vanilla. nothing plain about it

I absolutely HEART this cake.  Yes.  This cake is worthy of that much enthusiasm.  And I am fully aware that I heart a whole lot of my cake recipes… but I do!  I think you have to be enthusiastic if you’re willing to share the recipe with others… and then spend your time writing a blog entry about it.

Therefore, I’ve decided to channel my adoration of this cake to all of you readers out there… wishing and hoping that you decide to try it out.  Give it a whirl.  You’ll like it… I promise!

I’ve made this cake several times now… and it has never ever let me down.  It’s the kind of cake that can satisfy a sweet tooth without sending you over the edge.  It’s the kind of cake that can either be covered in a tangy cream cheese frosting, a sweet buttercream, or even a simple dollop of whipped cream and berries.  Diverse and delicious.  That is what you should remember when you think about this cake.

If you want to know exactly why I heart this cake so much… it’s simple.  The vanilla seeds.  Sigh.  When you slice through a vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, the smell produced is simply intoxicating.  Have you ever stood with a vanilla bean in your hand, pressed against your noise, just taking it in?  (Yes… I have and I do this often… it puts a smile on my face).  Memories of home, baked goods, and sweet treats rise up to greet your nostrils and fill you with… happiness.  This cake is all about biting into that happiness.

I had mentioned using this recipe a couple of months ago when I made a 3 tiered wedding cake.  One of the comments to the entry (claps for comments) was a request for the recipe.  I promptly promised it to Lindsay (the requester) and then completely forgot to follow through.  I’m a firm believer in the better late than never motto – so Lindsay – here you go!  A vanilla cake recipe as promised however late it is.  :0)

(chalk full of) vanilla, cake


1 c. butter, room temperature

1 1/4 c. brown sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

2 c. flour, sifted

3 tsp baking powder

couple pinches of salt

3 tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Grease (either with butter, or with non-stick spray) your pans – this original recipe was recommended for two 8-inch rounds – I used it for a 10-inch square.  But both work great (and same baking time too… excellent!).

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt together.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the sugar and butter (use your paddle attachment) – scrape the sides of the bowl from time-to-time, ensuring that everything becomes smooth and fluffy.

Time to add the vanilla seeds and vanilla extract to the batter and continue to beat.

This is the part where, yes, I actually gaze at the vanilla seeds in awe, smell the pod and then exclaim “so amazing… vanilla is just so amazing”. Yes.  I heart vanilla that much.

Back to the batter though…   Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Remember to scrape down the sides again at this point – you want the entire batter to be well blended.

Turn off the stand mixer and grab your spatula.  Pour in your dry ingredients (large bowl of flour), and gently fold them into the wet batter.  Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, when you need a little help loosening up the batter to fold the flour in.  You’ll notice that the batter will go from a dry-sand effect to being really smooth and creamy… like a really thick pancake mix.  That’s good.

At this point, turn the batter into the prepared pan(s) and spread evenly.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes (depending on the pan you use and your oven) – your cake will spring back when you touch it… and it’ll be a beautiful golden colour.

see… you can still see the flecks of vanilla seeds.  beautiful!

Allow to cool slightly while in the pan on a wire rack – then turn it out and allow to cool completely on the rack.  At that point you can decide how you want to decorate it… I’ve made it with layers of buttercream and raspberries between the two rounds, with cream cheese frosting covering the entire thing, drizzling it with a simple syrup and whipped cream… even a scoop of ice cream… all of them are the perfect final touch.


7 thoughts on “vanilla. nothing plain about it

  1. Your cake looks great! I’m very partial to all things vanilla! I store my baking sugar with vanilla beans in it and I use vanilla bean paste in almost every baked good I make, especially my sugar cookies. Tastes wonderful and gives them a nice looks with those little tiny beans baked throughout.

  2. Pingback: Vanilla Extract

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