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Ombre Vanilla Cake

Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Ombre Vanilla Cake
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Resting time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 12 servings



  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk room temperature

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
  • 5 - 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 5 - 6 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Making the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans.

  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. On medium-high speed, add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
  6. There is about 8 cups of batter total, so each layer will be 2 and 2/3 cups. Pour/spread batter evenly into prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake for around 25-26 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.

Making the Buttercream Frosting

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.

  2. With the mixer running on low, add 5 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 5 tablespoons heavy cream, and the vanilla extract. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes.
  3. Add 1/2 cup more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin, 1 more tablespoon cream if frosting is too thick.
  4. Yields about 4.5 cups of frosting.

Assemble and Decorate the Cake

  1. First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard or save and eat later.
  2. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Spread frosting evenly on top.

  3. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with more frosting.

  4. Top with the third cake layer and evenly cover the top with more frosting. Cover the sides with a crumb coat finish of frosting.

  5. Use a bench scraper to smooth out the frosting on the sides of the cake.
  6. Decorate cake with the ombre effect and follow the instructions above. 

  7. Refrigerate the cake for 2-3 hours or up to 1 day before slicing and serving. If chilling for more than a few hours, loosely cover with plastic wrap after 1 hour of refrigeration (the frosting will "set" after about 1 hour and the plastic wrap won't really ruin your frosting at that point).

Recipe Notes

Cover and store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.