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Cakes are central to so many occasions. It’s your birthday? You get a birthday cake! Wedding time? The cake is the show-stopping centerpiece. High school graduation party? A cake to congratulate. Retirement? Yep, another cake! Cakes bring people together. We sing around the cake together, we cheer in unison, we gather to watch the bride and groom cut the cake — if there’s a celebration, its time for cake!
Our easy classic vanilla layer cake is the answer when you need a great cake but you’re short on time. This is the best vanilla cake recipe, and it's an easy cake recipe.
How to make a layer cake
Assembling the cake
How to frost a cake
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- 1 White Cake Mix (I like Duncan Hines Classic White best)
- 1 package (3 oz.) dry Vanilla Cook & Serve pudding mix
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup sour cream
- ¾ cup water
- ⅓ cup oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- (3 6 or 8-inch round metal cake pans)
For Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional--the added flavor is really good)
- 8-cups sifted confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
- ½ cup milk or cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For a 3 layer cake: Lightly grease sides and bottom of three 6-inch (if you want it taller and narrower) or 8-inch (if you want it shorter and wider like a traditional cake) round cake pans.
Cut parchment paper by tracing the bottom of pan and insert circle of paper to cover only bottom of pan. (For a 2 layer cake, use two 8-inch round metal cake pans.)
Blend cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, water and oil in a large bowl at low speed of electric mixer about 30 seconds to moisten all ingredients.
Beat at medium speed of electric mixer for 2 minutes.
Use a rubber scraper to scrape sides of bowl and pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake immediately. (20-23 minutes for 3 layers; 25-28 minutes for 2 layers.)
Note: Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and cake springs back when touched gently.
Cool cakes in pan on cooling rack about 15 minutes, then remove cakes from pan by running a metal spatula between the edge of cake and pan and inverting cakes on cooling rack.
For Buttercream Frosting:
1. In a large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.
2. Add vanilla & almond.
3. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
4. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
5. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. (I like to frost immediately after making frosting while it is soft and smooth.)
To Frost Cake:
I find it easiest to frost the cake layers if they are frozen (see cake notes). For a 3-layer cake I like to stack each layer upside down. Make sure they are level by pushing layer down while slightly warm or trimming/shaving off a bit if there is a pronounced dome.
For each layer, place a big blob of frosting in the middle; then push to sides with spatula while turning the cake. Frosting should slightly pass the edges of the cake.
Stack layers upside down and repeat.
I find it easiest to fill pastry bag and large tip with frosting, then pipe around sides of the cake in wide stripes. Go back with narrow metal off set spatula to smooth and spread.
Finish with top layer.
Once cool, wrap and freeze until ready to use. It’s much easier to frost a frozen cake layer!
For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Re-whip before using.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 326Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 195mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 3g
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