Three layers of super soft and fluffy 8 inch vanilla cakes, frosted with a whipped vanilla buttercream. This cake and frosting can be adapted into any other flavor!
Unfortunately not everyone has 6-inch pans or sometimes it’s just too small so I always get asked if it can be baked into different size pans, especially 8-inch. It certainly can be but you’ll only get two layers and it will be a fairly short cake compared to the one pictured.
So, for all you lovebugs who love my vanilla cake recipe, I TURNED IT INTO A THREE LAYER 8 INCH CAKE!
I did not have to yell that at you but honestly I’m so excited about it because it really is my favorite cake and *almost* forgot how good plain vanilla cake was. I also tweaked my whipped vanilla bean American buttercream recipe to fully frost the 8 inch size.
Why I love this 8-inch vanilla cake recipe
Flavor & Texture: To me, the perfect cake has a lovely balanced flavor of butter, sugar, vanilla, milk, eggs and flour. It also has a fluffy, moist and tender texture without being too flimsy, crumbly, dry or dense.
Simplicity: No one wants to make the BEST cake recipe if the ingredient list is too long or inaccessible. I think most people have these ingredients on hand and it’s fairly simple to make…in my opinion, lol.
How to make an 8-inch cake
I really like to keep my recipes as simple as I can without leaving out anything that might help you. The full instructions are in the recipe card but we’ll run through some best practices for cakes in general and the ingredient list.
The main steps are creaming the butter and sugar together, adding in the oil and eggs, beating between each addition and then alternating adding in the dry ingredients with the milk and sour cream.
- All-purpose Flour: Cake flour is known to produce better results in cakes… better is an opinion, lol. Personally, I don’t care for the taste of cake flour. The texture may be more tender, but it’s not worth someone going out to buy cake flour just to make a cake. This recipe was developed specifically to use all-purpose flour since that’s what most people have at home.
- I also HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as you will almost always overmeasure the flour.
- Fat: I use butter and oil in almost all my cake recipes because I like the flavor from the butter and I like the texture produced by the combination of both fats. I find that oil alone is sometimes too spongy and not quite as pleasant in a plain vanilla cake. Whereas using all butter usually results in a cake that’s a bit more stiff.
- Whole Eggs: you simply can’t argue against the flavor and richness that egg yolks bring to the table. I use egg whites when I specifically want my cakes to be white and not yellow but this cake was developed for optimal flavor and texture so whole eggs all the way!
- Sugar: I mean do we need to talk about this one? YES WE DO, because some people think it’s ok to remove ¼-½ of the sugar from a recipe because “they don’t want it so sweet”…I get it. But the truth is homemade cakes are nowhere near as sweet as store bought ones (at least mine aren’t).
- If you want to remove sugar, use a European based buttercream, like Swiss or French, instead of the American
- If you do use my Swiss or French (or any other one from my cookbook, Frosted, you’ll want to multiply the recipe by at least 1.5x-2x depending on how much you want to decorate.
- Sugar is not only there for sweetness. It caramelizes to produce flavor and color. It also creates tenderness and locks in moisture.
- Liquid: I was a firm believer in buttermilk before I did all this testing. Now I am a firm believer in sour cream. The difference in texture and flavor was mind blowing from the very first test.
- If you really don’t have access to sour cream you can replace it with equal amounts of greek yogurt.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do my ingredients need to be at room temperature?
The temperature of the ingredients ensures that the right amount of air is incorporated into your cake and that the batter emulsifies properly. If your batter ever looks split/curdled when you add the eggs, it’s most likely either the temperature of your ingredients or the fat to liquid ratio is off.
I usually pull the butter and eggs out first. Put the eggs in some hot water and slice the butter so it warms up quicker. Get the rest of my ingredients together and measure. Microwave the milk for 10-20 seconds so it’s not cold and use cold sour cream because warm sour cream sounds gross, lol.
How to prevent the cakes from sticking to the pan?
Honestly I rarely encounter this problem. I typically just use a baking spray made with flour to grease my cake pans. I feel like that’s not as common as greasing with plain butter or flour but it works for me and it’s so much easier. If you’re really nervous you can use parchment paper to line the bottom of the pans as well.
When are my cakes done baking?
This is important because a good cake can become a dry cake in a matter of minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center that comes out clean is also a common test to check for doneness but this can also easily lead to an overbaked cake. .
If your cake pans are greased properly, the cake should release itself from the edge of the pan once it’s fully baked. Another way to know is that as soon as the top of the cake no longer looks wet, gently press on the center of it and if it springs back, it’s done. If your fingerprint stays pressed down then bake it for another 1-2 minutes and try again.
Can I make this 8-inch cake in a different size pan?
Mehhh…if I’m being honest, you don’t need to. If you want a 6-inch cake, then make that version but if you want a 9-inch cake, you can make this one (bake a couple minutes less if using three pans or a few minutes more if using two pans) but I’d prefer to just double the recipe for the 6-inch one to make three 9-inch layers. If you want a quarter sheet cake (9×13), I recommend the original 6-inch version for that as well.
