Old-fashioned vanilla birthday cake recipe

Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting

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This classic, homemade vanilla birthday cake recipe from 1955 is one that will never go out of style! Made with simple, staple pantry ingredients, this recipe yields you tender fluffy cake with a rich vanilla flavor.

Decorate with our vintage fluffy vanilla frosting recipe — and you’ll have the perfect addition to your birthday celebration traditions!

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned vanilla birthday cake

From the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) December 2, 1955

It is sometimes fun to be old-fashioned. Good, old-fashioned flavors, the fragrance of old-fashioned cakes cooling on the pantry shelf, really good, old-fashioned frostings — these are some of the pleasant things of grandma’s day that can stand some re-creating today.

When grandma used to enter her cakes at the State Fair, she was downright fussy about the ingredients she used. The best of butter, country fresh eggs, good rich milk and, of course, only pure flavorings, would win her blue ribbons.

Old-fashioned vanilla birthday cake recipe
Photo: Lana Langlois | Dreamstime.com

In flavoring, she knew that only the true, pure vanilla extract would give a cake the delicate flavor and freshly baked fragrance that would make her a prize-winner. There could be nothing stale about her cake — neither in texture, taste, nor aroma.

When grandma entertained, she always served cake. White cake, chocolate cake or caramel, it always stood in a place of honor. Now that the cool weather is here, her modern granddaughter, when she plans fall entertaining, might do well to take a leaf from grandma’s recipe book and feature a fresh, homemade cake.

Teenagers, after the game, would love a slice of cake with its creamy, rich frosting. At a harvest festival, given by a club or church group, a dark brown, moist, chocolate cake would be greeted with cheers. And what is a birthday party without a high white cake with its crown of candles?

Let’s revive grandma’s cake baking art. It’s the season for it!

SEE MORE: The best way to make a cake from scratch: Easy tips & checklists from the cake-baking masters of the 50s

Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting

Old-fashioned vanilla birthday cake

Yield: 12 to 16 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, softed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, unbeaten
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 1 batch of fluffy vanilla frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together. When combined, set this flour mixture aside for later use.
  3. Cream shortening, sugar and pure vanilla extract together until fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  5. Add the flour mixture alternately with milk.
  6. Beat batter for 30 seconds.
  7. Pour batter into 3 well-greased and lightly-floured 9-inch round cake pans.
  8. Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until done.
  9. Cool for 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack.
  10. When cold, spread fluffy vanilla frosting between layers, as well as over top and around sides of cakes.


Calorie count is an approximation, and does not include values for the frosting.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 117mgCarbohydrates: 86gFiber: 0gSugar: 76gProtein: 3g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

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