You’ll want to make this moist french vanilla cake from scratch every day. Add this fluffy cake to your best cake recipe list because it’s sure to be a favorite.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
This french vanilla cake is super moist and it’s jam packed with french vanilla flavor, then covered in rich french vanilla buttercream.
When I was just a kid, I used to make cakes like a crazy person. I mean I was always in the kitchen making cakes. (I have no idea how I wasn’t a gazillion pounds.)
Back then, I made cakes from a box. It was easier for me and frankly I was impatient and just wanted to eat my cake as soon as I could.
I was very fond of the French Vanilla cake mixes. Nine times out of ten, I’d choose that flavor to bake. So, for this recipe, I really wanted to create a scratch version of that cake.
So why ‘french’ vanilla and what’s the difference? Well I really didn’t know. All I knew was that I really liked the flavor. So I did what I do best and decided to do a little research.
I’ll spare you all the details and just go with a summary here if you’re interested. So generally, types of vanilla are named after the places where they’re grown…Madagascar vanilla, Tahitian vanilla etc., but apparently that’s not the case with French vanilla.
French vanilla is actually a way of making a custard that gives it a rich, deeper taste. So, yes, it’s a flavor, but not in the same way as the other vanilla extracts. You get that flavor because of a method that is used to make the custard.
Well okay…I’m not gonna argue with science or history, but I’m just sayin’ that I can tell the difference. It’s subtle, but I knew what I was looking for and I knew there had to be a way to get it.
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Well I actually found a french vanilla extract that is Uh-mazing! I’m serious. I’m using it in everything now. Here is a link to it and I REALLY hope you can get it. French Vanilla Extract
You can make this recipe without it, but I think it’s SO good if you can get it.
I also used french vanilla creamer and a french vanilla pudding mix and that gives it a little extra french vanilla flavor, but doesn’t make it taste fake.
We’re covering this bad boy with french vanilla buttercream. We’re not skimping on the french vanilla…nope…might as well go for the gold, right?
The mixing method for this cake is the old fashioned creaming method. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
TIPS & FAQs FOR THE FRENCH VANILLA CAKE:
- This recipe calls for french vanilla pudding mix. Use the small box and use it dry. (I have not tested this recipe without it. If you can’t get it, just omit it. In theory it should still come out fine, but since I haven’t tested that, I can’t promise it.)
- You’ll need two small boxes of the french vanilla pudding mix. You’ll only use a small amount from the second box to make the buttercream. (You can omit this from the buttercream if you don’t have a second box.)
- This recipe calls for french vanilla creamer. Use the liquid creamer you get in the dairy aisle at the grocery store. If you can’t get this, just use half and half cream.
- This recipes calls for a specific type of vanilla extract for this cake. You can find it here: French Vanilla Extract It is very good, but if you can’t get it, just use regular vanilla extract in the same amounts. It won’t have that french vanilla taste, but it will still be good.
- Make sure your butter is room temperature. (Don’t microwave it to warm it up. Just set it out and let it come to room temp on its own.)
- Try to get the eggs as close to room temp as you can. Just set them out a bit before you start baking.
Ok, let’s get to the recipe. Don’t forget, there’s a video there as well to help.
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ITEMS & TOOLS USED FOR THE FRENCH VANILLA CAKE:
- Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
- Flex Edge Beater Attachment for Stand Mixer
- 8″ Baking Pans
- French Vanilla Extract
Note About Recipe Measurements: I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are more familiar with and I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated when baking. For metric/weight measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card below. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s just a best guess. I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results, since I test recipes using volume measurements.
Moist French Vanilla Cake from Scratch
For the cake:
- 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3.4 oz small box dry instant french vanilla pudding mix
- 1 cup french vanilla coffee creamer (I get this from the refrigerated section. It's the creamer in the milk section, not the dry powdered creamer. This really pumps up the flavor and the moistness. See notes for substitution options.
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoon french vanilla extract (French vanilla extract adds a different type of vanilla flavor than regular extract, but if you don’t have it or can’t get it, you can use regular vanilla extract instead in the same amount.)
- 1 cup butter (slightly cooler than room temp)
- 1 ⅔ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
For the buttercream:
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 tablespoon dry french vanilla pudding mix
- 2 cups butter (room temperature)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 7 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon french vanilla extract (If you can’t get this, you can substitute with regular vanilla extract)
- ¼ cup french vanilla coffee creamer (If you don’t have this, you can substitute with cream or milk)
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease and flour two 8″ round cake pans and set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and small package of dry instant french vanilla pudding. Whisk well and set aside.
- In another bowl, add the french vanilla coffee creamer, milk, oil and french vanilla (or regular vanilla) extract. Whisk well and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the room temperature butter and mix on medium until smooth. Add in the sugar and mix on medium and then on medium high for several minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add in the eggs one at a time and mix on medium just until combined. Only mix until the egg is just incorporated. Try not to over mix. If your eggs are super cold, your batter may look a little curdled at this point, but just keep going.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again on medium, just until everything is incorporated.
- Alternately add in the flour mixture and the liquid mixture. Starting and ending with the flour mixture. (Add in ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add in ½ the liquid mixture, mixing only until combined. Add in another ⅓ of the flour mixture, mixing only until combined. Add in the last of the liquid mixture, mixing only until combined, then the last of the flour mixture and mix until combined.)
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again until well combined. You only want to mix until well combined, which is about 15 seconds. Mixing for several minutes is too long for a scratch cake.
- Divide batter into the prepared pans. Batter will be quite thick so just spread it around evenly in your pans.
- Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 55 – 60 minutes. The cake will be a little darker than the normal golden brown. Insert a toothpick somewhere in the middle and a few moist crumbs should stick to the toothpick.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely before adding buttercream.
For the buttercream:
- In a small bowl, add the milk and the two tablespoons of dry french vanilla pudding mix. Whisk well and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter well for a minute or two on medium/low to medium speed.
- Add in three cups of confectioner’s sugar and the salt and mix on low until incorporated and then medium until well mixed.
- Add one tablespoon of french vanilla creamer and mix on low, then medium until incorporated.
- Add the last four cups of confectioner’s sugar and mix on low until incorporated and then medium until well mixed.
- Add in the milk and pudding mixture plus the vanilla extract and mix on low until incorporated, then on medium until well mixed.
- Check the consistency. If it’s too thick, add another tablespoon of the french vanilla coffee creamer and mix again. You may need to add more cream, or milk to get the correct spreading consistency.
- Once you reach the consistency desired, beat on medium speed for a couple minutes until fluffy, then spread onto cake.
- Per a comment left on this post, try using half vanilla and half hazelnut creamer to get the French vanilla flavor. (Thanks to Dena for this suggestion.)
- You could also just replace the creamer with half & half cream, heavy cream, or whole milk.
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