The Search for the Perfect Vanilla Cake: A Series

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All of my life, my favorite cake has been vanilla-vanilla. I went through a red velvet obsession a few years back and once I found my go to chocolate cake recipe last year, I developed a new fondness for chocolate cake. Without fail though, if given the choice between all the cakes, 99% of the time, I’m picking vanilla-vanilla. As I’ve baked more and more in recent years, and stocked my arsenal with a go-to chocolate, a go-to red velvet and a go-to carrot cake recipe, the perfect vanilla cake still eludes me. I’ve tried many variations, and for the most part I’ve found them too dry, too dense, too sweet, not cake-y enough or not enough vanilla flavor. I’m looking for the very best from-scratch vanilla cake recipe that I will know by heart when I’m an old lady because I’ve made it so many times. I want it to be one that everyone LOVES, myself included. A good, reliable vanilla cake recipe is such an important staple for a baker. Once you have one, the possibilities are endless.

Everyone has different ideas of what “the best” means to them but my criteria is this:

I’m looking for the perfect middle-of-the-road density; sturdy enough to stand up to fillings and frostings and to travel well, as my cakes often do. It can’t be too heavy either though.

 A good dose of vanilla flavor. Real, wholesome vanilla flavor. Nothing artificial.

 Not too sweet; I want there to be a light sweetness, but not so much that with frosting it would be overpowering.

 Moisture. Dry cake is the worst.

 I want it to be simple; I’m trying to avoid fussy methods or hard to find ingredients.

magnolia-cupcakes

In order to find the “one” I’m going to test some of the most popular vanilla cake recipes around. Choosing wasn’t easy as so many reviews vary for each one I was considering. Baking is so subjective. So many factors can affect the end result, like ingredients, techniques, ovens and so on. I will follow each recipe I am testing to the letter and will share my results with you, as well as give a score out of 5 points for each of my criteria. These are:

  •  Density
  •  Vanilla Flavor
  •  Sweetness
  •  Moistness
  •  Simplicity

I’m really hoping to find a winner!

Stay tuned…my first attempt is coming up next!

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