Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake: simple pleasure

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Welcome to King Arthur Flour’s Year of the Bundt! We’re celebrating this classic American dessert with a variety of recipes throughout the year. This month, we’re kicking off summer with a cake that’s tasty enough to stand on its own, but is also the perfect complement for fresh berries of all kinds: Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake.

Anyone can love chocolate. But to have a die-for, fall-down-in-a-swoon relationship with vanilla, you have to possess serious taste-bud cred.

I mean, chocolate is in your face right from the start. Picture a dark chocolate cake, its rich crumb tinged with the slightest hint of deep crimson — ah, devil’s food… The lavish layer of satiny chocolate frosting on top and sides completes a very compelling picture.

Now picture a vanilla cake.

Um…

That’s right. For many, vanilla is simply the absence of chocolate — or any other flavor. Far too few people appreciate the subtle flavor and aroma of vanilla: absolutely ubiquitous in every baker’s kitchen, yet seldom celebrated.

We aim to change all of that with this, the newest selection in our ongoing Year of the Bundt celebration. Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake is your grandma’s Sunday pound cake, your traditional birthday cake, and perhaps even an element of your favorite boxed cake mix — all rolled into one tasty Bundt.

Quintessentially vanilla, it’s a nostalgic favorite. Just as the sight of a vintage Cadillac roadster purring down the street makes you smile, so will this elegant (yet SO approachable) cake.

Join the celebration: Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake marks another milestone in the #yearofthebundt. Click To Tweet

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake, step by step

Are you ready to make this cake? Let’s take it step by step.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

First things first. Having your eggs and butter at room temperature will make it easier to create a smooth, lump-free batter. It’s best to take both out of the fridge several hours before you start baking.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

If you’ve forgotten to do that, though, you can easily warm cold eggs by placing them in a bowl of hot tap water for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Gather these ingredients:

24 tablespoons (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
3/4 cup milk

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflourBeat (“cream”) the butter and sugar

Place the butter in a bowl, and beat until it’s softened and coats the sides of the bowl. Scrape the butter back to the center of the bowl.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

Beat in the sugar gradually. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once all the sugar is added; beat again briefly, to incorporate any sticky residue. This technique is called “creaming;” for more information on the best way to do it, check out our creaming butter and sugar blog post.

Add the baking powder and salt, mixing just to combine.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflourAdd the eggs

With the mixer running at medium speed, add the first three eggs to the butter/sugar mixture one at a time. Wait until each egg is absorbed into the mixture before adding the next.

Weigh out the flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a measuring cup, sweeping off any excess with the back of a table knife.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

Add 2 tablespoons of the measured flour to the bowl after the third egg, and mix until combined. Add the fourth egg, mix until absorbed, then mix in another 2 tablespoons of flour. Continue in this fashion with the fifth and sixth eggs, alternating the addition of the egg with 2 tablespoons of the flour from the recipe.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

Stir the vanilla (or vanilla bean paste) and almond extract into the milk.

Add the flour alternately with the milk

Add one-third of the remaining flour to the batter, beating gently to combine. Gently beat in half the milk; then another third of the flour; then the remaining milk. Beat in the final third of flour. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat again, to incorporate any residue.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

The batter should be thick and smooth, with perhaps a few small lumps.

Prepare a Bundt pan

Thoroughly grease a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan, using non-stick vegetable oil spray or shortening (not butter; butter tends to increase sticking). Since baking a perfectly intact Bundt cake can be tricky, we highly recommend you read our blog post, How to prevent Bundt cakes from sticking, before preparing your pan.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflourFill the pan

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan … 

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour  … and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake the cake

Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, until it’s starting to brown, appears set on top, and a toothpick or long skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. If the cake appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with foil for the final 15 minutes of baking.

Remove the cake from the oven, and gently loosen its edges using a heatproof spatula. Turn the pan over onto a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, lift the pan off the cake, and allow it to cool completely.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

Garnish and serve

Just before serving, sift a shower of confectioners’ sugar over the top, if desired. Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

The cake is delicious all on its own, though a garnish of fresh berries wouldn’t be amiss.

Baking gluten-free?

Want to make this cake gluten-free? Our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour makes it easy to make many of your favorite traditional recipes (like this one) gluten-free. Simply substitute Measure for Measure flour 1:1 for the flour in this recipe; no additional ingredients or other changes are necessary.

High-altitude adjustments

If you’re up in the mountains, you may want to adjust this recipe for optimal results. See our high-altitude baking tips.

Reduce the sugar

Looking to bake a reduced-sugar cake? Try lowering the sugar in this recipe by 1/4 cup (to a total of 1 1/4 cups). The taste will be less sweet, of course; but the reduced presence of sugar also allows the flavor of the butter to shine through. We recommend making this cake lower-sugar if you plan on frosting or glazing it.

Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake via @kingarthurflour

Speaking of glaze —

Add another layer of flavor with a clear vanilla glaze. About 10 minutes before the cake is done, stir together 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 5 teaspoons water, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Heat briefly, just to dissolve the sugar; a microwave works fine. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Once you’ve turned the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool, gently brush it all over with the glaze.

Looking for additional Bundt cake tips, techniques, and recipes? See our Complete Guide: Bundt Cakes. And find links to additional specially selected Bundt recipes and blog posts on our Year of the Bundt page.

