Plain Cake Recipe

5 from 37 votes
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Here is the perfect Plain Cake Recipe for breakfast, brunch, a snack, or dessert. So many people have made this recipe with great success. It is fool-proof!

Plain cake in a heart-shaped pan with a knife on the side.

This is how my food and nutrition teacher, aka home economics madame, taught me how to make cake many years ago.

I have made cake like this umpteen times before I started corrupting my batter with all kinds of flavors and ingredients like coconut, carrot, apple and even pumpkin. Hence my recipes for Coconut Cupcakes, Old Fashioned Carrot Cake, Old Fashioned Fresh Apple Cake, and Pumpkin Roll Cake.

Today, I am going back to basics. Back to where the cake craze began. Back to the plain cake recipe I have baked with or without an oven.

Plain cake with slices taken out.

Back in the day, I would pour sand into a large pot and heat it up on a three-stone fireside, which is the traditional cooking place in Cameroon. That heated sand in a pot was my DIY oven.

I will then mix my batter and bake my way into stardom. Everyone in our home, including our neighbors, will be “campaigning” to eat some.

After feeding them, I will wrap the leftovers and hide far away somewhere to serve my dad after his evening meal, to serve guests, or to just enjoy!

Oh memories! 

Why This Recipe Works

  • It has the right amount of sweetness. I love this plain cake recipe, as simple and unadorned as it is. It is what my taste buds knew as cake right from the start. It is slightly airy and sweet but not overwhelmingly sweet. It is perfect!
  • It is versatile. This cake pairs well with tea or coffee! It is a great thing to have in your fridge. You can enjoy it in the morning for breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or as dessert!
  • This plain cake needs no frosting. Sometimes, simplicity is sophistication. It’s an extremely pleasant treat as-is. But if you are looking for a good cake base recipe for frosting, check out this Vanilla Sponge Cake!

Ingredients Needed

Plain cake recipe ingredients with labels on them.
  • Flour and Sugar: For this simple cake, use all-purpose flour and granulated sugar—no special flours or sweeteners are required!
  • Eggs: This plain cake recipe requires six eggs to provide structure, resulting in a less crumbly cake.
  • Milk: The milk provides much-needed moisture to the recipe so the cake isn’t dry. You can use any type of milk that you prefer, but I suggest whole, skim, or evaporated milk.
  • Butter or Margarine: In cake recipes, margarine or butter gives the cake a tender crumb and prevents it from being dense. When using either fat, make sure it is soft so you can effortlessly mix it with the sugar.
  • Baking Powder: This ingredient is crucial for the cake to rise. Ensure the baking powder is fresh and check the expiration date because old products won’t work effectively.

See the recipe card below with a detailed list of ingredients and instructions.

Watch How To Make A Plain Cake

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How To Make A Plain Cake

  1. Cream together margarine or butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Mixed butter and sugar in a bowl.

2. Add eggs and vanilla extract to the sugar and butter mixture.

Eggs, vanilla, and other ingredients in a bowl.

3. Add in a third of the flour, all the baking powder and grated nutmeg and mix until all incorporated.

Dry ingredients added to cake batter.

4. Alternate adding the flour and milk, until all incorporated. So, add in half of the milk and mix until fully incorporated. Then add half of the remaining flour and mix to combine. Add in the remaining milk and mix to incorporate and finally add in the remaining flour and mixing to combine.

Cake batter in a metal bowl.

5. Pour the batter into a greased and floured baking pan and bake.

Cake batter in a heart-shaped pan.

The plain cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Spices: Although this recipe has some nutmeg, you can always add more baking spices for a more pronounced spiced flavor, such as cinnamon, cloves, or ginger.
  • Extract: Experiment with different flavors of baking extract. You can swap the vanilla with lemon, maple, almond, or even coconut! There are plenty of options, and it’s so easy to customize the flavor to your preferences.
  • Milk: If you want to use plant-based milk, such as almond milk, it will certainly work. Just remember it will slightly change the flavor of the cake. However, the almond flavor and vanilla extract will taste good together!
Heart shaped plain cake on a cooling rack.

Expert Tips For Plain Cake

  • It’s possible to use pans of varying sizes, but the baking time may need to be adjusted. If you opt for a larger pan, the batter will spread out more, resulting in a cake that bakes faster and is shorter in height.
  • Conversely, if you use a smaller pan that creates a deeper batter, the cake will take longer to bake, as the center needs more cooking time. In this instance, it’s a good idea to slightly lower the oven temperature.
  • You can always double the recipe if you need more batter to fill your exact pan. Just remember to never fill the pans more than 2/3 full.
  • If your cakes always form a dome shape, check if your oven is accurate. Ovens that run hotter than they should can cause this issue. To check your oven’s accuracy, use an oven thermometer and calibrate the oven if needed.
  • You can also try using cake strips to prevent cakes from doming. These strips are soaked in water to become moist and then wrapped around the outside of the pan. They remain on the pan while baking and protect the outer edges of the cake, resulting in a more even bake.
Heart shaped plain cake in the pan.

