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Berry Vanilla Cake

This Berry Vanilla Cake proves just how delicious a simple dessert can be! Light vanilla cake is dotted with juicy fresh berries, then dusted with sparkling sugar for a delightful bit of crunch.

Square of berry vanilla cake on plate with dollop of whipped cream

Light Berry Cake—Perfect for Summer!

When the weather starts warming up in late spring, there’s a lot to get excited about, and if you love to bake, fresh local berries definitely rank at the top of that list. Is there anything better than the aroma of sun-ripened strawberries? Or mulberries picked fresh from the tree in your backyard? Blackberries that are so juicy, they stain your fingers? 

This Berry Vanilla Cake is a simple way to enjoy all those fresh berries with a good dose of vanilla flavor. And it’s so pretty that it doesn’t even need a frosting or a glaze. Just add a little whipped cream! Along with my Mixed Berry Cream Cheese Crisp and Fresh Berry Tart, it’s one of my favorite ways to use an assortment of summer berries.

The cake itself is a version of a traditional white cake. It uses egg whites instead of whole eggs for a lighter color, and by whipping the egg whites and folding them into the batter, you’ll get a fluffier texture. It’s substantive enough to pair with juicy berries, but light enough to set it apart from a standard cake recipe.

A dusting of sanding sugar is the perfect finishing touch to add some sparkle and crunch!

Overhead view of berry vanilla cake ingredients

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • All-purpose flour – Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter – Learn more: Unsalted or Salted Butter: Which is Better for Baking?
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk – Whole milk is best in this recipe!
  • Egg whites
  • Assorted berries – Use a combination of berries, or just one variety. Large strawberries should be quartered.
  • Sanding sugar – Demerara sugar will work, too, although the crystals are a bit bigger.
  • Sweetened whipped cream
Overhead view of berry vanilla cake on plate with dollop of whipped cream

How to Make Berry Vanilla Cake

This lovely cake is just the dessert for celebrating berry season. Here’s how to make it!

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″x 13″x 2″ baking pan, or line it with parchment paper and grease the paper.

Overhead view of dry cake ingredients in mixing bowl

Mix the dry ingredients. In a large, bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until they’re light and fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients and milk to the butter mixture. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 portions, alternating with 2 portions of milk. Beat until just combined.

Finish the batter. In another mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter.

Assemble. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Scatter the berries over the top of the batter, then sprinkle the sanding sugar on top, if you’re using it.

Overhead view of berry vanilla cake in pan with bowl of berries and whipped cream

Bake. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan, then serve.

How Long Should It Take to Get Stiff Peaks?

It takes about 5 minutes to get stiff peaks when using an electric hand mixer. Start with the mixer on medium speed; once soft peaks form, increase the speed to high and continue beating until you get stiff peaks that are glossy and stand straight when you lift the beaters.

Overhead view of berry vanilla cake in pan

Tips for Success

Here are some hints and tips to help you make the perfect Berry Vanilla Cake!

  • Want to remove the cake from the pan before serving? Line the pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the short ends by a couple of inches. Grease the pan and parchment paper. Once the cake has cooled, use the overhanging paper to lift the cake out of the pan.
  • Using frozen berries. This cake is best with fresh berries, but if you need to use frozen, make sure they’re still frozen when you add them to the cake batter. If they’ve thawed when you add them, they’ll bleed into the cake.
  • Don’t over-mix. Stirring too vigorously can make your cake tough, and it can also deflate the egg whites. 
Closeup of berry vanilla cake topped with whipped cream

Serving Suggestions

In addition to serving this cake with whipped cream, you can dress it up with:

  • A sprig of fresh mint leaves
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • Creme anglaise
  • Lemon curd
  • More fresh berries!
Square of berry vanilla cake on plate with dollop of whipped cream

How to Store

This cake can be stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. Wrap it well or store smaller amounts of leftovers in an airtight storage container. 

Can This Cake Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze Berry Vanilla Cake for up to 3 months. Wrap it well or store it in an airtight container. It can be thawed at room temperature or warmed up in the microwave in 15-second increments.

Square of berry vanilla cake on plate with dollop of whipped cream, berries, whipped cream, and another plate in background
Find more cake recipes in the Recipe Index.

Berry Vanilla Cake

Yield 18 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes

Celebrate berry season with this simple, delicious, and delightful Berry Vanilla Cake.

Square of berry vanilla cake on plate with dollop of whipped cream

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (236ml) milk
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 cups assorted berries*
  • sanding sugar, optional
  • sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9"x 13"x 2" baking pan. You can also line it with parchment paper and grease the paper.**
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour in 3 portions, alternating with 2 portions of milk. Mix just until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold into the cake batter.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Scatter the berries over the top of the batter. If you like, sprinkle sanding sugar over the top of the cake and berries.
  7. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has browned and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before serving.

Notes

*Cut larger berries like strawberries into quarters.

**If you'd like to remove the entire cake from the pan instead of serving from the pan, line the pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the short ends by a couple of inches. Grease the pan and parchment paper. Once the cake has cooled, use the overhanging paper to lift the cake out of the pan.

This cake can be stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap it well or store smaller amounts of leftovers in an airtight storage container. 

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    13 Comments on “Berry Vanilla Cake”

  1. Love this! I go crazy buying berries in the summer and I LOVE to use them in desserts – I can tell myself it’s a healthy dessert then 🙂 Thanks for sharing – looks great!

  2. Hi Jennifer!
    This looks like another delicious cake…..all of your recipes are great! Do you think this cake could be made with a crumb topping? I won’t be able to take whipped cream to the place I’m bringing it so I was just wondering.
    Hope you’re having a great summer!

  3. I added rhubarb in place of Strawberries (allergy), and it was a success.

  4. Wonderful recipe!! It was a hit with the whole family especially the teens. Is it ok next time to use frozen berries?:) thank you!

  5. Jennifer!   I Just made the berry vanilla cake my July 4th dinner tomorrow. Well you just know I couldn’t wait till tomorrow to taste it, so I sliced off a long skinny piece at one end, added a little whipped cream, and I am in heaven. I did not need to grease the parchment paper. It worked perfectly without it, and Next time I would  use even more more berries.   I had to order sanding sugar online, because my local grocery, Publix, does not carry it. Excellent recipe moist, fluffy, beautiful cake.   You are my hero Jennifer. I love your recipes. 

  6. not to be that person on a recipe blog, but I made it with wild blackberries, changed the vanilla to about a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, and used about a half cup less of sugar (because I forgot to write down how much sugar there was and guessed wrong) and it turned out amazing

  7. I made it for the first time and all of my best fellow condo dwellers really enjoyed it. It reminded my next door neighbor of a cke that her mother use to make. Thanks for the recipe.

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