This moist vanilla buttermilk cake is a favorite. It’s easy and bakes in a 13×9 inch pan, then it’s topped with a yummy glaze that soaks in making the cake super moist and tasty. This cake is one of the best cakes I’ve ever had and it’s sure to be a family 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!
Confession…I ate A LOT of this cake. I mean I gave some away as well, but I personally ate way too much. This isn’t an exaggeration either. I LOVE this cake and it’s one of my absolute favorites.
Let’s Talk About Some of the Ingredients in this Cake:
All purpose flour: You’ll just use regular all purpose flour here, so no having to go out and find cake flour.
Buttermilk: Of course a buttermilk cake is going to have buttermilk in it. First, if you don’t like buttermilk, don’t panic. I don’t like buttermilk either and you will never catch me drinking it, but when it’s an ingredient in a cake, it will NOT come out tasting like buttermilk.
What buttermilk does in a cake is it gives it moisture and a really amazing taste, but nothing like if you were to drink it straight from the glass. So if you’re hesitant about trying it in a cake, don’t be. It’s seriously good.
The glaze also uses buttermilk, but don’t be scared away by that either. I promise, it does not taste like buttermilk. Also make sure to read the Tips and FAQ section in this post to answer questions about substituting it if you have to.
Vanilla Extract: Ideally I’d like to use vanilla bean paste (which you can still do if you want), but lately vanilla is super expensive, so vanilla extract does the job and it’ll still taste amazing.
Unsalted butter: This will be used for both the cake and the glaze. Read the Tips and FAQ section in this post to answer questions about substituting it.
Sugar: This recipe calls for regular granulated sugar for the cake and brown sugar for the glaze…(because brown sugar makes everything better, right?).
Mixing Method for this Cake:
For this cake, you’ll use the reverse creaming method. Don’t worry, it’s easy and I go through all the steps in the recipe card below.
The reverse creaming method just means you’ll mix up all the dry ingredients in one bowl, the liquid in another bowl, then you cut in the room temperature butter into the dry mixture and mix until it’s crumbly.
Then you’ll add in the liquid in two parts and mix. I actually find that the reverse creaming method is easier to do than the regular creaming method where you alternate adding in the ingredients…that’s kind of a pain sometimes.
Just remember that there is a video in the recipe card below that will show the mixing method as well.
Now, the easy thing about this cake is that it’s baked in a 13×9 inch glass pan, so there’s not worrying about having to remove the cakes from layer pans or anything like that. And you don’t have to get fancy with icing either.
The glaze is cooked on the stove (it’s really easy though) and then it’s poured over the warm cake (that you’ve poked holes in) and allowed to soak in. Don’t skip that part as that’s what really sets this cake apart.
Tips and FAQs for the Vanilla Buttermilk Cake:
This recipe calls for unsalted butter, which I find best for baking. You don’t really want to substitute it with margarine as that isn’t the same as butter and you may get an unintended result.
If you only have access to salted butter, you can use that, but omit the salt that the recipe calls for.
Yes, the butter for the cake batter, needs to be almost room temperature. Don’t microwave it as that over-heats it and can heat it unevenly.
Just cut the butter up and let it sit out on a plate to warm up a bit (for reference…that’s usually about an hour or a bit longer in about a 73 degree room).
As for the eggs, you can set them out when you start the mixing process and they should be just fine if they’re a little cold.
Don’t substitute them out as they are different. (For more info. on that, see this post: Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder)
Either is fine to use as they are generally interchangeable. I used light brown sugar though.
Mixing this way, will give you a tender cake.
It’s scientific, but essentially, if the cake batter is a little acidic, then it will help to make the cake more moist and tender because it will break down the longer strands of gluten that can be tough.
Well you’re in luck because you don’t really taste the buttermilk in cakes. I actually don’t like the taste or the texture of buttermilk, but it’s great to use for baking cakes. It makes them moist and just brings out all the other flavors.
If you have access to buttermilk, use that as that’s what will taste best in this recipe.
If you absolutely cannot get buttermilk, then you can substitute it by adding one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a measuring cup, then pour in regular milk until it measures one cup. Let it sit for five minutes before adding to the batter. For this recipe, you’ll need one and a half cups, so make the substitution above once and then make half that amount.
Now, just understand that you won’t end up with the same exact cake if you use this substitute, so if you’re really just wanting a good vanilla cake that doesn’t use buttermilk, then you can find my recipe for that here: Favorite Vanilla Bean Cake
Yes, it’s great if you can get full fat buttermilk, but lately it’s been hard to find. I used the reduced fat buttermilk and it turned out great.
Yes and no. The cake batter will bake up the same whether baked in a 13×9 inch pan or two, 8″ round cake pans. However you may not want to use the glaze if you’re making this into a layer cake because it will make the cake layers very very soft and may not lift out of your cake pans properly.
If you do decide to make this as a layer cake not use the glaze, you may want to check out my recipe for vanilla buttercream here: Vanilla Bean Buttercream
You also want to make sure that you’ve poked holes in the warm cake with a skewer to help the glaze soak into the cake.
