Thick, moist, fluffy Vanilla Cake made in high altitude is possible! This is my go-to recipe for birthdays or any other celebrations.
High altitude friends, I have a treat for you today.
I haven’t shared a high altitude specific recipe in a while, so it’s past time!
Have you ever tried to bake a cake in high altitude?
For me, it used to come with anxiety: Will this turn out okay? Will it start out looking good and then cave in in the center? Overflow from the pan? Turn out too dry?
If you’ve baked a cake in high altitude, chances are that you’ve felt the same way at some point.
This High Altitude Vanilla Cake recipe will solve all those problems. It’s thick, fluffy, moist, and it’s a quick and easy recipe. With a few adjustments, your cake problems are gone!
Plus, the base recipe for this cake is made around 5,000 ft in altitude (where I reside), and there’s ANOTHER option if you live even higher (6-7,000 ft).
I recruited my Mom to help me test out this recipe (at their house at 7,000 ft) and it worked beautifully. Actually, my Mom makes and sells cakes, and she said this recipe might even be better than hers!
So forget the other recipes, take a deep breath, and give this one a try!
Let’s talk about a few important steps for making this cake.
First, you’ll cream together your butter and sugar (with a mixer). Typically, it’s recommended that you cream your butter and sugar for a few minutes. For high altitude, I recommend less time (only till just creamed, about a minute). Do not over mix. If you mix it too much, you’ll get extra air bubbles which will cause the cake to rise and then fall.
Next, you’ll add your sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Sour cream is the unsung hero in this recipe! It gives the cake extra structure and moisture. You can substitute with plain Greek yogurt, but sour cream is the best.
Then you’ll add your flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl. Sprinkle your baking powder and salt across the top of the wet ingredients rather than dumping them in one spot. This will help ensure they’re mixed in thoroughly, without over mixing your batter. Mix till your dry ingredients are incorporated into your wet ingredients.
Finally, you’ll slowly add your buttermilk to your batter while your mixer is on.
You should have a fairly thick cake batter. Pour and divide it into two, prepared 9″ round cake pans. Be sure to spread the top smooth with a spatula, prior to baking!
You see how simple that was?! Easy.
A few more details to keep in mind…
First, the ingredients listed in the recipe card is the high altitude option for at about 5,000 ft.
For 6-7,000 ft in altitude, you’ll need to add an extra egg and reduce the baking powder to only 1 tsp. The extra egg will help you have even more structure to give you the proper rise. You shouldn’t need to add anymore flour to compensate for the egg, as extra flour has already been added to the original recipe.
If you’re going to be decorating a layer cake, the vanilla frosting recipe below should be plenty. It’s a double batch of frosting. If you’re keeping it light and simple, you might be able to get by with only half of the frosting recipe below. I prefer less frosting, but my husband would disagree entirely!
Be sure to use a high quality vanilla extract in your cakes. I like to use this one, which is why my frosting is more tan than white.
Last, this cake can also be made gluten-free! I recommend using this all purpose gluten-free flour blend, that’s my favorite (and what I regularly use).
Extra questions you may have…
How do I decorate a cake? This article has great information on how to properly decorate a cake.
How do I store a cake? I recommend baking your cake the day before you need it, and frosting the cake the day of eating it. After your cakes have baked and cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge. Wrapped like this, they will last a few days in the fridge.
After frosting and cutting your cake, your cake will only last about another 3 days. Then it will start to dry out. I recommend either wrapping it or putting it into a container, and keeping it in the fridge. Prior to eating it you can let it sit out till room temperature (or pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds!).
Can you freeze this cake? Yes! I recommend freezing the layers without frosting. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and they should keep for up to 3 months.
If you’ve ever struggled with baking a cake at altitude, my heart goes out to you. It’s the worst! I hope this High Altitude Vanilla Cake recipe changes your luck, and quickly becomes your go-to.
If you love a moist, thick, yet fluffy cake, THIS is the recipe for you! Don’t forget to let me know after you make it too. I love to see what ya’ll make. Comment and leave a star rating below, and tag me on Instagram too!
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 4 eggs
- 4 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 4-6 tbsp milk of choice
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
To begin, preheat your oven to 350. Spray two 9" round cake pans with no-stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
To a large mixing bowl, add your butter and sugar and cream them together with a mixer. Do not over mix. Add your sour cream, eggs and vanilla and mix together again until just incorporated. Add your flour, baking powder and salt and mix again till you have a thick batter. While mixing, slowly add your buttermilk, till you have a smooth, thick cake batter.
Pour your batter into the two cake pans, filing them evenly. Using a spatula, spread the tops into an even layer.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or till the cakes are springy to touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool entirely before removing them from the cake pans, and before frosting. I recommend chilling your cakes in the fridge prior to frosting.
To a large mixing bowl, add your butter, 4 tbsp of milk, and vanilla and mix together with a hand mixer till smooth. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time, and blend till smooth (adding another tbsp of milk, if necessary).
Pipe or spread your frosting on top of your cooled cakes.
*This cake recipe is made for those baking at about 5,000 ft in altitude. For 6-7,000 ft in altitude you’ll need to add another egg and reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp.
*Cake layers can be stored unfrosted, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for about a week in the fridge.
*Cake that’s been frosted will last about 3 days (wrapped tightly or in a container) at room temperature. Or, in the fridge for about 4-5 days. Each day that passes will dry the cake out more.