Can I turn this cake into cupcakes?
This cake recipe is not my favorite for cupcakes. It was developed to dome less and created a flatter top so the cupcakes would be kind of sad looking. You would also probably get an awkward amount of cupcakes like 30-35 cupcakes.
How much frosting do I need for a three layer 8-inch cake
I prefer not to decorate my cakes heavily so I find that a frosting that uses 1 ½ cups of butter is sufficient. If you’re looking to decorate as well, I would recommend a frosting that uses at least 2 cups of butter.
For example, the recipe included with vanilla American buttercream uses 1 ½ cups of butter but the recipe for Swiss meringue buttercream uses 1 cup of butter. To adjust them to fit this cake, multiply them by 1.5x the recipe. So for a Swiss meringue buttercream, instead of 4 egg whites and 1 cup of sugar, use 6 egg whites with 1 ½ cups of sugar and 1 ½ cups of butter.
If you haven’t already, make sure to check out my cookbook Frosted. It’s about all the different types of frosting and it has 60 recipes to use the frostings for!
How to store cake
Storing unfrosted cake layers (make ahead)
You can make the cake layers ahead of time. For best results, allow the cake layers to cool almost to room temperature. When they’re still just slightly warm, wrap them in plastic wrap and leave them on the counter overnight.
If you’re making them more than one day in advance, you’ll want to freeze them. Place the plastic wrapped layers in a freezer bag, removing the excess air, and freeze on a flat surface.
You can remove the cakes from the freezer and frost right away or you can remove them a few hours earlier and bring them back to room temperature. If you’re frosting them frozen, make sure to let the cake rest so it thaws before serving.
How to store the finished cake
If the cake is fully frosted and unsliced, you can leave it on the counter overnight (unless it feels soft and unstable, then refrigerate it).
If the cake is partially sliced, cover any cut sections with plastic wrap or a cake dome. Place all the cut slices in an airtight container. It can stay at room temperature for a day or refrigerated for up to a week.
How to freeze the cake
If the cake is sliced, place the slices in an airtight container. You can also individually wrap each slice in plastic wrap if you want to remove one at a time. Place the container in a freezer bag and squeeze out all the excess air. You can store them in the freezer for up to 2 months.
You can also freeze the cake whole. To do this, refrigerate the cake until the frosting is firm, a couple of hours. Then wrap the whole cake in plastic wrap, twice and freeze for up to two months.
Let the cake thaw in the fridge over night. Then remove the plastic wrap and let it thaw on the counter until serving. Keep in mind, the cake is never as good as fresh.
Thanks so much for reading, I really hope you guys enjoy. this cake as much as we did. If you make this 8-inch cake make sure to tag me @baranbakery on instagram! As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
8-inch Vanilla Cake
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (118mL) vegetable or canola oil
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (227g) sour cream
- 1 cup (237mL) milk, room temperature
Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
- 1 1/2 cups (340g) unsalted butter, SLIGHTLY colder than room temperature*
- 5 cups (600g) powdered sugar, spooned and leveled
- 1/4 cup (59mL) heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
8-Inch Vanilla Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease and line three 8 inch cake pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until they're evenly distributed.
- Place the room temperature butter and the granulated sugar in a large bowl and use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment to beat them for 2 minutes, scraping the edge of the bowl halfway through.
- Add in the oil and beat for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed until each egg is fully incorporated.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat just until combined.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter, turn the mixer up to low speed and then pour in the milk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Distribute the batter evenly among the three cake pans, about 18oz in each pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- When the cake is fully baked it will release itself from the edge of the pan and it will spring back if you press on the center of it.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a whisk attachment and beat at full speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping the edge of the bowl every so often.
- Add in half of the powdered sugar, beat at the lowest speed, just until it's combined, then add the other half of the powdered sugar beating at the lowest speed again, just until it's combined.
- Scrape the edge of the bowl and turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for 2-3 minutes.
- Scrape the edge of the bowl again, add in the heavy whipping cream, vanilla and salt and beat at medium-high speed for another 2-3 minutes.
- Place the first layer of the cooled cake onto a flat surface and frost with 1/4 of the buttercream. Repeat with the next layer and then place the third layer on top.
- Use another 1/4 of the buttercream to apply a thin crumb coat to the outside of the cake and then refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
- Use the rest of the buttercream to frost the cake fully and then refrigerate it for another 15-20 minutes, just to set.
- Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.
*I wrote slightly colder than room temperature because if my butter is at true room temperature in my house, it's almost always too warm. What I like to do is either pull the butter out 1-2 hours before using it and cut it into small chunks OR leave it out at room temperature the night before and refrigerate it for about 15 minutes before I use if for the frosting. You want the butter to be soft enough that it squishes when you press on it but not so warm that it looks greasy at all.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 649Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 289mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 1gSugar: 60gProtein: 5g
Nutrition information may not be fully accurate.