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Supplies Used for this Cake:
- KitchenAid Artisan mixer or handheld mixer
- Flat Beater Attachment if using a stand mixer
- Stainless steel measuring set
- Glass batter bowl
- Whisk set
- Glass 13×9 inch pan
- Rubber spatulas here or here
- Cooling racks
- Liquid measuring cups
- Wooden skewers (You can sometimes find these in smaller quantities at the dollar store or at your local Walmart or grocery store.)
Ok, let’s get to the recipe!
***I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are used to seeing and using. For weight in metric measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s a best guess. Please note that because I develop recipes using ‘cups’ I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results.
Moist Vanilla Buttermilk Cake
For the cake:
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk (full fat is best, but low fat will work as well)
- 3 large whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) (room temperature – do not microwave)
For the glaze:
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar (dark or light brown sugar, I used light)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray or grease a 13×9 inch glass pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk well and set aside. In another bowl, add the buttermilk, whole eggs, egg yolk, vanilla extract and vegetable oil. Whisk well and set aside.
- Cut the room temperature butter up into pieces (if not already done). Turn the mixer on and add in the butter pieces slowly while you mix on medium speed. (You can use a hand mixer as well.) Once all the butter is added, mix until the flour mixture becomes crumbly and resembles sand.
- Add in half the liquid mixture and mix on medium speed, just until incorporated. Add in the last half of the liquid mixture and mix only until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again just until all the ingredients are mixed well. Only mix for about 10 seconds or so. Mixing for a minute or more is too long and can cause a dense or tough cake.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.
- Cake is done when it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake, comes out with a few moist crumbs. (You do not have to wait until the toothpick comes out clean as that can over-bake your cake. Just make sure there is no raw batter on the toothpick and a few moist crumbs are fine.)
- Once the cake is baked, set on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes, then poke holes into the cake with a skewer and cover with the warm glaze. Let the cake sit for about 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
For the glaze:
- Once the cake is out of the oven, make the glaze. (You want the cake to still be warm when you pour the glaze on it, so don’t let the cake cool completely.)
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over low/medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, turn off the heat and immediately add in the brown sugar, vanilla and buttermilk. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add in the confectioner's sugar and stir well. If it's clumpy, just keep stirring until most of the clumps are dissolved. The rest will dissolve as it sits for a bit.
- Set the glaze aside (not in the fridge) until the cake has cooled for about 15 minutes, then poke holes in your still warm cake with skewers, then pour the warm glaze over the warm cake and let it soak in. If the glaze has cooled off a bit, you can turn the burner back on just enough to warm it back up before pouring over your cake.
- When you pour the glaze over the warm cake, the glaze should still be warm, but not hot.
- Let set up for about 30 minutes before cutting and serving. This will give the glaze enough time to soak into the cake well.
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I never comment on recipes but just made it, and it’s amazing! Cake is so moist and fluffy. I halved the recipe (used 2 whole eggs) and it was great. I browned the butter a little for deeper flavor, saving this recipe! Would love to see other versions- pumpkin, chocolate, etc 🙂
Yay!!! I’m so glad you loved it! I do have a chocolate version. I’ll add the link to that below and I do plan to make more variations! Thanks for your wonderful review. 🙂 Here’s the link to the chocolate recipe: https://iscreamforbuttercream.com/chocolate-buttermilk-cake/
Hi! I made this on New Year’s Day! It’s only January 3rd but it’s nearly all gone. It’s a tad too sweet for me but Hubby loves it! I will make it again but will probably halve the icing. It’s so beautifully moist that all my guests think I’m a secret master baker !!
Yay! So glad it was a hit!
Hi Kara. I just made this cake tonight, finally! It is amazing. The icing is a bit sweet for me but that’s just the way that I’ve always been with sweets. However, I was looking for a cake that would satisfy this craving I had. It had to be one of the best and tastes awesome bc I’m not usually a desert person. I really do love this cake and I can see how anyone would eat a lot of it. Also, my kiddos loved it, and that means a lot to me. I followed your recipe very thorough. Easy to make and it is moist and fluffy(what a wonderful combo). I will say that it is just a tad bit dense in the middle for me, but I just think either the cake needed a few minutes more or my glass cake pan is just larger than yours. I still love this cake. Thank you for the recipe!
Hi Tina, so glad you liked this one and thanks for the wonderful review! If it was just a little doughy or dense in the middle part, then yes I think you’re spot on with just needing to bake it perhaps a bit longer.
Jasmine latrice JAMERSON
Hello I’m not a super sweet icing person how is it with halfing the icing instructions
Hi Jasmine, yes you can go with just making half the glaze. I’ve had people do that before and they said it still turned out great.
This was wonderful! Made it into a heart shape (using a square and round pan) and topped with buttercream frosting. The cake has great flavor, is moist as promised and just the perfect density. I’ve tried so many vanilla cake recipes but this one is hands down the best in my opinion. Thank you!
Wonderful! Thanks for the great review and I’m so glad you loved it. 🙂
Can I freeze this cake?
It would be fine to freeze if the glaze hasn’t yet been added yet. Once you defrost it, you can add the glaze. I haven’t tested out freezing after the glaze has already been added though, so I’m just not sure if it would change the texture or get too soggy if frozen after the glaze has been added.
