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Vanilla Sheet Cake

Squares of vanilla sheet cake with Swiss buttercream frosting and sprinkles on white plates with a coupe of Champagne in the background.
This vanilla sheet cake is an easy-to-make one-pan cake that's topped with Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Perfect for birthdays or any special occasion.
Edd Kimber

Prep 30 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 2 hrs
Dessert
American
12 servings
617 kcal

Ingredients 

For the vanilla sheet cake

  • Butter for the pan
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups superfine sugar (or blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk preferably full-fat
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Swiss meringue buttercream frosting
  • Sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Directions 

Make the vanilla sheet cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter a 9-by 13-inch (23-by 33-cm) baking pan and line with a piece of parchment paper that hangs a little over the 2 long sides.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  • Make a well in the middle, add the eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla, and then whisk until the batter is smooth and combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the boiling water and whisk briefly to combine. The batter will be thin, but don’t worry, that’s what we want.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

    TESTER TIP: Check the cake periodically and if it seems to be browning a little too much, tent with foil for the last 10 or so minutes of baking

  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes before using the parchment paper handles to lift it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Spread the buttercream over the cooled cake and top with sprinkles, if using. Cut into portions and serve. Store, covered, for up to 3 days.

Notes

*What can I do with that used vanilla pod?

Don’t discard the used pod. There’s a ton of flavor left inside. You can use it to roast fruits, to make vanilla sugar, to make your own vanilla syrup or to make your own vanilla extract with vodka or bourbon or rum…oh my!