Vanilla Cake. The ultimate in classic cake flavours. And dare I say, one of the trickiest cake flavours to nail down too. This vanilla cake is light, fluffy, has a beautiful soft crumb, and is completely 100% dairy-free. And guess what, I bet you wouldn’t even be able to tell it was dairy-free because it’s out-of-this-world delicious.
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What Dairy-Free Vanilla Cake Means To Me
A pale yellow crumb, warm notes of sweet vanilla, and soft cloud-like texture, this vanilla cake will rival any box mix. Yes, it’s a few more steps, but sometimes a cake made from scratch is worth that extra effort. So let’s start creaming this classic dairy-free vanilla cake up.
First up, to create a soft and tender crumb that vanilla cakes are known for, we are going to reverse cream the butter and dry ingredients. I used this technique in my Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake and fell in hard love. It’s fluffy, full of flavour, and has a melt-in-your-mouth crumb.
Reverse Creaming A Cake
Traditionally, most vanilla cake recipes start by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. In reverse creaming, the dry ingredients with the sugar are whisked together to create air and break down any of the larger sugar crystals. The next step to reverse creaming is adding the butter bit by bit which coats the flour and helps inhibit gluten formation. Less gluten means a softer spring-like crumb.
After the butter and dry ingredients have been creamed together and have formed a sand-like texture, the wet ingredients get added in two separate stages. First, goes in the milk and oil. Next, the milk, eggs, and of course, the vanilla. This is a vanilla cake after all!
Real Vanilla Extract
A quick note about vanilla extract. There are a lot of vanilla extracts and emulsions. I will forever until the day I die, strongly urge you to go the extra mile, spend the extra dollar, and get the real pure vanilla extract. Yes, it’s a bit pricier than artificial extract. But I pinky promise it’s worth it!
But back to the cake, your vanilla cake batter should now be thicky, creamy, glossy, and so totally delicious. I personally find that the reverse creaming method creates gorgeous volume within the batter itself. Divide the batter into the cake pans, make sure you generously spray and parchment line them for no-fuss removal, and bake them for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Vanilla cake layers that are fluffy perfection!
Whipped Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
I’m not going to lie, everything within my bold flavour loving heart told me to pair these delectable vanilla cake layers with a fun and funky buttercream. It took some serious restraint on my part to whip up a delicious dairy-free vanilla buttercream and then just leave it. But you know what, dang, it was so darn good!
Buttercream Success Secret
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the key to smooth and dreamy whipped buttercream frosting is the very first step. Creaming the dairy-free butter and shortening together. Don’t skip this. Don’t skimp on it either. With the flat beater (paddle) attachment, crank that stand mixer up to high and let it beat for at least 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often to make sure all the little butter and shortening bits are getting mixed but let that baby go.
In the winter, being way up in Northern Canada, I let mine beat for 10 minutes. In the summer, I can sometimes get away with only 5 minutes. The key to knowing when the butter and shortening mixture is ready is when the colour has lightened to a very pale yellow, almost white, and the volume has doubled. This mixture, at first glance, should look like it’s already buttercream frosting. Once that stage has been achieved you can add in the remaining ingredients. And again, let that baby beat!
Final Cake Design
My cake style is fairly simple with a rustic aesthetic. My first and most important part about a cake is that it tastes superb. The second important part is that it looks nice. They do say we eat first with our eyes. Now I would never sacrifice flavour for a pretty cake but there’s no harm in gussying up a vanilla cake. To add a bit of extra detail and interest, I used my offset spatula to create horizontal lines around the cake and then three diagonal lines across the font. Super easy. Super effective. And gives that little bit of polished appeal to this banging vanilla cake.
And there you have it. Soft, fluffy, and totally dairy-free vanilla cake layers with a whipped dairy-free vanilla buttercream frosting that tastes like classic cake heaven. Make sure you snap a picture and send it to me over on Instagram. I’m @cakedbykatie or leave a review here on this recipe and tell me your vanilla cake success story! I can’t wait to hear it!
You can check out my other vanilla cake recipe here with my Strawberry Vanilla cake recipe. It uses the traditional creaming method.