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The Most Basic Cake Recipe Ever

Think baking a cake can't be as easy as grabbing a boxed mix? Think again!
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Let's be honest, baking a cake can get complicated. If you've ever seen the beautiful creations on The Great British Bake Off, or even cakes made for weddings, making your own cake from scratch for a simple birthday celebration can seem intimidating. What if you screw up and end up with a flat sponge cake? What if the cake tastes absolutely horrendous?

No wonder people like to grab a simple box mix to bake a cake! Because let's be honest, those box cake mixes always work incredibly well—they're practically foolproof.

Yet we couldn't help asking ourselves: could we put together a cake recipe that's just as easy as throwing together a cake from a box mix?

We took it as a challenge, and the results left us starstruck. This basic vanilla cake recipe is so easy to throw together, you may not want to buy the boxed stuff from the supermarket anymore. Save yourself a trip to the grocery store and throw together this basic cake recipe when it's time to celebrate someone's birthday.

Here is an easy step-by-step tutorial for you to follow!


For the cake

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

For the frosting

4 Tbsp butter (softened at room temperature)
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Extra toppings (optional)

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the cake, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and the 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract in a large bowl. Whisk until everything is combined and it looks creamy, do not overmix or it will get frothy.
  3. In another bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together so it is combined.
  4. Add the dry mix to the bowl of wet ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, scraping from the bottom and moving the batter to the top. Continue this motion until all of the ingredients are incorporated. This mixing motion helps the leavening of the baking powder. Think: fluffy cake!
  5. Mix until there are almost no lumps. You don't want to over mix this batter! The mixing process should take maybe a minute, two minutes tops.
  6. Grease a 9×13" deep pan with extra oil. You can easily do this by wiping some oil using a paper towel. Pour the batter into the greased pan.
  7. Bake the cake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  8. While the cake is baking, mix together the frosting. Whisk together the softened butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
  9. When the cake is finished, do a toothpick test. If a toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done! Leave it to cool completely before frosting.
  10. Sprinkle with whatever toppings you desire, like rainbow sprinkles or chocolate chips!

The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten