If you haven’t tried baking a cake in a cast-iron skillet you must try this recipe for Easy Vanilla Cake In A Skillet, it is a recipe near and dear to my heart.
Do you love the flavor of vanilla, then you will find this cake is filled with lots of vanilla bean seeds that create such a glorious vanilla flavor? Add a delicate sprinkling of powdered sugar and cinnamon and top some added sweetness.
from grandma’s kitchen
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I learned to bake in my grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen. From the window, you could see her vegetable garden and the barn beyond. Her cast iron skillet had a permanent place on the stove. My grandmother was a busy woman, so recipes had to be easy and tasty. Needless to say, her Vanilla Cinnamon Skillet Cake was a staple and I think it is the best recipe for a simple vanilla cake ever It wasn’t fancy, but it was oh so good.
This is a small cake recipe that is easy enough to bake midweek for a quick dessert, no layering or frosting required and you get six delicious slices.
Why use a cast-iron skillet for baking cakes?
- Cast-iron skillets hold and retain heat very well and allows for even baking no matter if it is a cake, cobbler, brownies, or even bread. You will find the center of your baked goods is baked evenly throughout.
- Many times you can use the cast-iron skillet to melt or saute ingredients first before adding more toppings. No extra bowls or pans needed. Just think of melting the butter and brown sugar for a pineapple upside-down cake.
- There is nothing better than a well-seasoned iron skillet that creates deliciously crispy bottoms and edges, not hard as a rock crispy, but a nice delicate crispy that adds a caramelized flavor to your baked goods, like the perfect crispy edges on brownies.
Lodge Skillets are my favorite and this preseasoned 10.25 Cast-Iron Skillet is exactly what you need for baking this skillet cake. You don’t need a lid for cake baking, but for cooking in a cast-iron skillet I would recommend the lid.
I hear you saying, what if I don’t have a cast-iron skillet, that’s ok because a lot of people don’t have them, after all, they are heavy pieces of kitchen equipment, so instead of a cast-iron, just use a 9″ or 10″ cake pan and you are good to go.
- Butter – Adds a depth of flavor
- Sugar – With the butter and sugar beaten together you will get a nice buttery tender crumb
- Milk – Acts as a sweetener, it adds moistness to the cake and creates a nice golden brown crust
- Flour – this builds structure to the cake
- Baking powder – the makes the cake rise
- Salt – this adds flavor
- Egg whites – this will make your cake fluffy
- Vanilla Bean – flavor, flavor and more flavor
- Powdered Sugar & Cinnamon – a little sprinkling on top of the cake for a sweet flavor
How to Make a Vanilla Skillet Cake From Scratch
Step 1. The most important ingredient in this cake is the vanilla bean and my favorite baking trick is to flavor the sugar. First, you need to cut the vanilla bean open by cutting it in half longways, splitting the bean into two pieces, and scraping the seeds out with a knife.
Step 2. Next measure out the 1 1/4 cups of sugar, put that into a bowl, and put all the scraped vanilla bean seeds into the sugar. Now, gently stir the sugar and the seeds until the seeds are mixed into the sugar. Doing this helps release the oils in the seeds and evenly distributes them.
Step 3. In a large mixing bowl, or in a stand mixer add the room temperature butter and beat for a minute, then add the sugar mixture and beat two more minutes until it is nice and fluffy.
Step 4. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Step 5. Add 1/4 cup milk to the butter/sugar mixture and then add 1/2 cup of the flour mixture. Keep adding the milk and flour scraping the sides of the bowl.
Step 6. Separate the eggs yolks from the egg whites. For this recipe, we are just using egg whites. Lightly beat the egg whites to break them up then add the egg whites to the mixing bowl and beat on medium speed just until incorporated.
Step 7. Prepare a 10″ cast iron skillet or a 10″ cake pan with cooking spray and flour the bottom. Next, pour the batter into the skillet/pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Begin watching the cake at 30 minutes for over-browning and doneness.
Step 8. Let the cake cool, then with a fine-mesh sifter add the powdered sugar and cinnamon and dust over the top of the cake.
Cake Baking and Ingredient Tips
Why flavor the sugar? I use this technique when making my Lemon Bundt Cake, and Orange Bundt Cake and now use it whenever I am using nonliquid flavorings like vanilla beans, citrus zest, and lavender for instance.
Simply add the flavorings to the sugar and mix with a spoon or with your fingers. Doing this releases the oil in the flavorings and that flavors the sugar and it also incorporates the flavoring in a batter more evenly. I also used this technique to make a sweet topping for my Orange Cranberry Scones.
Beating the sugar and room temperature butter until light and fluffy actually creates bubbles in the butter. This happens when the sugar is beaten into the butter and aerates the butter. These bubbles are what helps make a baked product have a lighter texture with a more tender crumb.
Do not overmix cake batter– Overmixing just leads to a dense and chewy texture which just isn’t delightful in cakes. This also applies to muffin batter, pie crusts, biscuits, and scones. These are items you do not want any of the elastic gluten development, that’s what you want in bread dough.
When buying vanilla beans look for a shiny, plump, and moist beans. Here is a guide all about vanilla so you can learn about this amazing flavoring.
How to store a vanilla bean – Wrap the bean in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for up to six months.
How to scrape a vanilla bean – Cut the bean open lengthwise, the open the bean up to expose the seeds inside. Using the flat side of a paring knife, scrape down the length of the pod to remove the seeds.
What if I don’t have a vanilla bean – Vanilla beans are expensive and are not used in a lot of recipes so there are options. 1 vanilla bean = 2 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla or 1 vanilla bean = 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
Next time you are craving a simple and delicious dessert, bake this luscious cake that lets the flavor and aroma of the vanilla bean stand out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Don’t forget to Pin to your favorite dessert board.
Other delicious One Hot Oven recipes
Cherry Apricot Upside Down Cake that bakes up golden brown and tender with amazing fruit flavors.
Easy Vanilla Cake in a Skillet
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and spray a 10" cast iron skillet with cooking spray and dust with flour. Optionally you can use a 9" or 10" cake pan.
- Measure the sugar into a bowl. Next, cut the vanilla bean in half longwise then open it up and scrape the seeds out with the flat side of the knife. Add the seeds to the sugar and thoroughly mix together. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl add the room temperature butter and beat for one minute on medium speed.
- Add the sugar mixture to the bowl and beat for two minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together.
- Add a 1/4 cup of milk to the butter/sugar mixture then add 1/2 cup of the flour. Keep alternating adding the milk and flour; scrape the bowl occasionally.
- Put the egg whites in a bowl and lightly beat to break up the whites. Add the beaten egg whites to the bowl and mix until combined. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cast-iron skillet or baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes. If the top of the cake is getting too brown cover the cake with aluminum foil. The cake is done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.
- In a small sifter or fine-meshed strainer add the powdered sugar and cinnamon in layers then sift over the cooled cake.
- Cover any leftover cake with plastic wrap and keep on the counter for up to two days.
Want to try another skillet cake?Maple Apple Skillet Cake features a moist vanilla cake topped with sweet apples that bake into the cake batter. This cake is moist and sweetly delicious.
Easy Vanilla Bean Cake Made From Scratch
Have you ever run out of an ingredient while making a recipe? It happens all the time. Make sure to save this valuable guide on Recipe Ingredient Substitutions so you never have to run to the store mid-recipe again.
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory recipes with all my baking friends.
Have any questions or just want to chat about the recipe? Contact me here, and I’ll be happy to help!