Quick & Easy Vanilla Cake
Try to have your oil at room temperature and aerate your flour before measuring. This was not an easy recipe to perfect so for a good result, do not make any changes. - Jenny Jones
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (less 2 Tablespoons) cool water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use avocado oil)
- 1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
- Place dry ingredients into a bowl and combine well, stirring or whisking until thoroughly blended.
- In a small bowl, combine water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
- Add liquids to flour mixture & gently stir until there are no lumps (about 30 seconds).
- Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely in the pan and frost. (try my 2-Minute Vanilla Frosting)
Too much sugar? I tried using less sugar but it did not turn out.
Use a different pan? I tried an 8-inch round pan and it did not turn out.
More: There's more on this recipe in my blog. Click here.
I made this cake according to the recipe and it was great. I have been looking for a dairy free cake and this one takes the…well…CAKE!!! Lol!!! I used an 8in round pan and it turned out great. I wanted it to be a bit taller because I intended to torte the cake. I added a bag of Lily’s White Choclate Baling Chips to the batter. I then made a simple buttercream and in between the layers I piped a dam strip around the edge in between the two layers and in the middle I filled it with strawberry preserves. I then mixed some strawberry preserves into the buttercream and piped some swirls all around the edge of the top of the cake and spread a nice layer of the preserves in the middle of the top of the cake. I left the sides bare because it looked beautiful. It turned out to be one of the best and most beautiful tea cakes. Thank you so much for this incredibly simple recipe. It was absolutely delicious and could not have been more simple and incredibly versatile. This is being added to my personal arsenal of recipes I keep for sudden and last minute baking.
I also increased the vanilla to 2 1/2 tsp as I love a very prominent vanilla flavor. Pro tip: this may seem obvious but one of the most important ingredient in any bakers kitchen is a high quality PURE vanilla extract. Yes it is expensive but it’s beyond worth it as it makes all the difference.
How much water do I use? It says 1 cup (less than two tablespoons). What does that mean? I want to make tomorrow for my sons birthday. Please help! Also is this a sweet tasking cake?
Measure one cup and then remove 2 tablespoons from the cup so you use a little less than one cup. It says “1 cup (less 2 Tablespoons)” not less THAN… I hope that helps.
Yes thank you that helps! Also if I don’t have white distilled vinegar, will apple cider or lemon work just as good? Which one would be better? Or should I go get vinegar?
Just made it…it’s cooling but I tried the mix before I put it in the oven and it tastes so good!! Can’t wait to try the frosting recipe and eat it tonight!
Happy New Year 2023! I made this cake in two 6 inch round cake pans. I used clear vanilla to keep the cake really white and used Almond extract in Jenny’s 2 minute vanilla frosting. It was just enough frosting to use inbetween the two layers and the top. I left the sides bare and sprinkled birthday party color sprinkles on top. Delicious! Have a pretty slice now with a glass of ice cold milk. Thank you for a great recipe that uses pantry ingredients for any spur of the moment party!
I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo not Auroras friend
I ate half the batter and had to make another recipe to fill pan, so good raw though. But I suggest not copying me. I love trying new recipes. I am only 12 but have tried so many and this one is in my top 10 for sure. Me and my friend Izzy made this recipe together and made quite a mess, and she has flour all over her toes. we had fun, though we almost peed our pants, thankfully we did not, thankfully. how are you guys and girls doing.
Aurora you are so strange
I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo not Auroras friend
so yummy! Shoud make a half recipe though, so hard to split apart
Gotta love you young gals!
So happy that you are trying Jenny’s great recipes and having fun while doing it.
I was your age when I started baking every weekend and still love doing it now that I am a grandmother and the kiddies love it too!
Jenny you are inspiring so many!
This is NO NEW recipe. This recipe was published in one of my childhood magazines. It was called “Crazy Cake” then. I must have been around 10 years of age and I will be 82 in a few months been making this Crazy Cake all these years. It amazes me how someone takes an old recipe, renames it, and behold younger people think it’s new. I just made “Crazy Cake” in Chocolate and spice this past week. I just saw this same recipe, titled, “Poor Man’s Cake” and War-time cake.” (Some people will say the recipe they’re making is 100 years old or whatever not claiming it is new or original.)
Peggy, like many home cooks, I have my own version of recipes that have been around for years, including this cake, meatloaf, sandwich bread, pizza, mac & cheese, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal cookies, apple pie, pancakes, I could go on. With millions of cooks around the world, I expect that some recipes will be similar. I like to think my methods are simpler, which is helpful to most busy cooks. Rather than suggest I am dishonest, I hope you can appreciate that I am just sharing the recipes that I have developed at home, recipes that are original to me, as I do not copy other recipes to claim as my own.
p.s. Your version of Crazy Cake with chocolate and spice sounds good. If you like, feel free to share your recipe here.
