Vanilla Cake with Buttercream Frosting

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 20 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Vanilla Cake:

Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the pans

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup for dusting the pans 

1 tablespoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 

4 large eggs, at room temperature 

1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

1 1/4 cups whole milk (or 3/4 cup heavy cream mixed with 1/2 cup water) 


4 cups confectioners' sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream, plus additional if needed 


  1. For the vanilla cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat three 6-inch-round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper; spray the parchment and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. Whisk the baking powder, salt and 3 cups flour together in a bowl until combined. Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. (The mixture may look separated at this point.) Beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk and ending with the flour, until just smooth.
  3. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middles comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pans and turn the cakes out onto the racks to cool completely. Remove the parchment.
  4. For the buttercream: Mix together the confectioners' sugar and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low speed until well blended, then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
  5. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.
  6. Trim the tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife to make them level, if desired. Spread frosting on each layer, stack layers and cover with frosting.

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