Classic Vanilla Butter Birthday Cake

For the cake:
Yield: three 8-inch round cake layers


4 large eggs (separated), at room temperature

3 1/2 cups (420 g/14.5 oz) sifted cake flour

4 teaspoons (20 g) baking powder

1/2 (3 g) teaspoon salt

1 cup (227 g/2 sticks/8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups (400 g/14 oz) granulated sugar, divided

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 cup (250 mL) milk, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) cream of tartar


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180° C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour three – 8 inch (20 cm) round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease and flour parchment paper.

2. While eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic warp and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

3. In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

5. In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over-mix the batter or it will deflate.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan gently. Once the cakes of completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour (to make filling and frosting the cakes easier).

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking
Sugary Birthday Buttercream Frosting         
Yield: Enough for filling & frosting a 3-layer, 8″ round cake

1 cup (227 g/2 sticks/8 oz) unsalted butter, softened

6 cups (750 g/1 lb + 10 oz) icing sugar (confectioners’)

1/2 cup (125 ml) whipping cream (35%)

2 tablespoons (30 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon (15 mL) water

a pinch of salt

1. Beat the butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the vanilla, water, whipping cream, and salt, and whip on med-high speed until fluffy and smooth–about 4 minutes. If consistency is too thick, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, then whip again for 30 seconds or so.
Good luck & enjoy!