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vanilla bean birthday cake

Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


A classic vanilla bean birthday cake covered top to bottom in SPRINKLES! The perfect celebration cake!



For the cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for preparing cake pans
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • Nonpareil sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 pinch salt


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with baking spray. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper, then spray paper. Dust pans with flour; invert and rap pans to remove excess flour.
  2. In a large bowl, stir milk, egg whites, vanilla and vanilla bean seeds until combined.
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, stir cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Cut butter into cubes and add to bowl; stir on low speed 2 minutes until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl and beat another 15 seconds.
  5. Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake on center rack 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 5 minutes, then carefully invert cakes and transfer, flat-side down, to a cooling rack to cool completely, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, make frosting: In a clean bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat butter on medium speed 3 minutes until soft, light and fluffy. Add 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating on high speed after each addition until just combined.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons milk, plus vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.
  8. Frosting should be a firm, yet smooth and spreadable consistency. If too soft, stir in remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until firm. If too firm, stir in more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until soft.
  9. Use a serrated knife to trim domed tops of fully cooled cakes to create a flat surface. Place one cake, cut-side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Use an offset spatula to frost top of cake. Top with second cake, cut-side down. Frost sides and top of cakes. Decorate with nonpareil sprinkles, if desired.


  • A buttercream-frosted cake can stay out at room temperature (covered with a cake stand topper or plastic wrap) for 2 to 3 days – after that, though, it’s best to store the cake in the refrigerator.
  • While you can use all-purpose flour for cakes, I find that cake flour really does make a difference. It gives the cake a lighter crumb but without being crumbly.
  • I also make sure my refrigerated ingredients (such as milk, eggs and butter) are at room temperature, so I take them out of the fridge a few hours before I’m ready to bake. For this recipe, I made sure the milk and egg whites were around 65°F and the butter was still firm but with some give. If the milk and eggs aren’t quite warm enough, place them in bowls or measuring cups in a shallow bath of warm water in the sink for a few minutes until they reach the appropriate temperature.

Keywords: sprinkles cake, vanilla cake, birthday cake, vanilla buttercream frosting