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There is no better reason to bake a cake than to celebrate a birthday, especially if it’s the birthday of someone special. This Best Ever Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake is my go-to birthday cake recipe for special friends and family members!
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to cherish birthdays in a different way. I look forward to others’ birthdays so much more than my own, not because I’m afraid of becoming another year older, but because it reminds me of how I’ve been so blessed to have such amazing people in my life as friends and family.
It was actually my birthday yesterday, and in honour of my birthday I’m re-sharing this old Vanilla Cake recipe I first posted on the blog in 2015 – I’ve updated the recipe over the years to make it even better, and I know you’re going to LOVE it!
Birthdays are a great reason to celebrate the people we love and shower them with a little extra kindness and attention…and birthday cake (because is it really a birthday without cake??!?)! The very first time I made this Best Ever Vanilla Bean White Cake recipe was for a very dear friend of mine. If you know her, you would agree that this birthday cake suits her perfectly: it’s sweet and beautiful with a classic, simple elegance.
Want more vanilla bean recipes? Make Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake Trifles with Fresh Berries, or try this recipe for Vanilla Bean Custard Fruit Tarts with Honey Glazed Fruit.
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And it’s not only perfect for birthdays – this Best Ever Vanilla Bean White Cake is great for bridal showers, baby showers, or any party that needs a simple, elegant touch. And you can easily make this recipe with or without the frosting roses…if a more traditional or rustic cake is your style, simply spread the frosting on as normal!
Before I first made this Best Ever Vanilla Bean White Cake I had admired rosette cakes for years and years on Pinterest and in bakeries. I was inspired by my food blogger friend Olivia from Liv for Cake and her rosette cakes and I decided to try my hand at it – turns out it’s easier than it looks!! If you’re not into rosettes you can feel free to simply spread the frosting on if you’d prefer that look (check out this post for an idea on how to do that effectively).
Want more cake recipes? Make a Lemon Raspberry Glazed Bundt Cake, or try this recipe for No Fail Homemade Angel Food Cake.
I hope you love this Best Ever Vanilla Bean White Cake as much as we do! Let me know in the comments below, what’s your favourite cake to make for special occasions? I’d love to know!
KITCHEN PRODUCTS I RECOMMEND:
Be sure to use real vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste in this recipe!! I recommend the Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste (affiliate link). It’s the best one I’ve found at the best price point, and it’s usually cheaper on Amazon than it is at baking supply stores!
Looking for more delicious desserts? You’ll LOVE these!
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Mascarpone Buttercream
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Black Forest Icebox Cake
Chocolate Mocha Tiramisu Icebox Cake
Strawberry Cheesecake Fruit Dip
Easy No Bake Oreo Cheesecake
*This cake recipe was adapted from one of Bon Appetit’s recipes. The frosting recipe is my own.
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Best Ever Vanilla Bean White Cake
This Best Ever Vanilla Bean White Cake is one of the best birthday cake recipes I've ever made. Tender vanilla cake with fluffy frosting, made with real vanilla beans!
For the cake:
- 1-2 tablespoons each, butter and flour for preparing the cake tins
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 3 egg yolks at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or use the seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter softened
- 6 ounces cream cheese plain, full fat, at room temperature
- 6 to 7 cups powdered sugar sifted to remove lumps
- a pinch of salt
- up to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or the seeds from one whole vanilla bean
For the cake:
- Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans (with high sides) or three 8-inch round cake pans (with high sides), lining the bottoms with parchment paper rounds for easy release.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer) whip the butter on medium high speed until very smooth. Add the sugar and mix on high speed until fluffy and creamy. The sugar will start to dissolve into the butter a little bit during this creaming process, so you should be able to feel the grains of sugar getting smaller.
- Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl regularly at this stage to make sure everything is mixed well.
- Mix in the oil and vanilla bean paste on low speed.
- Measure the buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup and and set aside.
- Measure and sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl and combine with a wire whisk.
- Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternatively while the mixer is running on low speed. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, half the milk, another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the other half of the milk, and the remaining dry ingredients.
- Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low and mix until the batter is smooth (about one minute).
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 29-34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes in the pans for about 5-7 minutes and then turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
- Once the cakes are cool, store them wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge until ready to frost. They should be refrigerated for at least 1 hour before frosting.
For the frosting:
- Beat the butter and cream cheese together on high speed until light and fluffy and smooth.
- Sift the powdered sugar and slowly add, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the sea salt and mix until incorporated.
- Add the vanilla bean paste and then the heavy cream, slowly one tablespoon at a time, until incorporated and the mixture reaches spreadable consistency.
- Mix the frosting on medium-high speed for about 1-2 minutes, or until the frosting becomes very smooth and spreadable.
- Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of frosting for the crumb coat (the initial coat of frosting) and place the rest of the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Set aside.
- Trim the cakes (if necessary) to level them, using a serrated knife. Place one cake, right side up, on a plate or cake board.
- Add a large dollop of frosting on top and spread it out to reach the edges of the cake. Place the other cake on top of the frosting, upside down so the flat side faces up.
- Add the remainder of the frosting (the 1 1/2 cup you reserved for the crumb coat) to the top of this cake and spread it over the top and down the sides of the cake, making sure to smooth it out to fill in any holes or cracks in the cake to create a very smooth edge.
- Remove any excess frosting - it's fine if the cake is showing through, you'll cover this with the final coat of frosting.
- Place the cake in the fridge to chill for about 45 minutes. Refrigerating the cake will cause the butter and cream cheese in the frosting to harden and it will create the perfect canvas for the second coat of frosting.
- Remove the cake from the fridge and get ready to frost! If you're not into rosettes you can feel free to simply spread the remaining frosting on if you'd prefer that look.
- For the rosettes, pipe a round, spiral shape beginning from the middle and moving to the outside. Follow my friend Liv For Cake's tutorial HERE.
- Start piping the rosettes on the side of the cake and begin at the very bottom. Pipe a row of rosettes along the bottom and then offset your second row so it fills in the empty spaces.
- On the top of the cake, pipe the rosettes around the outside first and then work your way in, offsetting the rows to fill in the gaps. Make sure you pipe the rosettes close together so they're almost overlapping each other. This will ensure you don't have many empty spaces to fill. It's also a good idea to end your rosettes in the gap where the next row will fill. This will hide the scraggly ends of the rosettes and create a really clean look.
- Once you've finished frosting your rosettes, chill the cake for another 1-2 hours before serving to set the frosting. After you pull it out of the fridge it will be quite hard, so it's a good idea to let it sit at room temperature again for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
It is possible to make only two 8-inch round cake layers with this recipe, however they will be quite tall and trimming might be required. Use cake pans with high sides (I use springform pans) for this recipe, especially if you're making 2 8-inch layers only. Please keep in mind that I am definitely not a professional baker or cake decorator and many of my rosettes aren't perfect (so yours don't need to be either!)! What helped me immensely when preparing for this cake was to practice frosting rosettes on a piece of parchment paper on the counter. This helped me to know how to space them properly and how to offset the rows to prevent big gaps. And the best part is, you don't have to waste the frosting you use to practice...just scrape it off the parchment with a spatula and dump it back in the bowl! You can even correct your mistakes this way as you're frosting the cake. Since the crumb coat layer is hard and cold from the fridge, if one of your rosettes looks funny, just scrape it off and try again. And remember...it doesn't have to be perfect. The style of this cake is beautiful, but it's also rustic and homemade-looking, and that's kind of the point. Store the cake in the fridge until ready to serve (let sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing to let the frosting relax).
Best Ever Vanilla Bean White Cake
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 930 Calories from Fat 423
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 29g181%
Vitamin A 1449IU29%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.
You are so sweet, thanks for the shout out! Your cake looks stunning. I think I love rosette cakes the most. And you're right, it IS easier than it looks! Love these pics, especially that last one with the cut piece!