Right on, Jenny. Thanks so much for your versions of recipes — your Dutch oven bread got me hooked on all you do, and I just think your sense of humor is a hoot!
I live alone in Minnesota lake country and playing your videos while I cook/bake helps me feel not so alone.
I’m going to try this cake recipe as cupcakes… hoping it works!
Jenny, I love your recipes. You are making cooking and baking SO much easier AND fun. I am almost 78 and appreciate the humor you put in your videos.
Many thanks and blessings to you,
I just want to say thank you Jenny! Your recipies always turn out for me and there is a lot to be said for that, thank you for making recipies bullet proof and yummy and easy! I am enjoying your site soooooo much! So is hubby : )
Wow OK Negative Nancy she’s just sharing recipes it’s not that serious. Relax and try smiling.
Thank you, Jenny, for this marvelous recipe. As an extreme novice in cooking and baking, I never would have known about these cakes, and you are the one I learned these from.
Also, your videos are clever, funny, a joy to watch, and you offer so much free information, and useful, step-by-step instructions, and are not asking anything in return.
Very appreciated – thank you for sharing…you are a marvel in this particular day and age!
PS – my husband LOVES these cakes (the chocolate one also) and his favorites are the Pepperidge Farm Cakes. This is so close in lightness and goodness. We usually eat 3/4 of the cake when I make it!
I grew up knowing this as “my grandma’s secret cake.” I love that Jenny shared her recipe. It totally reminded me of my grandma’s cake. Also love that it super easy to make. My grandma never wrote any of her recipes down. She would just say, “Watch, and learn. Maybe one day…if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get the recipe.” Then she’d chuckle. Oh I’ve tried to re-create her recipe over the years. I gave up. My son was looking for an easy cake recipe, something quick. Like right now. He happened on this one. When I tasted it, 😋 😍 loving memories of where, and when, and a sweet chuckle. Only this time, it was me. I enjoy this making this cake often. Thank you Jenny for sharing💖
Hi Jenny, Happy Mother’s Day! I made your recipe for Vanilla Cake today. It was a double batch for both cake and frosting. Took your advice every step of the way. This cake is delicious. Thank you very much for your hard work to make such an excellent recipe and for sharing! I added this to my (Keep Recipes) I wanted to post a picture but couldn’t figure out how to do it. Most important is, it came out perfect. God Bless! Much Appreciated!!!
Hi Jenny, Happy Mother’s Day! I made your recipe for Vanilla Cake today. It was a double batch for both cake and frosting. Took your advice every step of the way. This cake is delicious. Thank you very much for your hard work to make such an excellent recipe and for sharing! I added this to my (Keep Recipes) I wanted to post a picture but couldn’t figure out how to do it. Most important is, it was delicious and came out perfect. God Bless! Much Appreciated!!!
If I put half a cup of sugar should I reduce the vanilla too?
Sugar is needed for sweetness as well as structure. 1/2 cup of sugar will not provide enough of either.
Cake turned out great. Super easy; used lemon instead of vinegar. Baked two portions to make a layered cake for husband’s bday today.
Hubby used the stand mixer and I think it changed the texture to strangely spongey. Icing was very tasty though.
I made it today and turned out beautiful 😊
I promised cupcakes so I gave it a shot knowing if it failed it would be my fault. I am allergic to milk eggs and soy. I made the decision a while ago to only make desserts I can have. They came out beautifully.
This was SO good! I couldn’t believe how moist and delicate it was. Excellent recipe. I followed it exactly as written. My new favorite cake.
Would this recipe for vanilla cake taste good if I use a gluten free flour blend as I have celiac?
Any suggestions will be appreciated.
Hi Jenny, I just wanted to thank you for this delicious and easy cake and frosting. This is the second time I have made this wonderful cake and my husband and son and I can’t get enough of it!!
Thank you for sharing your recipes with us. And you are a very entertaining cook, as well!!
I made this with my 3 year old granddaughter. Quick, easy and delicious. Easy clean up too. Thank you.
Love Love this easy cake. I made it with your 2 min chocolate frosting and my kids devoured it.
cake did not rise well followed recipe to a tee…not sure if I want to keep it
When someone says they followed the recipe to a T and it didn’t turn out, they did not follow it to a T. Jenny even said not to make any changes. I made this recipe a dozen times and it always turns out. I suggest you check your leaveners for freshness, don’t change anything, and use a 9-inch pan.
