Classic French Vanilla Cake Recipe

Classic French Vanilla Cake is the perfect complement to any occasion.  This cake is hugely popular and delicious.  Think of this cake as a canvas and you are the artist to decorate to your own delight.  It is a classic cake recipe that will soon become a tradition to be handed down to those you love!  So, skip the store-bought cake and make this outstanding cake.

Recipe, comments, and photos by Ellen Easton 2020 – All Rights Reserved.  Check out more of Ellen Easton’s Tea Travels™ articles and recipes.

Classic French Vanilla Cake

Learn about the History of English High Tea and more delicious Afternoon Tea Recipes.

Classic French Vanilla Cake Recipe:
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Classic French Vanilla Cake Recipe
Servings: 1 cake
Classic French Vanilla Cake:
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter,  room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (plus extra sugar to prepare baking pan), sifted
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
Basic Butter Cream:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or other desired flavoring
  • 1 pound box powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar)
  • Pastel food coloring
Classic French Vanilla Cake Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Position oven rack in middle of oven.  Either prepare two (2) 9-inch cake pans or 2 or 3 (6-inch) tea cake pans.

  2. This cake can be baked in any shape pan you desire.  Coat the bottom and sides of the pans with non-stick baking spray.  Dust the bottom and sides with granulated sugar until lightly coated.

  3. In the mixing bowl of your electric mixer, at medium speed, cream the butter.  Add a small amount of sugar at a time, and continue beating until creamy.  Add the cake flour, baking powder, milk, and vanilla extract; beat until smooth.

  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and cling to the bowl.  Fold the the egg white meringue into the prepared batter mixture.  Pour into the prepared pan/pans.

  5. Optional: In lieu of an iced cake, generously sprinkle shredded coconut onto the top of the batter, covering the batter completely.

  6. Bake for approximately 20 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

  7. Prepare the Basic Butter Cream Icing.

  8. When cake is cool, remove from the pan/pans.

  9. With a warmed flat knife, ice the cake with your desired colored Butter Cream Icing.  Decorate with with colored sprinkles or design of your choice.

Basic Butter Cream Icing Instructions:
  1. Learn more about Buttercream Icing - Tutorial on making and using Butter Cream Icing.

  1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer at low speed, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and food coloring of your choice until the mixture is smooth.  If stiffer icing is needed or the weather is very warm, add a little sugar.

  2. To create pastel colors, divide the icing into separate bowls for each color desired.  Using a toothpick, add one drop of color at a time and mix until desired color is reached.

  3. Yields 3 cups icing.

Recipe Notes

* Use vegetable shortening when pure white icing is desired.

TEA TRAVELS™ – Wishing You Happy TEA TRAVELS!™  Tea is the luxury everyone can afford!™ and Good $ense for $uccess are the trademarked property of Ellen Easton/ RED WAGON PRESS

Ellen Easton, author of Afternoon Tea~Tips, Terms and Traditions (RED WAGON PRESS), a lifestyle and etiquette industry leader, keynote speaker and product spokesperson, is a hospitality, design, and retail consultant whose clients have included The Waldorf=Astoria and Plaza Hotels.  Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated teas estates on the island.

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Comments and Reviews

2 Responses to “Classic French Vanilla Cake Recipe”

  1. polly hill

    A must try! A vanilla cake is such a lovely simple change to enjoy since I am such a chocoholic!

  2. Ellen Easton

    Thank you, Polly. I’m certain your cake will a success. Ellen


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