By Kathryn McLean

Do you need a delicious vanilla cake? March Break is this month, and my family often has some sort of cake to celebrate the start of it. I like to use this vanilla cake recipe from a cookbook titled Kitchen Sense by Michell Davis. The recipe makes a light, fluffy cake that tastes like a childhood birthday cake.

If you’re not marking March Break, consider this cake for Easter, which falls at the end of March this year. Or for no occasion at all.

You can bake this batter in two eight-inch round pans, or a 9×12” rectangle. Either way, be sure to generously butter the pans before adding the batter. For the fluffiest, lightest cake, use soft, room temperature butter.

This recipe works best if you mix the batter with an electric mixer or hand-held beaters. If you have neither, a food processor will work, too.

To make the cake batter by hand without electric tools, beat the butter with a wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula until it is very pale and airy. It will likely take five minutes of beating by hand.

Be sure to preheat your oven to bake the cake(s). Turning on the oven should be your first step. That way the oven will be hot enough to bake in once you’ve finished mixing the batter and filling your pan(s).

Once the cake batter is completely mixed, immediately pour it into the buttered pan(s), and place them in the hot oven. If you leave the prepared batter waiting outside of the oven for more than a few minutes, it will start to settle and then it will bake into a dense cake.

Be sure to wait until the baked cake (or cake layers) are completely cooled to room temperature before topping them with icing or whipped cream, or even a dusting of icing sugar. Still-warm cakes will melt the icing/cream/sugar.

Lastly, the recipe calls for both all purpose flour and cornstarch; the cornstarch helps with the light texture of the cake. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can substitute with additional flour, increasing that amount to 2 cups.

I hope you find a reason to bake this cake, and enjoy it this month!

Vanilla Cake

– adapted from a recipe by Mitchell Davis


⅔ cup room temperature butter
1½ cups white sugar
2 large eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1¾ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
⅔ cup milk (traditional dairy works best here)


Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butter two 8” cake pans, or one 9×12” baking pan.

Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, at least 2 minutes. Add the eggs, and beat again until fully incorporated.

Add the vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix to incorporate everything. Add the milk, baking powder and salt, stirring just to loosen the batter

Add the flour and cornstarch and mix until all the flour is incorporated; do not keep mixing after the flour is absorbed and the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into your prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes; check that the centre is cooked though by poking into the cake with a wooden skewer (or similar) and checking that the skewer comes out clean, with only crumbs and not damp batter clinging to it

Leave the cake(s) to cool in their pans on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before turning them out onto the rack. Remember to allow them to cool completely if you plan to add icing.