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Old Fashioned Butter Cake

This Old Fashioned Butter Cake is the basis of so many special occasion cakes. Once the layers are baked this versatile cake can be filled with jam and topped with whipped cream and fresh berries, turned into strawberry shortcake or iced with your favorite flavor of frosting for your next birthday party. It’s the one cake flavor besides chocolate, that people search for the most when an occasion arises that warrants a celebration.

Old Fashioned Butter Cake

Easy Old Fashioned Butter Cake Recipe

Through the years,  I’ve heard yellow cakes called by various names such as old fashioned butter cake, plain cake, vanilla cake, yellow cake and 1-2-3-4 cake. They’re all slight variations of the same cake and it’s the one cake recipe that everyone needs in their dessert recipe file. Frost it with your favorite icing flavor and this cake is ready to get the party started.

Old Fashioned Butter Cake

How to Make the Best Old Fashioned Butter Cake Recipe

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Butter Cake: All purpose flour, cake flour, butter, buttermilk, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, vanilla, extract, butter extract, almond extract and large eggs.
  • Kitchen tools you’ll need: A stand mixer or a hand mixer, large bowl, medium bowl, measuring cups and spoons, 8 inch cake pans, cooling rack and whisk.
  • Two Types of Flour Make a Difference in the Texture: My personal favorite butter cake as demonstrated in this recipe, uses a combination of all-purpose flour and cake flour for just the right texture. It’s not too crumbly, not too dense.
  • If time allows, while the butter is softening and coming to room temperature allow the eggs to come to room temperature, too. If you forget, the recipe will still work but it does seem to add more volume to the cake batter when the eggs aren’t cold.
  • When adding eggs to a cake recipe, crack them into a smaller separate bowl or measuring cup first. This will prevent any egg shell from going directly into the mixing bowl and ruining the batter.
  • I’m an avid baker and I’ve used a whisk for sifting dry ingredients for many years. It works like a charm. You can also use a fine mesh sieve if you don’t have an old fashioned sifter.
  • This cake can be frosted with any flavor icing you like. Checkout my recipes for Whipped Chocolate Frosting, fluffy 7 Minute Frosting, easy Vanilla Buttercream Icing, citrus filled Pink Lemonade Frosting or classic Cream Cheese Icing.
  • You can also make this cake up to 2 days in advance and store the layers separately chilled in the refrigerator tightly wrapped in plastic wrap prior to frosting.
  • Freeze Old Fashioned Butter Cake for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and frost it your way.

Old Fashioned Butter Cake

More Easy Cake Recipes to Make

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Old Fashioned Butter Cake Recipe
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5 from 2 votes

Old Fashioned Butter Cake

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: old-fashioned-butter-cake
Servings: 3 layers
Calories: 1807kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup softened butter [2 1/2 sticks]
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp butter extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract optional
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 3 [9] inch round cake pans or spray with baking spray. [i.e. Bakers Joy]
  • Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside. 
  • Using an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, butter and almond extracts. Beat with a mixer for around 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl periodically so all ingredients will combine.
  • Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Beat on medium speed until all has been incorporated, then increase the speed of the mixer and beat for 1-2 minutes.
  • Divide evenly between the prepared pans. Bounce the pans on the counter a couple of times to settle the batter and release air bubbles.
  • Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.
  • Cool in the pan on a baking rack. After cooled frost as desired.


  • Three 9"rounds
  • One 13 x 9-inch sheet cake
  • 24-36 cupcakes


Serving: 1layer | Calories: 1807kcal | Carbohydrates: 234g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 87g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 257mg | Sodium: 1557mg | Potassium: 780mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 138g | Vitamin A: 3876IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 352mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!


  1. In your notes it is said that it can be baked in a 9 x 13 dish. Is there any difference in the temperature or baking time? And does it make a difference if it is a glass dish?

    1. There’s no difference in the temperature. You will need to check it at the 25 minute mark for doneness with a cake tester or toothpick. You can bake it in a glass dish, again check it for doneness around the 25 minute mark.

  2. 5 stars
    I just made this cake for a potluck at church tomorrow. I baked a ramekin one as well to frost and eat in advance. I made one small change, I added a ½ cup of sour cream. I also baked it in a 9 x 13 pan. This cake was superior to any other yellow cake/butter cake recipe I have ever used. The crumb was delicate yet moist and the cake was firm but soft. My husband (my official cake tester) loved it! This will be my go to recipe from now on. Thank you for the great recipe!

  3. Hi Melissa
    How much more all-purpose flour, cake flour, milk and eggs would I use if I use a lb of butter(4 sticks) for this cake?

    1. That’s a complete rewriting of this recipe and I couldn’t answer that unless I tested it. If you try it, let us know how it goes.

  4. Have you ever used non-dairy milk, such as almond milk? I was thinking of adding vinegar to it to make non-diary buttermilk. Thank you!

      1. I tried it and it worked out very well! I have made the cake both ways now and I can say that it tastes delicious either way. I substituted the 1 cup of milk for 1 cup almond milk (minus 1 Tblsp. of vinegar) and it tasted just as good or better. Just letting you know in case you ever need to make a non-dairy version.

  5. Melissa, can I make this recipe, as written, using three 8-inch pans with success; or do I need to adjust cooking time since they would be taller? I’m 75-years old and just taking up baking after many years and it feels a bit intimidating to make any changes to a recipe. Would greatly appreciate your opinion before having to purchase new pans to make your cake. Thank you.

    1. Hi Louise, it’s never too late to enjoy baking! I’m so happy you’ve found something to make. You can absolutely use 8 inch pans, and they may take just a bit longer to bake. Check them around 25 minutes with a toothpick in the center then add time in 5 minute increments from there, as needed.

  6. Hi Melissa, I just made your Italian Cream Cake, and not only was it the best cake I’ve ever made, everyone who’s tried it said it was one of the best cakes they’ve ever had! Next up is trying your Old Fashioned Butter Cake. My question is about a chocolate frosting for this cake. Seems like every chocolate frosting recipe I find is the type with a whipped, airy, light, fluffy texture, that always needs to be refrigerated. But I’m looking for one of those old-fashioned chocolate frostings that’s smooth, rich, and creamy, with a deep chocolate intense flavor, that typically didn’t need refrigeration. Would you have such a recipe?

    1. Hi Steve, I’m so happy you loved this cake! I have a couple of chocolate frosting recipes, I’m not sure if they’re what you’re looking for or not. When you have a moment, feel free to browse here. If not, stay tuned, I’m always adding more.

  7. If you were using this recipe for cupcakes, how full would you fill the liner and how long would you bake?

  8. Hi Melissa, thank you for posting this recipe. It was an awesome, amazing cake . Only thing I did different was I added 1/8 vegetable oil. It was moist , softens and delicious. I finally found my go to yellow cake. Thank you so much.

  9. Hi Melissa! This recipe sounds delicious and I’m wondering if you’ve ever used it for your layers in an old fashioned caramel cake? Thanks!!

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