Vanilla Bean Cake

One-Bowl Vanilla Bean Sheet Cake Recipe: Easy and Delicious!

a pan filled with cake with icing

How this Vanilla Bean Cake became famous:

I started making this humble cake this summer for the Whitefish Farmer’s Market so folks could sample my vanilla products. Boy, was it a hit. Just last night, I had a bit of cake leftover and a woman came up and asked me how much it would be to buy the rest of the cake. I sold it to her for $5. Probably should have charged more.

slice of cake being cut with a flor on a blue china plate

I have served dozens of these cakes all over Montana at farmers markets and shows. Thousands of people have downloaded this recipe.

Everyone always asks me for the recipe and I reply- “it’s just eggs, flour, vanilla, sugar, and butter.” But, it really is a lovely little cake that deserves a post of its own.

Frost it with either my Classic Vanilla Buttercream frosting or my Chocolate Frosting recipe.

Enjoy.

a plate with a slice of cake and a fork

Why this recipe works:

  • Mixing the ingredients in one bowl makes it super simple.
  • You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry and fridge.
  • Room-temperature eggs, butter, and dairy products make this cake extra fluffy and light.
  • This cake bakes up in a standard 9″ x 13″ pan- no fussy cake pans or tins.
  • The Vanilla Bean buttercream frosting is so good and So easy- just 4 ingredients.

Equipment you will need for this recipe:

  • 9″ x 13″ cake pan
  • Stand mixer or electric mixer
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • Offset spatula
  • Rubber or silicone spatula
buttercream frosting on a electric mixer and in a silver mixing bowl

Secrets for a fantastic Vanilla Bean Cake:

  • Correctly measure your flour with this method: Fluff the flour with a fork or whisk, spoon into a dry measuring cup, level off the flour with a knife. For even more precise baking use a food scale. Buy my favorite HERE.
  • Use fresh flour, baking soda and baking powder. Flour can go rancid, so give it a sniff test.
  • Buy the best quality vanilla bean paste you can find like my Pine and Palm Vanilla Paste.
  • Cream the butter and sugar toggery until they are light and fluffy. you do not want any sugar crystals visible. Make certain your butter is room temperature- leave out for 3-4 hours in the summer. Overnight in the fall and winter.
  • My favorite butter is unsalted Land O’ Lakes or Challenge.
cake batter being spread into a glass cake pan

Other Vanilla Bean Paste recipes to try:

228 grams of flour in a glass bowl on a kitchen scale

Common Questions

What is Vanilla Paste?

Vanilla Paste is a flavor enhancer used the same way you would use vanilla extract. It is made of whole vanilla beans, water, alcohol ( typically vodka or rum), sugar and a thinking agent like Xanthan gum or light corn syrup. Look for the best quality paste you can find. Artificial colors or additives are not desirable. I typically use about half as much paste as vanilla extract in most recipes.

Can I use vanilla extract if I do not have vanilla bean paste?

Yes- substitute the extract 1-1 in this recipe. Meaning- use the 2 full teaspoons.

Where do I buy vanilla paste?

You can order here on my website or any fancy food shop or grocer on the baking and spice aisle.

What kind of flour is in this recipe?

I use All-purpose flour but cake flour works beautifully for lighter sponge.

What do you mean by “butter and flour ” the baking pan?

Here’s how to butter & flour your baking pans: Using a pastry brush or even very clean fingers or a piece of wrapper from a stick of butter. Take 1-2 Tablespoons of soft butter and rub all around the pan.
Cover the entire surface inside of your baking dish with the soft butter. Do not use cold butter- it will not spread well. Nor should you use melted butter- it will run down. Then add about 1 tablespoon of flour the pan. Shake the pan over the sink or trash can to evenly distribute the flour and coat the butter lightly. give the pan a good “whack” to remove any excess flour. There should be a light, but visible layer of flour sticking to the pan.

Can I just use baking spray like Pam?

I do not like the taste of cooking spray. It can pool in the corners of your baking dish causing it to burn the cake batter. I do not use Bakers Joy often, so I cannot comment on if the cake will release well from the pan.

freshly baked cake in a rectangular glass dish
cake covered with white buttercream frosting on a cooling rack
slice of cake on a blue china plate with a silver fork

How to Make a One-Bowl Vanilla Bean Sheet Cake

Recipe by Meggen Wilson
Course: Montana Kitchen, Sweet Tooth, Valentine’s Day
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes
Calories

300

kcal

A simple one-bowl cake packed with loads of flavor. Don’t let the “Vanilla” fool you- this cake has show-stopper flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

  • 1 cup 2% milk at room temperature

  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, room temperature

  • 3 large eggs room temperature

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 354 grams

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9″ x 13″ cake pan.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar, and beat on medium for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add in the vanilla bean paste, milk, and yogurt or sour cream. Mix for 30 seconds on medium speed until well incorporated. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well blended into the butter mixer.
  • With a fine sieve placed over the stand mixer bowl, sift together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour.
  • Beat the flour into the butter mixture on low for 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides and beat until just combined. Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat the mixture for about 15 seconds. It should be light and fluffy. Do not over-mix.
  • Spoon the mixer into the prepared baking dish. Using an offset spatula, smooth the batter into the cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Set on a wire rack to cool completely. Once completely cooled, top with my vanilla buttercream frosting.
  • Use a sharp knife and loosen the cake from the edges of the pan. Slice into squares and serve.

Notes

  • WHY ROOM TEMP INGREDIENTS? Using room temperature ingredients prevents the batter from seizing. It becomes light and fluffy. Not heavy and dense.
    TIP: Take your butter out the night before baking and the eggs, milk, and yogurt at least 1 hour before baking.
    FOR CUPCAKES: Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 17-19 minutes. Yields 12 cupcakes.
    FOR A 2 LAYER CAKE: Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans. Divide the batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
    Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: Instead of vanilla, try my chocolate buttercream frosting

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