Thanks Olivia! I appreciate your kind words 🙂 And your cakes are REALLY amazing!
This cake looks so tasty and beautiful! 🙂
Thanks so much!
This looks delicious…and beautiful! 🙂 I love the step by step pictures!
Thanks Sarah! I was hoping the step-by-step pictures would help with a more complicated recipe 🙂
Yum! This looks like the perfect go-to vanilla cake recipe. Now, if I could make mine look as pretty as yours does! LOL
Thanks so much! I'm sure you could! Practice makes perfect 🙂
SO jealous of your amazing cake frosting skills! This cake looks so simple and amazing, I love it (and I'm sure your friend did too)! I'm still learning all there is to know about cake, so I'm definitely going to test your technique and recipe out! Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂
Thanks Ariel! I think she did love it 🙂
This is such a beautiful cake – I'm way more into vanilla than chocolate! Plus, I love your frosting technique. It seems like it could hide a multitude of cake mishaps – When I tend to have!
Thanks Erin! It is a good technique for hiding mistakes 🙂 Happens to me all the time too!!
This cake is so pretty with these roses:)
Your photos are STUNNING!! I wish it was my birthday so I could have this cake but I may have to make it just because tomorrow is Friday! xx
This cake looks sooo delicious but it's almost too pretty to eat! Gorgeous!!
Thank you Lisa!!
Wow, this is such a gorgeous cake, yumming this one and scheduling the pin now!
This cake showcases great talent behind a beautifully executed cake; thanks for showing the rest of us that it can be done!
Thanks so much Dan!
This cake truly looks too good to eat! You did an amazing job!! I've never tried my hand at cake decorating, but I have at cookies, and it's not easy. You sure make this look easy!
Thanks Renee! I think a cake like this is easier than cookies! Buttercream rosettes are fairly forgiving 🙂
Chrissie, this is such a beautiful cake ! I love the simplicity of the design which actually makes it look so elegant. Art !
Thanks Florentina!! I love simple designs too 🙂
Chrissie this is so lovely! We made one like this last spring in lemon. They are so fun to put out on a cake plate and just admire! Love this beauty!
Thank you so much!
I can't get over how beautiful this cake is – if I had half the cake decorating skills that you have I would be soo happy!
Thanks Sarah! So nice of you to say 🙂
It's a beautiful cake. Thanks for sharing.
Wow, Chrissie, such a beautiful cake! This looks like something from a high-end bakery!
Thanks Julia! What a nice compliment 🙂 I really appreciate that!
This is simply gorgeous. I don't know how long it took you to learn how to decorate, but wow, love this! My favorite cake is vanilla, and this is a must try recipe for my next birthday celebration!
Thanks Sam! It really is much easier than it looks. And the practicing techniques I mentioned in the post are very helpful!
beautiful decor! wish I was so good at it!
Oh my gosh your cake looks so beautiful and so delicious. I am for sure going to try to make this cake I am sure it won't look nearly as gorgeous as your though.
Thanks so much! And I'm sure your cake will look beautiful too!
Chrissie, the frosting just looks real… I can make it for my daughter and change the color to pink!
The rosettes are fantastic – and the entire cake looks gorgeous. I love vanilla bean ANYTHING
Thanks Marye! Me too 🙂
Very Beautiful Chrissie! This would be amazing for any celebrations.
Thank you Tina!
What a beautiful cake! I wish I could reach through the screen with a fork right now.
Ha! That's a great compliment! Thanks 🙂
Omg that cake is beautiful. I will try this recipe soon. My family will definitely love it.
Thanks so much!
Thank you for breaking down the steps to make this gorgeous cake look so easy and achievable!!! I was wondering what do you do with the remaining frosting while the crumb layer is chilling in the fridge for 2 hours. Is it okay to leave it out at room temperature?
Thanks Sharon! I actually do leave it out at room temperature since my kitchen is fairly cool. If yours is very warm I would suggest refrigerating it for about one hour while the cake is chilling and then letting it reach room temperature again. In order for the rosettes to look smooth, the frosting should be slightly softer than spreading consistency. Hope that helps!