Thanks to fellow employee-owner Julia Reed for taking most of the photos for this post.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Lee

    Thanks for another great blog PJ, I can’t wait to try this recipe soon. I have to chime in and agree with ATL Ann. I have also found it very difficult to use the toothpick test – it sounds easy but it is never clear to me when I should pull the baked goods, and often results in over- or under-baked goods. I understand it may not be as universal as the 190 degrees for breads, but I’m sure we’re not the only ones who would love to see that info added as part of your recipes going forward. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Georgianna N. Collick

      I am also chiming in. I am finding it more and more difficult to determine when my cake is done. It appears OK, I insert a long pick in several areas around the cake, it will come out clean, no sticky residue, the time in the oven has usually been post-60 – 70 minutes and I will take it out of the oven as all systems appear in order .. it is done.. Sometimes the cake will sit for approximately 5 minutes then being to collapse or once I turn the cake onto a cooling rack it looks beautiful. However, once cooled the bottom of the cake, which is the top (before it was inverted) is sticky and soft. I calibrated the oven and all is well. Please, what is happening here and thank you

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Georgianna, it’s possible that your cake batter is over-mixed, or specifically that the butter and sugar mixture is over-creamed. This can incorporate excess air into the mix, which makes the structure of the cake delicate and cause it eventually to sink. (Check out this video on our website to review the proper butter creaming process.) Other reasons why the top of cakes can turn sticky even when the cake is baked fully increase too much steam in the oven; try opening and closing the door a few times to release steam near the end of the baking time. Be sure you’re using a quality flour (or Cake Flour) that has a high enough protein content. (Try using King Arthur if you’re not already doing so, which has a higher protein content than most other brands.) Lastly, be sure the cake cools properly. If the heat/moisture condenses on the surface, it can make the top sticky. We hope this helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  2. ATL Ann

    So y’all often give a temperature that a loaf of bread should reach to be done. Is there a standard temperature for cakes? I trust my thermometer more than a toothpick. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, but because cake recipes vary so much by formula, it’s hard to give a magic temperature that will ensure the right amount of doneness. We recommend using sight, touch, and smell to help guide the baking time in each of these cases. Inserting a toothpick into the center is also a great approach to use, although we agree it can feel a little “old-school.” A general temperature zone is 210°F, but as we mentioned we say this with a bit of hesitancy. We just might have to do some further investigating before giving definitive temperatures! Kye@KAF

  3. Martha Culliton

    This is an excellent cake. I reduced the sugar, as suggested in the notes, and painted the warm cake with the vanilla glaze. However, when I heated the water-sugar mixture for the glaze I add half a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and the pod added. I let that steep and cool before adding the vanilla extract. Don’t skimp on the salt–it intensifies the vanilla flavor.

    Reply
  4. Carol Fitzgerald

    I have a friend who made a blanket statement to me: “I don’t like pound cake. It’s dry.” I love pound cake and I am looking for an exceptionally moist one. Is this going to be my recipe?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Carol, if you bake the recipe just until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (don’t overbake!) and apply the clear vanilla glaze that’s described in the Baker’s Tips, we think your friend will go head over heels for this cake. You can also serve slices of this cake with fresh berries or a fresh berry compote for extra moistness and flavor. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  5. Kay

    PJ,

    I have a Bundt Quartet pan that I’d like to use but I’m not sure how to deal with the smaller cakes. Do you have suggestions for how to adjust the baking time/temperature?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We do indeed, Kay. This pan will hold the full recipe between all four wells and should bake for less time, roughly 30-35 minutes at 350°. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  6. Emma

    Ahh vanilla I love it, I love anything vanilla. And, we are lucky in Paris to have Chef Olivier Rollinger spice shop who sells a large choice of vanilla pods from various places.
    And believe me the smell and aromas are quite distinctive. It is worth the price for Chiboust cream pastries, perfumed chantilly, creams, etc.

    I know what to bake this week-end !

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Emma, SO envious! A shop focusing on vanilla? What a wonderful resource… Enjoy the cake! PJH

  7. Regina

    I see that a hand mixer was used for this. Could this be made in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment instead?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Regina, sure — but use the flat beater rather than the whisk, it’ll be more effective. Enjoy — PJH

  8. Mary Fryer

    How does a home baker get the very light golden color on the exterior of the cake as shown in the photo just above? It looks like it has no crust at all which would be nice with the light glaze. Vanilla pound cakes and citrus sponge cakes are my absolute favorite of all cakes….forget the chocolate!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mary, it’s worth experimenting with the way you prepare your Bundt pan, as that can have an impact on how light or dark the cake turns out. Try using melted shortening brushed into all the nooks and crannies of your pan, as shown here. It’s also worth taking a minute to read this article on our blog about how baking with light or dark metal colored pans can change the final color of your cake. We hope these tips help you make the perfectly golden cake you’re looking for! Kye@KAF

  9. Regina

    Do you think I could put lemon curd in the middle of this with the M4M flour, to have a nice lemon filling?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re certainly welcome to give it a try, Regina. Sometimes curd fillings get absorbed into the cake rather than remaining a distinct layer–you could try whipping some sweetened cream cheese and folding in lemon curd if you’d like it to stay separate. If this doesn’t work out as you hoped, you can always fill the center of your Bundt cake with lemon curd and top with berries. This way each slice gets adorned with a bit of lemon-y goodness! Kye@KAF

  10. Regina

    Looks delicious PJ. I will definitely make this with Measure for Measure flour, this weekend Yum!

    Reply

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