Can you lemon juice in place of vinegar?
for your info i did not make ANY changes the cake sucked and besides i found a way better one
I have made so many of Jenny’s recipes this one was quick, easy but most of all delicious. I am an avid baker. I added lady fingers to the outside and made a gorgeous dessert. This helped make an amazing dessert. Sorry you were disappointed next time try not being so rude.
Quick & easy vanilla cake … always sinks in the center when it cools. What am I doing wrong ??
See photo. Thank you
Google “why does my cake sink in the middle”
I really like Jenny’s recipes, especially the desserts, because they remind me so much of the war-time desserts, cakes and dessert breads, since you can make them without butter, lard or eggs. These were items scarce as hens teeth during and even after World War II. I was born just after the war and I watched my grandmother and great-aunt bake that way. Also, I still use her recipes that were written: “not too heaping a teaspoon” and a “scant cup of lard” (which I replaced with just a scant cup of crisco”. Jenny’s are definitely healthier. Also, I live in Ontario, Canada and our eggs cost 50 cents a piece (yes, that’s right!), so I appreciate these recipes a great deal. I recently came across a wartime recipe for “water pie”, and it really does exist. I think Paula Deen found a recipe for it as well. My favourite recipe from my grandmother was her really soft oatmeal cookies that began with “soaking golden raisins in a cup of strong coffee over night” and the cookies are really like little muffins.☺️ …my favourite!
What an awesome idea to soak raisins in coffee for oatmeal cookies! Thank you so much for sharing your grandmother’s trick! Going to try this in my next batch. 😁👍
I made this cake for the first time last night and it was absolutely delicious. I split it into two 9-inch pans and baked it at 340 degrees for 20 minutes and it came out perfect. Frosted it with whipped cream and fresh strawberries and it is now my family’s favorite cake. I know I’ll be making this again and again. Thank you!
I absolutely love this recipe! I wanted something healthy and easier to make so I could use it instead of shortcake. I made mine in one 8” square glass baking pan. Came out beautifully! I cut mine into nine squares and used one square sliced in half for each plate. On top of the bottom layer I placed crushed pineapple with juice straight from the can, then a spoonful of freshly whipped cream, top piece of the square and more pineapple and whipped cream!! That is so much easier and healthier than my old recipe for shortcake. Thank you to Jenny again for all her hard work to make these recipes for us!!❤️💕☺️ I pretty much use only Jenny’s recipes for nearly all the food I make!
Sorry, 🙄. P.S. from me above: I baked mine @350 F for 28 min in one square 8” glass pan. No other changes. (I didn’t know how to add this to my first comment 🙃) I’m a klutz!
I LOVE you, Jenny! You have saved me so many times when I’m in frantic/panic cooking mode, trying to pull together a meal for company. This cake is definitely a save for me – definitely saved me a lot of time and fuss. I baked it in an 8″ square pan which worked well; then sliced it horizontally to fill with lemon curd & topped with a light glaze. Serving for dessert with homemade vanilla ice cream. Simple and easy. THANK YOU!!!
I made this vanilla cake with the avocado oil and it turned out great but it had an unusual taste (I think from the oil). I used Wegmans brand extra virgin avocado oil. Did you use a different type?
Not all avocado oils are the same. Some are quite strong tasting. I use Chosen Foods brand, which is totally flavorless.
I have loved baking cakes since my childhood. Unfortunately, my hubby prefers pies to cakes, so it isn’t as much fun to bake for him. However, when he tasted this yellow cake, he declared it was BETTER THAN PIE. He kept sneaking slices throughout the night, and when I woke up the next morning, the cake was 3/4 gone. He sheepishly looked at me and said: I guess a mouse got into it. Hahaha??. He can’t wait for me to make it again. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Jenny. This one is a keeper, even without the icing.
Jenny ~ I made this today to share with my next door elder. I served it with apple-cranberry-orange sauce leftover from Thanksgiving. Oh my! So fabulous! I’m always grateful for your clever recipes and especially during pandemic because they’re so thoughtful with ingredients and portion sizes. Very grateful for you Jenny, thank you.
This cake is fabulous! I actually cut the recipe in half and used three mini bundt cakes. Baked for 20 min and they came out perfectly … cakes were unbelievably moist. Used your vanilla icing but thinned out with lemon juice. Poured over slightly warm cake, topped with sliced bananas and sprinkled with finely chopped walnuts. Served still warm with chamomile tea! DELICIOUS!!