I'm having some SERIOUS rosette envy right now. That cake looks so gorgeous! *applause*
Thank you so much Alanna!!
Although I'm not a big fan of vanilla cake but I so Wanna Stuff my Face with this one. It looks so pretty and look at those gorgeous gorgeous Rosettes.
Thanks Molly! 🙂
I love vanilla bean and this cake looks stunning and delicious!! I might have to make this for my own birthday! 🙂
Thank you!! Hope you enjoy it!
Such a beautify and elegant cake! My mouth is watering now…
Thanks so much!
Lovely looking cake! I would never be able to tell that you were not a professional. I have never used the paste, because I always make sure to have at least 10 or 20 vanilla beans on hand at all times! I will give the paste a look though!
I think I will surprise my wife with this cake on our anniversary!
Wow, what a compliment! Thanks so much! I actually really like using vanilla bean paste for recipes like this. It's a little more economical than the whole vanilla beans and it still gives the same authentic flavour. Happy Anniversary!
That is a beautiful cake and I absolutely love the rosettes!
I just want to wait until no one is looking and stick my finger into one of those sweet and inviting rosettes! Yes, I'm that person. Especially with a cake that looks so delicious!
OMG! Your cake is drop dead gorgeous! How can you make those perfect rosettes? Pinned and shared and saved, who knows maybe one day I'll be able to make it 🙂
Thanks so much! With a little practice anyone can do it! 😊
Oh, my dear Canadian friend… how did you ever manage to put the knife through that gorgeous creation? If I could make something that elegant, I would never, never cut it! 🙂 The recipe sounds wonderful. Still, can't believe you cut it! LOL
Byron, your comment made me laugh out loud!! If you must know, I actually made 2 cakes…because you can't cut into your friend's birthday cake before giving it to her the next day!! But even still, I did shed a few tears over this one 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!
what a beautiful cake! I love that top down photo of it. A very lucky friend you have indeed!
Thank you Melissa!
The rosettes on this cake are gorgeous!!
Thanks so much!
Great explanation, pics, and all around great recipe. Thanks for sharing!
OMG, those roses are gorg! I wish I could decorate a cake like that!
Thanks! With some practice you can do it too!! 😊
Beeaauutiful piping work! Bravo!
WOW!! This is such a pretty cake! Your friends are truly blessed! I totally understand what you are saying. Other people's birthdays are awesome 🙂
Thanks so much Lorena!
First of all, your cake is BEAUTIFUL! There is no way mine would come out like that. And I have never heard of vanilla paste! I am going to have to check it out!
Thanks Mandee! Vanilla bean paste is great. It's kind of a cross between using vanilla extract and scraping the vanilla bean seeds out of the vanilla pod. The paste is great in a pinch and cheaper than buying the pods, and it has the seeds in it so it still gives the same vanilla flecks, as if you used the actual vanilla bean. I use it all the time!
This cake is stunning!! I can't imagine the patience it takes to make all those little roses — so impressive!
Thanks Jessica! It did take a bit of patience, but it was worth it 🙂 Practice also helps it go a little faster!
What a beautiful and elegant cake! I love the pictures- wish I could taste!!
This is one ancy-looking birthday cake! I would definitely feel special receiving this one for sure!
There's nothing like having a great vanilla bean cake in your repertoire and yours turned out beautifully!
Such a beautiful cake! I loved that you used vanilla bean paste! Pinned!!
Thank you Kathryn!
That cake is gorgeous. Your friend is lucky to have someone like you in her life! I love the step by step pictures that you've used in the post.
I just had my birthday and this cake sure looks way more gorgeous than the cake I had! I am not much of a baker but you sure make it look so easy, I just might give this a try. Thanks for sharing 🙂
I’m sure you’ll like it! 😊
this cake looks so beautiful! nice post with step by step pics!
Thanks! Glad you like this recipe!!