018
A levitating cake would surely be a great centerpiece for any party. Seriously though, commonly available baking powder in the US contains baking soda, cream of tartar and cornstarch. Do you know which ingredient you're sensitive to? If it's the cornstarch, you could make your own baking powder using 1 part tapioca or arrowroot along with the 1 part soda and 2 parts cream of tartar.
Chiara P. July 17, 2018
Than you so much for your kind answer!! I have a nichel allergy, and I can use just baking soda and cream tartare. But as I just discovered my allergy, now I have to change the way I used to bake cakes, and I don't know the proper way to use these ingredients :(
Thank you very much for your help!! :D
petaltown March 6, 2018
Several family members prefer vanilla cake/yellow cake so I've been searching for the perfect recipe and have tried several butter cakes that had a tough texture. This one came out so tender! I love it. Beautifully golden color, tastes exactly like you want a yellow cake. I had sour cream onhand so used it in lieu of yogurt.
sexyLAMBCHOPx March 7, 2017
How are "community picks" chosen?
Regine March 7, 2017
Thanks Sarah. I look forward to trying this recipe.
Regine October 4, 2016
Interesting. Since about a month ago others are commenting that the list of ingredients is incomplete, yet no corrections have been made. I agree with JPH. If a recipe is going to be called a community pick, ingredients/instructions should be accurate, or, at the very least, a response should be given and the recipe should be edited.
Sarah J. December 1, 2016
Hi Regine,
So sorry about this oversight! It was a mistake on our part. The recipe is updated now and apologies for any inconvenience.
jph March 7, 2017
Thank you, Sarah for the corrections. It is unfortunate that the recipe author, Caroline Wright, who wanted to promote her book, decided to ignore the requests for corrections...has Stacy corrected her "lavender macarons with earl grey and honey lavender buttercream" yet. If so I never received notification of any response.
jph August 23, 2016
what is happening to food52? if you are going to give a recipe the stamp of approval as a "community pick" would you not actually test it? and if you did would you not find this error of omission? there have been too many recipes recently that have gross errors...without correction, even after a request for it (thank you for this one, but i notice that none of the editors posted it.

case in point regarding zero response from a poster, stacy's lavender macarons with earl grey and honey lavender buttercream inquiry...never a peep of a response. and there have been a few too many others
Liz W. August 17, 2016
You need 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled and 3/4 cup water.
Jo August 6, 2016
There's no butter or water listed in the ingredients but they are in the method. Please clarify amounts.
Patricia A. August 5, 2016
I was going to try this recipe before buying the cookbook, but also notice that some ingredients were mentioned in the instructions that were not listed in ingredients list -- instructions say to add butter and water, but neither are listed with amounts in the ingredients list. I may give this a try using the amounts of those ingredients from the chocolate cake recipe as a guide.
Jennifer B. August 5, 2016
You mention stirring in butter in step 2, but no butter amount is listed, other than for buttering the pans. Can you clarify that please?
ehuewe August 2, 2016
Why 'prerably not Greek yogurt'? I always have Greek yogurt in fridge - can I just add some milk too thin it ... assuming the thickness is the problem.