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Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Individual servings of vanilla buttermilk cake with white frosting on pink plates.
I think you're going to love this easy, one bowl cake that can be baked in an 8x8 or 9-inch round pan!
Yossy Arefi

Prep 15 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 1 hr
9 servings
256 kcal


For the vanilla buttermilk cake

  • Nonstick baking spray
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk* well shaken
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter melted
  • 1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Swiss meringue buttercream frosting
  • Store-bought or homemade sprinkles (optional)


  • Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF (177°C). Butter or coat an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with a strip of parchment paper that hangs over two of the edges.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and egg until pale and thick, about 1 minute. Add the buttermilk, butter, oil, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until smooth and emulsified.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and whisk until well-combined and smooth.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles, and smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula.
  • Bake the cake until puffed and golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Then use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and set it on the rack to cool completely.
  • Top the cooled cake with swoops and swirls of Swiss meringue buttercream frosting and sprinkles, if desired. Store the cake, loosely covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


*What does buttermilk do to cake?

Buttermilk is acidic enough that it will tenderize the gluten in your flour, creating baked goods that are light and fluffy. When combined with baking soda, the acid in buttermilk helps with leavening—creating a higher rise. When recipes include a lot of acid, like lemon juice or buttermilk, it needs the addition of baking powder or soda for the chemical reaction, creating a lighter crumb. It's science—delicious science.