Vanilla Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


The perfect dessert to feed a crowd, this vanilla sheet is easy to frost and decorate, easy to transport, and easy to serve.

Tis’ the season for graduation parties, potlucks, and summer BBQs. At my house alone this month, we are celebrating my son’s 18th birthday and high school graduation and my husband’s 50th (!!). These occasions scream for a sheet cake. Less fussy than a layer cake but just as festive, a sheet cake is easy to frost and decorate, easy to transport, and easy to cut and serve — plus, it feeds a crowd.

This luscious vanilla sheet cake with cream cheese frosting is adapted from my favorite cake cookbook, Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri. It can also be made as cupcakes or topped with berries and turned into a flag cake.

What You’ll Need To Make Vanilla Sheet Cake

vanilla sheet cake ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Bake the Cake

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

creamed butter and sugar

Beat in the vanilla.

adding vanilla

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

adding eggs one at a time

Don’t worry if the batter looks a little curdled at this point.

curdled batter

Reduce the speed to low, then beat in one-third of the flour mixture.

adding flour to vanilla sheet cake batter

Pour in half of the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add another third of the flour, followed by the remaining buttermilk. Beat in the remaining flour.

adding buttermilk to vanilla sheet cake batter

Scrape down the bowl and beat again until the batter is evenly combined. Do not overmix.

vanilla sheet cake batter

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan.

batter in cake pan

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is set and lightly golden around the edges, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

baked vanilla sheet cake

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and light, about 2 minutes.

beating butter and cream cheese

Stop the mixer and add about half of the confectioners’ sugar; mix on low to combine. Gradually add the remaining sugar, keeping the speed on low.

adding sugar

Once all of the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

cream cheese frosting in bowl

When the cake is cool, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to top the cake with the frosting.

frosting the cake

Swirl the frosting lavishly.

frosted vanilla sheet cake

The cake is best enjoyed fresh on the day it is baked, but it will keep nicely for a few days. Store in an airtight container (or cover tightly with plastic wrap) at room temperature.

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Vanilla Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The perfect dessert to feed a crowd, this vanilla sheet is easy to frost and decorate, easy to transport, and easy to serve.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Butter and flour a 9×13-in pan, or use nonstick cooking spray with flour in it, such as Baker’s Joy or Pam with Flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. (Don’t worry if the batter looks a little curdled at this point.)
  4. Reduce the speed to low, then beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add another third of the flour, followed by the remaining buttermilk. Beat in the remaining flour, then scrape down the bowl and beat again until the batter is evenly combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is set and lightly golden around the edges, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and light, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add about half of the confectioners’ sugar; mix on low to combine. Gradually add the remaining sugar, keeping the speed on low. Once all of the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  2. When the cake is cool, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to swirl the frosting lavishly over top. The cake is best enjoyed fresh on the day it is baked, but it will keep nicely for a few days. Store in an airtight container (or cover tightly with plastic wrap) at room temperature.

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