Double Vanilla Butter Cake

Double Vanilla Butter cake

Today, as part of our month of desserts, we’re featuring a sweet cake from Posie Harwood of 600 Acres and Food52. With double the vanilla and a crunchy sugared crust, this cake will satisfy every sweet tooth. Here’s how to bake it up…

Double Vanilla Butter Cake
By Posie Harwood of 600 Acres

Say you’ve got a birthday coming up, you’re hosting a dinner party or bringing dessert for a baby shower. The last thing you want is a cake that falls flat or tastes like baking soda. That’s where this cake comes in. I loved it so much, that I wrote about it for my weekly Food52 column and I’ve made it over and over again since then.

Two kinds of vanilla (extract and paste) give it a rich, distinctive flavor. It’s delicate and sweet, with a moist and tender crumb. My favorite part is the golden, slightly crunchy sugared crust that develops around the edges. The trick? Instead of buttering and flouring the pan, you butter and sugar it. If you don’t want to make the chantilly cream (which is a fancy way of saying sweetened vanilla whipped cream), you can use plain whipped cream. This cake freezes beautifully, and would be great with ice cream, fresh fruit or a dollop of lemon curd.

You’ll need:

1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting the pan
3 eggs, warmed slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (you can substitute an equal amount of vanilla extract)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
14 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment, grease the sides and base and dust it with granulated sugar. Set aside.

If your eggs are cold, place them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Having your eggs warmed will help with the next step of beating lots of air into them.

In a stand mixer or large bowl with hand-held electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar for 4 to 5 minutes. The mixture should be pale and almost doubled in size. When you lift up your beater, the mixture should fall in thick ribbons.

Add the vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract and salt. Mix gently.

Sift the flour over the egg mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold the flour into the batter until no streaks remain. You want to be careful not to deflate all that air you just spent time beating into the eggs and sugar.

Add the melted butter to the batter and fold gently but thoroughly using a spatula until the batter is well-mixed.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The cake should start to pull away from the sides. It will puff up considerably in the oven, but will deflate a bit once you take it out, which is fine.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan and let the cake cool for 5 minutes. Turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Double Vanilla Butter Cake

Double Vanilla Butter Cake

Thank you so much, Posie!

P.S. More delicious recipes, including blueberry coffee cake and tangy lemon cake.

(Recipe and photos by Posie Harwood. Thanks to Stella Blackmon for helping with this series.)

  1. Marsha says...

    Made this for a dinner party last night — the flavor was good, but the cake was a more like a dry sponge cake…not the dense, slightly moist/slightly gooey way it looks in the picture. I did have to make it in a 9″ springform rather than an 8″ cake pan…so it was thinner. But I adjusted the baking time to just just about 30 minutes band it was still dry. Might try it again and take it out much earlier to see if that helps…

  2. Victor says...


    I didn’t see if this was addressed before – but does this recipe require baking soda/baking powder? I’m a novice bake and want to try this recipe because it looks delicious and it seems simple enough for me to do.

    Would anyone happen to know if I can substitute the one (1) cup of granulated sugar with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce? I want to keep the sugar as low as possible.

    Thank You,

  3. Joana says...

    It looks really good but Is there any baking powder or baking soda in the recipe? Thanks!!!

  4. sounds and looks absolutely divine!! Thank you for sharing this! What a treat.

  5. Amanda Glavin says...

    I have now made this cake once a week for the past 3 weeks and we eat it in two sittings. It’s so good and I’m happy to be using my vanilla bean paste.

  6. Hannah says...

    (Not an avid baker) I bake with the parchment paper in?

    • Mae says...

      Yes…it will just help your cake come out without sticking. It will stay in the pan after you plop the cake out after cooling.

  7. This looks AMAZING. Have you ever had the butter cake at Mastro’s Restaurant in BH? It is SOOOO good, and now it looks like I might have a prayer of having something as delicious but home-made. So thank you. :)

  8. tracey says...

