Do you need a go-to cake that is fluffy with a lovely vanilla flavour? Then this is the recipe for you. Coupled with a rich chocolate butter cream icing which is enhanced by a hint of coffee, this cake is a real crowd-pleaser. It is perfect for birthdays or any other celebration, but it is also great as a no-nonsense sheet cake.

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Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Butter Cream Icing Recipe

Makes a 32 cm by 20 cm sheet cake. See notes below if making a sandwich cake.
Serves: 12
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 35 minutes


For the cake:

  • 280 g plain flour
  • 32 g cornflour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.25 tsp salt
  • 355 ml whole milk
  • 5.5 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs and one large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 170 g unsalted butter
  • 350 g caster sugar

For the icing:

  • 170 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 170 g icing sugar
  • 40 ml black coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan or 200°C conventional. Grease and line a 32 cm by 20 cm baking tin with grease proof paper.
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  3. In a jug mix together the milk and lemon juice, beat in the eggs, then stir in the vanilla essence and set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and caster sugar. Use a food mixer on a high speed setting for 3 minutes.
  5. Slowly add the egg, milk, lemon juice and vanilla essence mixture gradually using the high speed of the food mixer. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
  6. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake to 35-40 minutes.
  7. In the meantime make the icing. Start by adding the vanilla essence to the coffee and set aside.
  8. Cream together the butter and cocoa butter. Use a food mixer at high speed for around 3 minutes.
  9. Add the icing sugar and vanilla-coffee solution roughly a quarter at a time whisking them into the cocoa and butter mixture until smooth and creamy.
  10. Once the cake has cooled completely spread the icing on the top.


  • Ensure you take the butter, eggs, milk and lemon out of the fridge around an hour in advance of making the cake to bring them up to room temperature. This will prevent the cake batter from curdling.
  • You can divide the cake batter between two cake tins to make a sandwich cake. In this case treble the quantity of the icing to have enough for the sandwich layer as well as the sides of the cake.
  • When making the icing I use strong decaf coffee to make it more child friendly.
  • To decorate the cake add sprinkles, sliced strawberries or grated chocolate to the top.

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