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Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Birthday Cake and Frosting


  • Cake Batter
  • 1cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2cups sugar
  • 4large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1⁄2cups self rising flour
  • 1 1⁄4cups all-purpose flour
  • 1cup milk
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  • Buttercream Frosting
  • 1cup unsalted butter, very soft
  • 8cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1⁄2cup milk
  • 2teaspoons vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease and lightly flour three 9 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
  • In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
  • Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition.
  • Divide batter among the cake pans.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  • Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
  • If you’re making cupcakes, line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  • Spoon the batter into the cups about three-quarters full.
  • Bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 20 to 22 minutes.
  • Remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on a rack before icing.
  • When cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake.
  • To make the icing – place the butter in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.
  • Beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (you may very well not need all of the sugar).
  • If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.
  • Use and store icing at room temperature, as icing will set if chilled.
  • Can store in an airtight container for up to three days.


  • rcragun

    The cupcakes were slightly better than the cake, but neither were particularly good. The cake was not fluffy but very flat and compact. And the frosting was okay in flavor, but not the best icing I’ve ever had. I won’t make this again.

  • JoBean

    This turned our horribly. The cake was very dense and the icing was way too sweet. I’ve made buttercream frosting before and this recipe just didn’t work.

  • Meal Murderess

    This wasn’t really what I was expecting considering all the great reviews. While the texture was ok, the taste was way too sweet yet also almost tasteless. It was like the sugar was added AFTER it had baked. Don’t know how else to explain it. And the icing is way, way, way too sweet. After 4 cups I knew it would be a disaster but I had to keep adding more to get the right consistency. Then it was so yellow from the butter. One of the pictures shows white icing, but mine was very yellow. But that was ok as I was going to add green food coloring in. My 5 year (for whom the cake was made) announced it yummy, then told me that I could throw it away. I gave it a couple of stars because 1) the cake itself is easy to make a and 2) it’s edible if not great. So in a pinch, I could see myself making the cake again, but definitely not the frosting.

  • Epi Curious

    Outstanding! Made for my twin daughter’s birthday cake and made a 2nd batch for take-away cupcake favors for their party. YUM. Didn’t use this frosting; used the Sprinkles frosting also on this site, which was excellent. The cake has an almost pound cake type density and flavor and is very, very good!!! Going in my favorites folder!

  • mistyheitman

    It was a very good cake. It did have a slight dense, cornbread texture. My hubby really liked that. I added a little more milk(like 1/4 cup) and I doubled the vanilla(could have stood to have more). I really liked it, but I (because of cake mixes) am used to a more airy, light texture. I think I might stick with this one and try sifting or a food processer with the sugar and flour.

  • mandycakes77

    I have used this recipe several times now and the first time I used it was for jumbo cupcakes. The cupcakes were AWESOME, but when I use it for sheet cakes, it has not ever turned out as moist and fluffy as the cupcakes. The sheet cake is more dense. Still a great flavor, but I will stick with using this recipe only for cupcakes.

  • jennibauer

    I agree that this cake was dry. Not at all what I expected since the bakery is so fantastic. Not sure why they would want to put their name on this. I drawned it in frosting and it was okay then. Will not make again.

  • mandy62307

    I like this recipe a lot. A little improv can really make it great. It really has that bakery cake flavor. This would probably be great almond flavored too. I got mine to turn out with a very soft texture by replacing the regular milk with buttermilk (which I made myself by measuring out a cup of milk & subtracting a Tbsp, then replacing that tablespoon of milk with some lemon juice & let it sit for 5-10 mins). The acid in buttermilk breaks down the gluten in flour, which results in a softer cake. Also, I put my regular granulated sugar in the food processor (I have a ninja chopper) and ground it down to make supefine sugar instead. This makes the sugar easier to absorb, and also cuts down on mixing time. Doing this really turned out a flavorful and moist cake. I only gave this 4 stars because, like others have said, the cooking time is wayyy off. my cupcakes actually burned on the bottom, but they still were awesome on the inside. just watch it more than relying on the cooking time & do a doneness test frequently. I don’t know how the frosting is, because I used my own recipe.

  • jpa

    I will never buy box cake mix again! Super easy and delicious. Next time I will probably add another teaspoon of vanilla for a little extra flavor (and take out a teaspoon of milk so the consistency is right). My cupcakes didn’t get a “crown” on them, which if I was making a layer cake to decorate I would definitely prefer, but for cupcakes I will add a little baking powder next time also. Great recipe!

  • pay80_2085771

    i love to bake, inface I am addicted to baking and am always searching for a better vanilla cake recipe… sometimes I forget that I probably have the best one out there right now… I figured let me try this for a rainbow cake for my son's birthday… BIg MISTAKE. The cake is overly sweet, and yes it does taste like a sugar cookie, infact this cake is more like a cookie then it is a cake. It reminds me of the dense cakes the rainbow or tri-color italian cookies are made of. It is very dense, overly sweet and and I didn't get much moisture from it, just a very very dense bread like super sweet cake. Thankgod I am a baking mad woman and decided to go crazy and do cake pops and cupcakes too. The kids will love the look of it, but the adults will enjoy the other treats. This is a definite pass for me… btw I followed the directions to a T… when I took it out it also totally deflated… just to mention to you baking gods out there… Don't know what the deal is with this.. but I wish I'd seen some of the suggestions earlier like buttermilk… I wonder if it would have salvaged it a bit. Eitherway doesn't matter I'm not using this recipe again. So bake at your own risk!