The way that Yossy Arefi organized her cookbook Snacking Cakes is a little surprising to me. The recipes are divided into four sections, in this order: fruit cakes; warm + toasty cakes; chocolatey cakes; and not your average vanilla cakes. What I find so unusual is the fact that she saved her vanilla cake recipe for the very end -- I mean, vanilla cake is as basic as it gets, so I would have expected it a bit earlier. And I think it's why it's taken me so long to try the vanilla cake. Every time I flip through the cookbook, I come across so many other cakes I want to bake before I get to the end.
The headnote says that "this is the closest thing to a yellow cake from a boxed mix that I've ever made in my home kitchen -- and that's a good thing!" To make the cake batter, you whisk sugar and an egg until pale; add buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla paste, and salt; and whisk in flour, baking powder, and baking soda. You pour the batter into a parchment-lined pan to bake.
This cake had a very tender, delicate, bouncy texture, and a clean vanilla flavor. However, it was also oily to the touch, which I found slightly off-putting. The frosting was super vanilla-y but also very sweet. I would have preferred a meringue buttercream (or maybe that lemon juice would have made all the difference).
I have to agree that this cake gave off boxed-cake-mix vibes. And it's so easy to make -- there's no reason to use the boxed stuff when the homemade version is so simple.
Recipe: "Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting" from Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi.