Classic British Vanilla Sponge Cake: A Teatime Treat

Posted on

Vanilla cake – a timeless classic with its delicate sweetness and fluffy texture. This humble cake is a staple in British baking, perfect for afternoon tea parties, birthday celebrations, or simply a comforting treat. But achieving that perfect vanilla cake can seem daunting. Fear not, bakers of all levels! This recipe will guide you through every step, from gathering your ingredients to creating a light and airy masterpiece.


My very best Vanilla Cake - stays moist  days! - RecipeTin Eats
My very best Vanilla Cake – stays moist days! – RecipeTin Eats

175g unsalted butter, softened

  • 175g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (good quality for best flavour)
  • 225g self-raising flour (sieved)
  • 125ml milk (full-fat for extra richness)
  • Baking Essentials:

    20cm round cake tin (greased and lined with baking paper)

  • Mixing bowls (various sizes)
  • Electric whisk or hand mixer (optional)
  • Sieve
  • Cooling rack
  • How to Bake the Perfect Vanilla Cake:

    1. Preheat the Oven: Get your oven nice and hot! Preheat it to 180°C (fan 160°C, gas mark 4) to ensure even baking. While it’s heating, grease and line your cake tin. Parchment paper is your friend here – it makes life so much easier when it comes to removing the cake later.

    2. Cream the Butter and Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. This step incorporates air into the mixture, which is what gives your cake its lovely rise. An electric whisk or hand mixer makes this step a breeze, but a good old-fashioned wooden spoon and some elbow grease work just fine too!

    3. Beat in the Eggs: One by one, crack in the eggs and beat them well into the butter and sugar mixture after each addition. Make sure everything is fully combined before adding the next egg.

    4. Vanilla Magic: Now comes the flavour explosion! Add the vanilla extract and give it a good stir. High-quality vanilla extract makes a world of difference in the final taste, so don’t skimp here.

    5. Dry Ingredients Party: In a separate bowl, whisk together your sieved self-raising flour. Sieving removes any lumps and helps to aerate the flour, which again contributes to a light and airy cake. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, alternating with splashes of milk. Fold everything together gently with a spatula until just combined. Overmixing can lead to a tough cake, so be careful not to overdo it.

    6. Bake Away! Pour the batter evenly into your prepared cake tin. Pop it into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

    7. Golden Perfection: Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the tin for a few minutes before carefully transferring it to a wire cooling rack. This allows air to circulate around the cake and prevents it from becoming soggy on the bottom.

    8. Frosting Fun! While your cake cools, unleash your creativity! Whip up your favourite frosting or buttercream to decorate your masterpiece. Simple vanilla frosting is a classic choice, but the possibilities are endless.

    Nutrition Information (per slice):

    Please note that these are approximate values and can vary depending on the specific ingredients you use.

    Calories: 250

  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 7g
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Sugar: 25g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Conclusion:

    With this simple recipe, you can create a delicious and impressive vanilla cake that everyone will love. The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity, allowing you to customise it to your own taste. Feeling adventurous? Add a handful of fresh raspberries or blueberries to the batter for a fruity twist. Craving something a little richer? Drizzle some chocolate ganache over the top. The possibilities are endless! So grab your baking essentials, preheat your oven, and get ready to whip up a slice of pure vanilla heaven.


    1. Can I use a different type of sugar? Yes, caster sugar is recommended for its fine texture, but granulated sugar can be used in a pinch. However, the texture of your cake might be slightly different.