My take on the ultimate classic cake - vanilla cake…but with vanilla beans! Soft, moist, packed with vanilla bean flavor that will make you come back for seconds.
When I set out to begin creating cake recipes I knew that I wanted to begin with the basics - vanilla and chocolate. Vanilla has been the first flavor I've worked on and so far have shared a Lemon Snack Cake and a Sprinkle Snack Cake. Next up is this Vanilla Bean Snack Cake!
I wanted the vanilla bean flavor to really shine through as much as possible with this cake so I started with a white cake base. Without the egg yolks to 'color' the batter it really helps to see those delicious little vanilla bean specks. I took some extra time on this one as well to decorate the top in my typical over the top colorful fashion. I used American Buttercream and began with a base teal layer, and then topped it with stars and swirls using different piping tips. Not completely satisfied I added sparkling sugar with edible gold and silver stars. Very simple to create without a ton of fuss.
Why You Will Love This Cake
Soft And Delicious. This cake uses a combination of ingredients that help it yield a soft and moist crumb. Each ingredient helps to achieve this so please read through the list below to make sure you achieve it.
Frost Her Up. I decorated this cake with American Buttercream frosting, and colored it with food gels from Colour Mill. I don't have my own buttercream frosting on the website (yet!), but you can Google any type of buttercream you'd like to frost with to make your own.
Easy To Make. If you are a cake enthusiast, or a cake newbie, making cakes can sometimes be...a lot. Lots of methods, lots of ingredients, lots of work. I tried to keep this one simple. Single layer, nothing too fancy - but that doesn't mean we skimp on flavor.
Room Temperature Ingredients. This is probably the most important for this recipe because your cake will not come out as intended if you are using cold ingredients. Don't melt your butter either - that will not yield the same cake within this recipe. Take your cold ingredients out at least 30 minutes to 1 hour prior. I recommend cutting the butter into large 1" cubes to help speed along the process. You can place your eggs in warm water to help cut down on time as well.
Weigh Your Ingredients. You will have a better chance of success with this recipe if you weigh your ingredients. A kitchen scale is a low cost investment - as low as $10 if you purchase a simple one on Amazon. Volume measurements are provided for your convenience as well.
Use An Oven Thermometer. I just purchased a new oven thermometer for $6 from Amazon. Our ovens can run hot or colder than what is shown, so I highly recommend an oven thermometer so you can ensure the recipe you are baking is not under or over baked.
Please read through the ingredients list so you can familiarize yourself with each ingredient, along with suggestions or recommendations during the preparation or baking process.
Cake Flour. This flour is important for this recipe because it is what helps contribute to a soft crumb. Cake flour is finer than most flours, and has a low protein content which is what helps make this cake airy and soft. You can use all purpose flour in its place but the cake will be more dense. If you do not have cake flour you can make a substitute using 105 g (¾ cup + 2 tbsp) of all purpose flour with 14 g (2 tbsp) of corn starch for each cup of flour. Just know that this alternative will still not be as 'good' as if you used just cake flour.
Kefir. My friend Sam from Buttermilk By Sam introduced me to Kefir about two years ago. It is a great substitute for buttermilk and has become my go to as a replacement. While buttermilk is a fermented milk, kefir is a yogurt resulting from bacterial fermentation of milk (read more about it from Bob's Red Mill). Kefir lasts much longer than buttermilk and provides the same amazing tenderness.
Canola Oil. You can also use vegetable oil. The oil will help give the cake moisture so don't skip this step. I would not recommend substituting with another flavored oil such as avocado, coconut or olive. Those can disrupt the flavor we are trying to achieve.
Vanilla Bean Paste. I opted for Vanilla Bean paste to highlight the gorgeous specks of vanilla. I went a bit heavy on the vanilla for this cake because I really wanted that flavor to pull through - and I think it does beautifully. You can of course use pure vanilla extract or imitation vanilla in its place.
Egg Whites. Using egg whites only will help give the cake a lighter and airier texture. If you are looking for a recipe to use up the egg yolks, look no further than my Dark Chocolate Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Let's Make This Easy Vanilla Bean Snack Cake
This recipe uses baking tools and ingredients that can be found in most homes. Please see recipe card for full list of equipment and ingredients.
Step 1: Cream butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy - about 2 to 3 minutes on medium high.
Step 2: With mixer running on low, slowly drizzle in oil and mix until well combined - about 1 minute.
Step 3: Add egg whites one at a time mixing well between each.
Step 4: Add vanilla bean extract and mix on low until well dispersed.
Step 5: In a separate bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and fine sea salt. Add ½ of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk on low until just combined.
Step 6: Add kefir and mix on low until just combined.
Step 7: Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low until only some flour streaks remain.
Step 8: Use a spatula to fold in the remaining dry ingredients to the batter.
Step 9: Butter and flour a 8x8 baking pan.
Step 10: Pour batter into pan and use spatula to help spread batter evenly.
Step 11: Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs or clean from the middle. You will also see the cake pulling away from the sides of the baking pan.
Don't Over Bake. An easy way to tell if your cake is ready (other than the toothpick trick) is watching to see if your cake is pulling away from the edges of the pan. If you see that then your cake is done or close to being done. Another sign is lightly pressing the top of the cake - if it springs back from the center, it's done. The center of the cake will be the last part that bakes so you can also jiggle the pan to see if that center is still jiggling or not.
Flour Clumps In Batter. Leading cause of this is that the cake flour was not sifted prior to mixing with wet ingredients. Use a sifter to help sift dry ingredients together prior to adding to the wet ingredients.
Over Mixing. Unfortunately over mixing is an easy mistake to make. The trick is to mix your ingredients until what you are mixing in is 'just' combined. So if mixing in the egg whites you want to mix only until you see the batter smooth and no egg white residue remaining. When mixing in the flour you want to only mix until the last bits of flour are no longer visible.
This cake is meant to be enjoyed the same day or the next day after baking for optimal freshness and flavor. You can refrigerate for up to 5 days but I recommend wrapping well in plastic wrap to trap in freshness. Remove from refrigerator a few hours prior to enjoying to allow it to come to room temperature. It can also stay fresh on the counter for up to 3 days if not frosted.
If you do frost the cake then wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator about 1 hour prior to serving to allow the cake to come to room temperature (which helps soften the crumb).
Vanilla Bean Snack Cake
- stand mixer or hand mixer with whisk attachment
- mixing bowls
- 8x8 baking pan
- silicone spatula
- kitchen scale optional but recommended
- 1 ¾ cup cake flour, sifted 218 g
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 168 g
- 1 cup sugar 200 g
- 3 ea egg whites, room temperature
- ½ cup kefir, room temperature 110 g
- ¼ c + 2 tbsp canola oil, or vegetable oil 83 g
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and then flour 8x8 baking pan. Set aside.
- Combine cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and fine sea salt and whisk until well dispersed. Set aside.
- Combine butter and sugar in separate bowl and cream butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy - about 2 to 3 minutes on medium high.
- With mixer running on low, slowly drizzle in oil and mix until well combined - about 1 minute.
- Add egg whites one at a time mixing well between each.
- Add vanilla bean extract and mix on low until well dispersed.
- Add ½ of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk on low until just combined.
- Add kefir and mix on low until just combined.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low until only some flour streaks remain.
- Use a spatula to fold in the remaining dry ingredients to the batter.
- Pour batter into buttered and floured pan and use spatula to help spread batter evenly.
- Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs or clean from the middle. You will also see the cake pulling away from the sides of the baking pan.
- Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing from baking pan and allowing to continue cooling on rack.