Recipe Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Add Flavor To Plain Cake?

The neat thing about plain cake is that it is delicious as is, and you don’t necessarily need to add anything to it. My recipe has subtle notes of vanilla and nutmeg, and when combined with the right amount of sugar, it has a wonderful flavor.

However, if you want to add more flavor to plain cake, you could always use a different baking extract. You can also add fresh lemon zest or mix-ins, such as nuts!

What Is The Difference Between Plain Cake And Sponge Cake?

Typically, plain cake and sponge cake have different ratios of ingredients, and they are sometimes made with different mixing methods, too. For instance, sponge cakes often contain more eggs and fewer chemical leavening agents. This is because the eggs are the primary source of leavening for the cake.

Also, sponge cakes might require you to beat the egg whites until fluffy to create an airy batter. On the other hand, my plain cake recipe is much more straightforward. It uses the creaming method to mix the fat and sugar before incorporating other ingredients.

What Are The 3 Types Of Cakes?

The two main types of cakes are butter cakes and foam cakes. However, some would argue that certain cakes don’t fall under either category and, therefore, need a third category. Most cakes can be categorized as one of these two types, though.

Butter cakes, also known as oil cakes, typically contain fat in the form of butter, margarine, or vegetable oil and have a classic cake texture. Foam cakes are lighter and airier due to the high amount of eggs and little fat. I mentioned sponge cake above, which is a type of foam cake.

Similar Recipes

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If you make this recipe please leave a star rating below. Your rating helps others find the recipe plus I love hearing from you! Thank you!

Baked cake with a knife.

Plain Cake Recipe

5 from 37 votes
A super simple basic cake recipe that even a baking novice can bake!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients  

  • 10 tablespoons softened salted butter (141 grams) or margarine
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose sifted flour (360 grams)
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup whole milk (250 ml) 2% milk or evaporated milk would work

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Oil and flour a 10-inch baking pan and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the softened butter or margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. If using a stand mixer, mix on medium to high speed. It takes me about 5 minutes with my stand mixer. You might need to adjust your mixer speed and time depending on your mixer.
  • Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing each time until the egg is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
  • Add a third of the flour, all the nutmeg, and baking powder, and mix until well incorporated. Add half of the milk and mix to combine. Add half of the remaining flour and mix until just combined then add in the remaining milk and mix to combine. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined and there is no more visible dry flour.
  • Pour the batter into prepared cake pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it on the cooling rack and let it cool completely. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • Pans of varying sizes could be used, but the baking time may need to be adjusted. If you opt for a larger pan, the batter will spread out more, resulting in a cake that bakes faster and is shorter in height.
  • Bake in 2 8-inch round pans if you want to bake two cakes that can be frosted into a layer cake.
  • This cake pairs well with tea or coffee! It is a great thing to have in your fridge. You can also serve it with whipped cream and fruit or yogurt.
  • I have rewritten this recipe for clarity and a better baking experience, altering how the eggs are added and when the milk is added. It’s still the plain cake recipe you love and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 265mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 683IU | Vitamin C: 0.03mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: International
Calories: 384
Tried this recipe?Mention @preciouscore or tag #PreciousCore!

About Precious

Welcome to my core! I am Precious Nkeih, the recipe developer and writer right here on my blog, Precious Core. My goal is to show you insanely delicious recipes you can replicate in your kitchen. And I love to tell stories too. Hope you find recipes here that will make cooking easier for you! Check me out on YouTube at YouTube.com/PreciousKitchen.


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101 Comments

  1. I’m ready to go back to the cake world just reading your recipes. Thanks for being plain, accurate and expository. The pictures are Wow! Keep it coming?

  2. Thank you very much for the recipee.
    I have been making cakes over many years now, but your recipee has helped me upgrade so much. It is just perfect
    I thought 6 eggs was much, but it perfectly fitted in and produced a very delicious cake.

    I happened to make some cakes for my house fellowship, and spontaneously after they ate the cake, i had many commands rushing in..
    Thank you very much for this.

    1. Nounou, your comment made my day! Thank you for taking the time to tell me about how the recipe worked for you.