Vanilla Birthday Cake

Susan, AKA Kiwicook
Susan, AKA Kiwicook

Susan, AKA Kiwicook

In her days as a recipe developer, Susan has created over 450 recipes. Her Dutch and New Zealander roots serve as a basis for her culinary inspiration.

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Here’s a right doozy for you – a fluffy vanilla cake, just perfect for a birthday celebration!

And that is indeed the reason I made it – for the cake-making sister’s birthday – the one who has high expectations of whatever cake you put in front of her! And this one didn’t disappoint. A lovely light and moist cake, thanks to New Zealand’s Chelsea Sugar.


Let me tell you, as the non-cake maker of the family, it’s an easy cake to make. I made the vanilla butter icing that came with the cake recipe (see below), but added pink colouring as well as some raspberry powder for added flavour.

The beauty of a vanilla cake, of course, is that it pairs well with any flavour icing you choose to put with it. Next time though I might go with a dark chocolate, cream cheese or tangy citrus frosting just to counteract the sweetness a bit.

Anyway, enough musing… there’s a left-over piece of cake sitting in front of me which I simply cannot ignore any longer!



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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Cooling Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 12 Servings



For the cake

  • 5 large egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (at room temperature, divided)
  • 2 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter (at room temperature and cut into cubes)

For the Vanilla Bean Frosting

  • 375 grams unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups sifted icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: A few drops of food colouring and/or flavouring of your choice


  • Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 20cm (8-inch) pans.
  • In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining 1/2 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just combined. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  • Divide the batter in two into the prepared cake tins, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure 2 even layers.
  • Bake 25-35 minutes, but be careful to not overbake. Check cakes at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. They’re cooked when they turn light golden yellow, spring back when lightly pressed, and when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cakes cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  • When cooled, you can trim the tops of the cakes to create a flatter surface, however I left them as they were. Place one cake onto a serving platter and spread some of the icing over top with a palette knife. Put the second cake on top and spread more icing on top, then use the remaining icing to spread around the sides. Decorate as you please.

Vanilla Bean Frosting

  • In a mixer whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale and creamy.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. You can swap the vanilla bean and use a total of 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
Keyword Birthday Cake, Vanilla Cake
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Susan, AKA Kiwicook
About The Author
Susan, also known as the Kiwi Cook, hails from Levin, New Zealand, and has a unique Kiwi-Dutch-British heritage that influenced her culinary upbringing. As an artist, tutor, writer, and editor, Susan dedicates her weekends to creating delectable dishes. Her food philosophy embraces moderation and listening to her body's needs.


  1. This looks so good! It’s my mum’s birthday tomorrow so I was going to make her a cake today- I may even try this recipe out! 🙂

  2. I have a fabulous chocolate cake recipe but was just thinking the other day how I need to find a good vanilla cake recipe, so thank you! Pinning this to try next time there’s a birthday!

  3. Thanks again Susan, today I made this cake for my daughters 2nd birthday it’s so tasty and light. Love it so much would have to be my favourite along with your simple chocolate cake!

  4. Hi there, I was wondering where you got your raspberry powder from? I will be making this cake for my fiance’s 31st birthday! Thanks, Anna

  5. Would this work in a square tin? I assume I would need to change the cooking time/temp? Thinking about using it to make a 5 for my daughters birthday so i will need to do a round cake and a square one to cut the right shapes…. thanks

    • Hi Manta. Yes, absolutely you can use a square tin. Presuming the square tin is roughly speaking, a similar size to the round tin and you’re baking similar volumes of batter in each tin, there should be little difference in cooking time, and no temperature difference. Just use the same method to check they’re cooked (insert a skewer) and you should be fine. The other option, if you’re using the square tin because you don’t have two round tins, is to either bake one cake after another (in the round tin), or make one cake in the round tin and then slice it in half horizontally once it’s baked. You’d keep the same temperature to cook the bigger cake, but it would take a fair bit longer – perhaps even double the time – just make sure the tin is high enough (the batter should come up to about 2/3rds). Hope that helps.


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