    I made it over the weekend and it was so good! I didn’t get as much of a crunchy outer layer as I would have liked. I will definitely make this again and maybe dust a bit more sugar. I was worried about how it would look because when I line the pan with parchment paper the paper gets all wrinkled but it still looked ok (not as shiny and smooth as yours but not bad at all). I served it with fresh fruit and homemade whipped cream. Yum.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  9. would a 9-inch round cake pan work too?

    • Posie says...

      You can use a bigger pan in a pinch, but I’d keep an eye on the baking time as it’ll like be finished sooner since it won’t be as thick. I wouldn’t go any larger than 9″ though. Good luck!

  10. Gemma says...

    I substituted the flour for almond meal so that it would be gluten free and it’s delicious! A bit flatter and wetter, but that’s a good thing in my books! Yum yum yum.

  11. I am baking it right now – today is my mother’s 70th birthday and we are taking cake to eat with my grandmother (who is 96). I thought this cake sounded so yummy, and a nice match with a glass of champagne on a warm summer afternoon. Thank you for the share. (my 6 year old son wants to top it with chocolate icing and marshmallows though, so I am going to suggest we take those in a bowl for people to add there so we don’t squish it in the car)

  12. Amy says...

    Just made this, it’s amazing! And so simple that my toddler could help.

  13. It’s in the oven, fingers crossed it turns out! I used salted butter and a little over 1/8 tsp salt, we’ll see if it’s on the saltier side.

  14. Looks like the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea!

  15. Sally says...

    Simple cakes like this are my favorite to make — and eat!

  16. María José says...

    It looks so yummy! What type of flour does it take?

    • Posie says...

      Use all-purpose flour (unbleached ideally).

    • maría josé says...

      Thanks! : ))

  17. Porkchop says...

    Have two of these in the oven! Also made lemon curd for the first time :O Gonna layer it all up. Bought some cream too to whip and serve on the side. Bringing into work tomorrow.

    • Mae says...

      Oooooo! How did this turn out? Sounds dreamy!

  18. This sounds amazing! Although, I don’t know if I have that much butter on hand to test it out tonight, maybe soon.

  19. Dj says...

    Now this I can do! I really dislike finicky unnecessary fancy recipes.

  20. This sounds sooo nice! I’ve never tried a butter cake before… it sounds pretty good to me though! I’ll saving this and making it at some point!
    Aleeha xXx

  21. I would love to know what the tablespoons of butter equates to in grams?
    Thank you, and it looks delicious.

    • Anita says...

      Just looked it up, 200g (198g exactly).

    • Niki says...

      2 tbsp of butter is equivalent to 1 ounce (or 28.4 grams). So the 14 tbsp would be 7 ounces or 198.5 grams

  22. I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and totally need to wiggle my way into a formal gown but I want to bake this and then just scarf it down all myself.


  23. Blair Williams says...

    I made this for Valentine’s Day, and it was so. good. The butter and sugar on the pan make such a nice, light caramel on the edges. And then the cake itself is fragrant and delicious. This cake is now a regular visitor to our table!

  24. This looks excellent! I love your pictures, I just wanna dig right in…

  25. Amy P says...

    Reminds me of the dutch boterkoek (butter cake) with almond flavouring that I used to make all the time! Time for another batch :)

    • Beth says...

      I thought the same thing! My Dutch grandmother made that cake all the time when I was a kid.

  26. My children had just arrived home from school and this page was still open, they all begged me to make this it looks so good!

  27. the sugar crust is so smart- i love when a cake is perfectly moist inside, but a crunchier layer on the outside sounds like a perfect combo

  28. Wow wow wow. I’m making this ASAP. I love a good, simple cake.

  29. Yum! That looks delicious! I think baking is more my forte than cooking actual meals. Also that cake stand is adorable.

    Sweet Horizon

  30. This looks nice and moist! I bet it would be great with a coulis of berries, too.

  31. This sounds amazing! Although, I don’t know if I have that much butter on hand to test it out tonight, maybe soon.

  32. Kate says...

    You twisted my arm…