Table of Contents
  1. What is the reverse creaming method?
  2. Why use a Swiss meringue frosting?
  3. Watch how to make this vanilla bean layer cake
  4. Vanilla Bean Layer Cake Recipe

Everyone needs a great cake recipe, one that you become known for and use for special occasions. A cake is something you don’t make every day, so when you choose to make one, it needs to be worthy… and worth the effort.

This is my go-to cake recipe. It’s a simple white cake, but a white cake that has actual flavor. Full of vanilla, not just a hint, but also perfectly textured and never dry. This cake is worthy of a wedding but perfect for a birthday or impromptu celebration!

White frosted layer cake sitting on white cake stand in background with slice of cake sitting on white plate with fork in front all one white countertop

What is the reverse creaming method?

For many, we’re accustomed to many cake recipes calling for the creaming of butter with the sugars. Why is this? Well, creaming adds air and lightness to a baked good.

In direct opposition to this, the reverse creaming method begins by mixing the dry ingredients, then adding the butter to the dry ingredients. As the butter is added, it gains the texture of a coarse cornmeal. The result of a reverse creaming is a more even texture once baked.

And along with an even texture, the cake has a sturdy structure to hold up to a pastry cream filling.

Close up view of slice of white cake with yellow layer of pudding filling sitting on white plate with white frosting
Look at those vanilla bean seeds in both the cake itself but the filling as well! That’s what truly makes this the ultimate vanilla bean cake!
Side view of sliced section on white layer cake with yellow colored pudding filling in the middle of two layers of white cake sitting on white cake plate

Why use a Swiss meringue frosting?

If you know me, you know that frosting is my thing. I always gravitate toward the piece of cake that has the most frosting. American buttercreams, made with powdered sugar and butter are okay, but they can be heavy and overly sweet. A cake is already sweet and a frosting should complement but not overpower.

Swiss meringue frosting, on the other hand, mixes egg whites with sugar and heats it slowly until the sugar is melted and the whites are stable at 180°F. Once stable, they’re whipped to stiff peaks and cooled to room temperature. Then the butter is added slowly and whipped into a smooth, silky, but not too sweet frosting.

The resulting frosting is never grainy, but surprisingly light for all the butter added. No other frosting compares!

Side view of white frosting on white layer cake sitting on white cake plate
Top down view of white frosted cake with swirled effect on top sitting on white cake plate

Watch how to make this vanilla bean layer cake

Slice of white cake with fork scooping off piece topped with white frosting and yellow colored middle layer sitting on white plate on white countertop

Vanilla Bean Layer Cake

4.8 from 5 votes
This two-layer decadent cake is the perfect recipe to bake whether it's a special occasion or just an ordinary day! With a Swiss meringue frosting and a pudding-like center layer, this vanilla bean-focused cake is the ultimate!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Chill Time 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract

For the pastry cream

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp butter cold
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste

For the frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 24 tbsp butter room temperature

Instructions
 

For the cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter two 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment in the bottom, and butter the parchment. Set them aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Turn mixer on low and add butter 1 tbsp at a time, allowing to incorporate for 30 seconds between each addition. Once the butter is added, the mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, 2 minutes. Add the vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract, and almond extract to the milk. With the mixer running on low speed, add half the egg white mixture, followed by half the milk. Repeat with the final egg whites and milk. Mix until just incorporated, 30 seconds.
  • Transfer the batter evenly to the prepared cake pans and bake in preheated oven until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean with only a few crumbs, 25-30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans, discard the parchment, and cool on racks until completely cooled. This can be made one week in advance if kept airtight in a freezer.

For the pastry cream

  • In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, whole milk, and cornstarch. Whisk to combine and set over medium-low heat. Continue to whisk until thick and just beginning to bubble, 5-8 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, and add the vanilla and butter. Whisk until smooth. Pour into a bowl, press plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream, and store in the refrigerator until well chilled, 2 hours.

For the frosting

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Whisk to combine over barely simmering water. Continue to whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature of the egg whites reaches 180°F.
  • Remove from the heat and whip on medium speed slowly, increasing to high until the meringue becomes glossy, stiff, and room temperature, 7-10 minutes. The meringue needs to be at room temperature and not warm before adding any butter or the butter will melt.
  • Once the meringue is at room temperature, add the vanilla and almond extract. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the butter 1 tbsp at a time, allowing to incorporate after each addition. Once all the butter is added, the frosting should be thick, silky, and creamy.

To assemble the cake

  • Even up the cooled cakes by removing the dome on top with a serrated knife. Place one layer on a cake plate or serving dish. Add the pastry cream to the middle of the layer and spread outwards, leaving a 1-inch border. Place the second layer on top.
  • Add a thin crumb coat of frosting to the cake, sealing in the pastry cream between the layers. Set the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill the crumb coat and seal in any crumbs.
  • Once chilled, finish frosting and serving immediately or store in the refrigerator for 5 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 469kcalCarbohydrates: 55.2gProtein: 5.3gFat: 25.8gSaturated Fat: 15.7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7.6gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 111.6mgSodium: 299.1mgPotassium: 304.3mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 36.8gVitamin A: 223.2IUVitamin C: 0mgCalcium: 135.9mgIron: 1.9mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Baking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Happy Happy Birthday!! What date is your day?? Our family has 11 August birthdays!! Cannot wait to make this cake- for my birthday next month!!

  2. 5 stars
    My birthday is 19 August I made it the night before for my birthday and it was a wonderful surprise how wonderful it tasted thank you so much and have a good birthday on your day

  3. 5 stars
    Made this yesterday for my Small Group as we had a birthday yesterday. Oh my goodness, so delicious and light. Perfect recipe all around. Only have a small amount of it left over for my vanilla loving grandson. Definitely making it again. It joins my cassata cake and chocolate cake recipes!