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Small 6-Inch Vanilla Cake Recipe

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Craving a cake for two people that’s simple, delicious, and perfect for any occasion? This small vanilla cake recipe delivers!  The cake is incredibly soft, moist, and bursting with vanilla flavor.  Plus, the secret to its pillowy-soft crumb is a surprisingly easy mixing method you’ll want to use for all your cakes!

Pretty slices of a small vanilla cake topped with strawberry frosting fanned out on a plate.

A LOvely Small Vanilla Cake

I love cake.  Chocolate cake, apple cake, orange cake, even strawberry shortcake!  And I have been on a quest to make a cake that is soft, tender, airy, pillowy, moist … you know the kind.  Like the sheet cakes you buy at the grocery with the super soft velvety crumb – thanks to a lot of extra ingredients you can’t pronounce.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I feel strongly about the cake and cupcake recipes on the blog and stand behind their deliciousness.  And this small vanilla cake recipe is now the one that all others to follow need to compete with!

This is as close to the grocery store cakes as I could get.  And, it tastes infinitely better.  Plus, the recipe is easy.  Even easier than your traditional cake recipe.  The reason is because we use a special way to mix the cake.  And the result is fluffy-cake-crumb glorious!

So, no more running to the store to satisfy your cake-craving (yes, I’ve done it!).  This petite vanilla cake checks all the boxes for the soft, moist, tender, and delicious cake!

HOw To Make The Best Small Batch Vanilla Cake

1. Start With The Dry INgredients

After you preheat your oven and prepare the cake pan, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar to a mixing bowl. Give a quick mix to distribute the ingredients. And yes, we add the sugar with the dry ingredients first!

A mixing bowl with flour and sugar.

2. Toss IN The Butter Cubes (trust me!)

We add the sugar and butter to the dry ingredients for this vanilla cake recipe. This method of mixing is called reverse creaming. The reason we do this is the butter coats the flour, resulting in less gluten development, resulting in a truly soft and airy cake. Mix until you have small butter pebbles and the flour looks like coarse sand.

Close up of sandy flour mixture in a mixing bowl.

3. Mix Together The remaining Liquid ingredients

In a liquid measuring cup, start with your buttermilk (see the recipe to make your own!). Then add the egg, vanilla, and oil. Give it all a good mix until smooth.

Egg, buttermilk, and oil mixed together in a liquid measuring cup.

4. Drizzle The Wet Into The Dry For The Cake Batter

With the mixer on a slower speed, drizzle the liquid ingredients into the dry. Mix until just combined. Then, I like to turn off the mixer and finish mixing the vanilla cake batter by hand until no dry streaks remain. And a few lumpy bits are ok – they will bake out!

Smooth batter in a mixing bowl with a spatula.

5. Get The Small VAnilla Cake REady To BAke!

The creamy vanilla cake batter goes into your prepared pan, then right into the oven! Bake for 30 to 33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Vanilla cake batter in a cake pan ready to bake.

6. Patiently Wait For the Cake to Cool

No cake is complete without frosting! But, we need to wait for the cake to cool before we put creamy strawberry whipped cream frosting on top. And it may seem cliché, but this small vanilla cake is truly a blank canvas, waiting to be decorated for a special occasion!

Freshly baked cake in the cake pan cooling on wire rack.

The Perfect Cake For Two

With 4 to to 6 slices (yes, we want seconds!), this 6-inch vanilla cake makes a wonderful Valentine’s Day dessert for two people!  The little treat becomes utterly adorable when adorned with pastel pink frosting and heart shaped candies.  

FAQ

Can I double the recipe to make a larger vanilla cake?

I have not tested it, but I think it should work. Bake the cake in an 8-inch cake pan and start checking at 30 minutes.

Can I make the cake gluten free?

You can try a 1:1 gluten free flour blend. Or better yet, try my gluten free 6-inch vanilla cake recipe!

How do I store the cake?

The small vanilla cake can be stored covered at room temp for up to 3 days. However, if you use a whipped cream or cream cheese frosting, I recommend keeping the cake covered in the refrigerator.

A small strawberry frosted vanilla cake on a white plate.
A small strawberry frosted vanilla cake on a white plate.
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5 from 2 reviews

Small 6-Inch Vanilla Cake Recipe

Yield: 4 Servings
Craving a cake for two people that's simple, delicious, and perfect for any occasion? This small vanilla cake recipe delivers!  The cake is incredibly soft, moist, and bursting with vanilla flavor.  Plus, the secret to its pillowy-soft crumb is a surprisingly easy mixing method you'll want to use for all your cakes!
Prep15 minutes
Cook33 minutes
Total48 minutes

Ingredients
 

Small Vanilla Cake

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cup, plus 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil, melted (or any neutral oil)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line the bottom of a 6-inch round cake pan with a piece of parchment cut to fit. Lightly grease the pan.
  • In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar to just combine. Note – If using a stand mixer, I recommend the 3-quart mixing bowl (link above) for the small batch batter. Otherwise, you can use a hand held mixer and medium mixing bowl.
    ¾ cup all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅓ cup, plus 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • Add the butter cubes to the dry ingredients. Mix on medium-high speed until the butter is broken up into small pebbles, and the mix resembles coarse sand.
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
  • In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk. Add the egg, vanilla, and oil. Mix until fully combined and smooth. Note – If you do not have buttermilk, you can make your own. Add a 1½ teaspoons vinegar to the measuring cup. Then add milk to the 1/2 cup mark. Let sit for 5 minutes until the milk looks curdled.
    ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature, 1 large egg, room temperature, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil, melted
  • Turn the mixer on low speed. Slowly drizzle the wet ingredients into the dry until mostly incorporated. Turn off the mixer and finish mixing the batter with a spatula until no dry streaks remain. Do not overmix, It is ok if there are a few lumps of dry ingredients.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 to 33 minutes, or until the middle of the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then, flip the pan over onto the wire rack to remove the cake and let it cool completely. If needed, run an offset spatula or sharp knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. The cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. If using whipped cream frosting, I recommend refrigerating the cake.
    Strawberry Whipped Cream, Strawberry Whipped Buttercream, Chocolate Fudge Frosting, Vanilla Butter Free Frosting
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RECIPE NOTES

  • Serving Size – This is a small batch recipe that should be ok to double.  Bake in an 8-inch cake pan and start checking at 30 minutes.
  • Yield – The small 6-inch cake can be cut into 4 large slices, or 6 small ones.
  • Stand Mixer – You can use your stand mixer with standard bowl.  However, because this is a small batch batter, it will mix more evenly when you use a 3-quart mixing bowlNote, the bowl works with standard attachments and only works on a tilt head mixer.
  • Reverse Creaming Method – You will notice we mix the butter and sugar with the other dry ingredients first.  This method of mixing limits gluten development and yields a fluffy and airy cake.
  • Homemade Buttermilk – If you prefer not to but a quart of buttermilk, you can make your own.  Either will make a delicious cake.
  • Oil – I have tested the cake with coconut oil and canola oil – both work great. 
  • Frosting – I have many frosting recipes to choose from to decorate the cake for any occasion!
  • Storing – The cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Beyond that, and it may start to dry out.  Note, if using a cream cheese or whipped cream frosting, I recommend storing covered in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temp to serve.
  • Freezing – The baked, unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.  Thaw in the refrigerator.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

NUTRITION ESTIMATES

Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 250mg | Potassium: 93mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 292IU | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you! Click here to learn more about me!

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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