This was a big hit with my husband and don tonight. Whipped it up while we were relaxing after dinner, and within 1 hour we had a delicious dessert to satisfy their sweet craving. Next time, I’m teaching them how to make it! Thanks Jenny! Your recipes are always a hit in our house.
In this age of staying home more, I just made this cake….on a whim. OMG!!! It was just what I was craving!! And it couldn’t have been simpler to make. Who makes a “proper cake” without eggs…and uses water??? My mind is blown!!! This little recipe is going to get a lot of play!!! ???
So true! The same just happened in my house!
i’m going to make it but i notice that there is no frosting? i need it for my moms birthday what should i do???
hi tilly billy,
make a frosting
I didn’t know how and would like a recipe, that’s why i asked
i’m making the cake right now!!!
I’m soooo exited to taste it!!!
I know your question about a frosting was posted a few months back but there’s a recipe for a 2 minute frosting with a link in the cake instructions on step #6. May not be helpful to you now but could be to someone like me who does read reviews 🙂
There’s a frosting recipe at the bottom of the recipe.
haha i like your name 🤣
There is a link for my “2-Minute Vanilla Frosting” in step 6. Or you can just click on this link: https://www.jennycancook.com/recipes/2-minute-vanilla-frosting/
sorry, i didn’t notice that
Thank you soooooooo much!!!
By Now Your Moms Birthday Must Have Passed But If You Look At The Instructions At The End It Says https://www.jennycancook.com/recipes/2-minute-vanilla-frosting/
Enjoy you very much. I really was hoping you be able to send me one of your books
I am 90 yrs old and would like my children to see how much joy you have given me
You made my day faq
You made my day
It was E X C E L L E N T! I wasn’t expecting much since it was so simple but I was surprised. Enough that I would write a review which I never do. It does taste like Birthday cake. I followed the recipe exactly but doubled the frosting. I plan to freeze some layers for later.
I made a lemon version of the vanilla cake using your Lemon Brownies glaze recipe and changed the cake slightly with great results.
For the cake I swapped lemon juice for the vinegar and the 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla was swapped for more lemon juice to keep the liquid amount the same. I added the zest of 2 lemons. Delicious.
I have made probably 20 loaves of your no knead bread for friend. We all love it. Love your videos!
No, I have decided your life would have been so boring being a chemist, after reading your bio, consider writing a book, would not be a best seller, but that’s not the object, just an interesting read, think about it, you have so many followers who would love it ??
I was so excited to make this cake, however after searching for the 9”pan, remembered I threw it out, because it was a mess, my dear neighbor who shops and took pity on me, found me one at Walmart, a Wilton at that, you should have been a chemist, If everyone pays attention to directions, it is perfect, I did your fast 2 minute chocolate icing, added shredded coconut left it in the pan, delicious, that dear neighbor is on a continuous diet, would not let me share, Stay healthy, the world needs you, God is on your side!,,❤️
We did not like this cake at all, neither the taste not the texture.
I was very disappointed as I have used your recipe for sweet rolls and polishdonuts.
You honestly could not keep that opinion to yourself? It was so important to share? You probably made it wrong.
I agree with you. What purpose did the comment serve. I use Jenny’s recipes all the time.
Jenny–I love all of your recipes.The no knead bread has becomes Gordy’s bread–everybody wants me to bake my bread for them
I made the Vanilla cake for the family and everybody loved it.I used sugar that had been laced with vanilla beans and the flavor was little more intense
Thank you for all the recipes!!! Gordy
Loved this recipe! Baked this cake twice – first time exactly as recipe indicates. Yummy!
Second time with minor changes-fresh lemon juice instead of vinegar (personally I always seem to find vinegar leaves a slight aftertaste somehow), teaspoon or so grated lemon rind, used 1/2 butter and 1/2 oil (I know, defeats intent of dairy free). We enjoyed these revisions as a “summery” version.
So glad you tried lemon juice I have the same aftertaste problem when I use the vinegar. Thanks for sharing your changes!
What did you use instead of vinegAr?
Made this cake immediately after Jenny posted it since I had all the ingredients. It turned out great!!! I actually only had a 9 inch pie pan and that worked and may help someone else that doesn’t have the cake one. I also used avocado oil like Jenny mentions. I didn’t have the white vinegar, but had apple cider vinegar and it worked also! The only thing that I did have to change was the cooking time. It definitely was NOT ready in 30 minutes. I poked the center at 30 minutes and it was very gooey still. Put it in 5 more minutes, still the toothpick came out sticky. Ended up going another 10 more minutes. Overall, it tasted wonderful! My boyfriend tried it that evening and he said it was soooo good and he’s very picky. I topped it off with Jenny’s 2 minute vanilla frosting and boy does it taste just like birthday cakes did when you were a child!!! Loved it all and I’m making it again tonight!