Made this cake this morning, and just added cinnamon to the top of the cake before I baked it, and changed vanilla extract for the frosting to almond and it was soooo delish. This is hands down the best cake I have made, and the moistest.
Yay! So glad you liked it! And what a great idea to add the cinnamon and almond…I definitely need to try that variation.
Delicious cake!! I used less sugar for the batter (300g instead of 400g) and less confectioners sugar for glaze (~150g), and it was still super sweet but the taste is great! Next time I will use even less sugar, until I find perfect amount that works for me 😁 I also baked in a larger tin (~10×14) so 30min was enough!
Hi there! So glad you liked the cake and thanks for the great review! I have just one tip though…be careful about lowering the amount of sugar in the cake by too much as the sugar doesn’t just make the cake sweet, but it also helps give the cake a proper texture and it actually provides moisture. If the sugar is lowered too much, the cake may turn out a little more dense and dry.
I finally made this cake for Easter after having the recipe for quite awhile. It was really good and everyone loved it. It was my first time trying the reverse creaming method which was really quite easy. I will definitely make this cake again.
Wonderful, Nancy! So glad you liked it. 🙂
This cake was delicious! Super moist and light. I added some vanilla bean paste to my batter. The glaze was fantastic as well. I love these kinds of icings. I decided to brown my butter first before making the icing and it made it even better! Brown butter makes everything delicious.
I’m so glad you liked this one! It’s one of my favorites. Oh and the browned butter sounds amazing…good idea! 🙂
I’ve tried A LOT of Pinterest recipes and
never written a review…but there was no way I couldn’t not write one for this cake! I made this for my family and holy cow…we can’t stop eating it. I’m between feeling like everyone on the planet’s tastebuds should experience this & also feeling like I should never make it again unless I’m prepared to eat an ungodly amount of cake. My tastebuds thank you, my thighs do not😂
Oh, I love this comment! Thanks so much for the fantastic review! 💖 I have to say, this cake is one of my favorites and I too eat an ungodly amount when I make it. 🤣
OMG! I made this cake for Easter and everyone loved it. My granddaughter said it tasted like buttered pancakes. LoL. I didn’t notice that but hey she loved it so to each his/her own. I get your emails and love your recipes.
I’m so glad you loved it! This is one of my favorite cakes too. 🙂 And I can kind of see your granddaughter’s point. It’s moist and buttery, so I can see why she thought that. 🙂 Thanks for the compliments on the recipes here!
LoL. After I posted my comment about my granddaughter and the cake tasting like pancakes, I noticed I had already commented previously but completely forgot. I’ll chalk that up to a “senior moment “. I have a lot of those lately. LoL. In my defense, she just told me about the pancakes last week. LoL
Can I freeze this cake? I made it tonight and would like to save the cake for a forth of July party. It’s delicious!
It would be fine to freeze if the glaze hasn’t yet been added…then once you defrost it, you can add the glaze. I haven’t tested out freezing after the glaze has already been added though, so I’m just not sure if it would change the texture or get too soggy.
Wondering if you know what I did wrong the last time I made this cake and another one from you that utilizes the reverse creaming method. When I took the cake out of the oven, the sides had folded over the top of cake and cooked like that. Any ideas please. I’m going to make it again tomorrow. Thank you!
Hi Nancy, hmmmm that’s really interesting. I’m really not sure what could have happened. I haven’t had that experience, but I’ll throw some things out and see if maybe we can figure it out. One question is what size eggs have you been using? I’ve seen some use eggs that were extra-large eggs instead of just large eggs and that made the batter puff up quite a bit more than it normally would. Not sure if that would cause it to fold over though. I also wonder if maybe the batter is getting mixed longer than it needs to be and that’s making it puff up more. I do have a video on how long to actually mix cake batter…it’s much less than most people think. Anyway, this may not be what happened, but if you want to check that out, here’s a link to that video…it’s in real-time, so you can see exactly how long to mix cakes in both the reverse creaming and regular creaming method. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM6EmApf6Hs
The only other thing I can think of is the size of pans that are used. If they’re thinner, maybe that could cause this? Let me know if you make adjustments and try it again. I’m curious how it turns out.
Can you used the powder buttermilk mix if mixed up as directed and added.
Shirley, I’m not sure. I’ve never really tried the powdered buttermilk mix.
This cake is excellent. I make one almost every week in the summer, dress it up with some macerated berries and whipped cream.
Hi Carrie…so glad you love this one! I will definitely have to try it with berries and whipped cream. That sounds so good!
I made this cake today and it came out perfect! The only thing I forgot to do was omit the salt since I only had salted butter. But the cake still came out amazing and didn’t taste salty.☺️
Oh that’s awesome! So glad you liked it and that’s good to know it didn’t turn out too salty. 🙂
Great recipe, however please share the name of the musical group accompaning the pictures. They are toe tapping wonderful!!
Made this yesterday. It is my new favorite hands down! And fairly simple, I am no expert and it came out just right
That’s awesome Esther…I’m so glad you loved it. Also really glad you found it simple. Thanks for the 5 stars you also left! 🙂