Wow, what flavour and so easy, thank you you are awsome
Jenny, You are brilliant! I made this incredible cake yesterday, following your recipie exactly, and it is absolutely the BEST white cake I have ever eaten! I can’t wait to share it with my family and friends………it is “over the moon” good! Thank You so very much!
I made the vanilla cake today. While I appreciate the effort that goes into developing a recipe, we did not like the cake. We found it “gluey” in texture and unfortunately, had to discard it.
Hmmm… it sounds like you used the wrong pan. Jenny said an 8-inch pan made it sticky and dense and not edible. Try it again – her recipes never fail.
Yes. She said to not make any changes to the recipe…pan included.
Jenny actually said to use a 9 inch cake pan, NOT 8 inch 🙂
I used an 8 inch pan the first time too. I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong. Then I read the don’t use an 9 inch pan thing. Used a 9 inch pan the second time and perfection.
I used an 8 inch pan the first time too. I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong. Then I read the don’t use an 8 inch pan thing. Used a 9 inch pan the second time and perfection.
Easy to make just followed the directions exactly and it came out moist and not overly sweet. It’s a winner for us! Thanks Jenny!!
Can you use eggs. I noticed you did not have eggs in the recipe
Jenny, OMGGGGGGG, it is like you answered my prayers! My family thinks I can cook reallly great chocolate cake because I made your no eggs, no butter chocolate cake, and they think it is fantastic (as do I of course!) I have a few in my family that are not choc. fans, so I was trying to think of how to make the chocolate cake into a vanilla version, then POOF I got an email with that exact thing from you!!!! Now my family will REALLY think i know what I am doing…I may have to tell them its you, so they don’t ask for other stuff I might not be able to do! LOL, thank you a million and three times for this cake, its gonna be made into a lot of different versions for my non choc. peeps! YOU ROCK!!!!
any chance of a sour cream coffee cake recipe??? I know it would be great. thank you
May I substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil?
Is this cake dense enough to hold up to Fresh blueberry sauce for a topping?
Absolutely.. that would work!
Does anyone know if white vinegar can replace distilled white vinegar.
I am from Canada and have asked for distilled vinegar and grocery
stores here have not heard of distilled vinegar. Is our white vinegar
the same. We have pickling vinegar and white vinegar.
If anyone from Canada do you know where to buy distilled white vinegar.
White vinegar not pickling vinegar works in this recipe…I’ve made this cake for years. Great recipe it was my first cake my mother taught me to bake.
I’m in Canada too, the white vinegar you see sold in our grocery stores which will have 5% acidic acid or just 5% on the label, including no name white vinegar sold at super store is the same thing as distilled white vinegar.
You don’t want to use pickling vinegar for this recipe as the acidity is too high usually 7% or more in some brands. The only thing I use pickling vinegar for if my dear spouse has picked some up by mistake is to use it with baking soda to keep sink drains clear and to mix with water to clean the windows.
Hope this helps
I picked up Distilled vinegar at Canadian Tire on-line ordering and picked it up
curbside . I live in the Niagara region .
I too did not have distilled white vinegar or white vinegar, but I Googled substitutes for it and it said I could use apple cider vinegar, which I did have. It worked out great! It also mentions if you do not have any of these vinegars, you can use lemon juice or any acidic fruit juice should work. Hope this helps!
Does anyone know if this recipe can be successfully doubled to make a 9×13 cake? Thanks.
How can I forward this to my daughter using email?
Perhaps just email your daughter , have her Google , Jenny Can Cook , and look for the recipe , Quick and Easy Vanilla Cake.
Just copy the link to this page, https://www.jennycancook.com/recipes/quick-easy-vanilla-cake/ into an email, and she will be able to see it. :))
At the very bottom, just above the end of the boundary lines around the recipe (text box) you will see what are called Icons for different ways to share this receipt
you see an F for Facebook, a P for Pinterest and so on …. there is one that looks like an envelope and that is how you would share the contents by email.
I hope that helps you out
To send the recipe open the recipe and go to bottom of recipe and click on the envelope, than type in the email address to who you want to send it to.
At the bottom of the recipe there are 5 little boxes you can use to share the recipe. From left to right they are:
If you click the Email one (envelope in blue) an email will pop up with the link to the recipe already there, and you just put in her email and click send.
To see the icons, click here: https://bit.ly/31MBSIR
use your snip function and paste it into a email to send.