This cake is an old-fashioned cake, just like grandma used to make. It’s moist and sweet with a buttery icing that makes it irresistible. I love how simple it is to make with just a few quality ingredients and no special kitchen gadgets. Tray bake recipes are perfect for summer! Add a few blueberries and strawberries for a beautiful flag cake!
With a hand-held electric beater or whisk (if you want a good workout), cream together a stick of soft butter with a cup of granulated sugar. Add vanilla extract and two large eggs. Beat until creamy, about two minutes.
Alternate mixing the sifted flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. So add a third of the flour and when the flour is just incorporated, add half the buttermilk. Repeat step alternating between flour and buttermilk and mixing just to combined. If using a standalone mixer like I did, scrape the sides of the bowl down after incorporating each ingredient.
Pour and spread evenly into a prepared 9X13 baking tray and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven. My cake was done at 25 minutes. The cake will be golden, moist and spring back when you touch it, similar to a sponge cake.
While the cake bakes, start the icing. This icing has clarified butter (ghee). What’s clarified butter? Clarified butter is what remains when the water and milk solids have been removed from whole butter. This step is very important and gives the icing its buttery flavor.
Melt a stick of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. As the butter melts, lower the heat to low. As the liquid evaporates, you’ll see the milk solids start to form. Stir continuously so the milk solids don’t burn. Turn off the heat and let the solids completely settle to the bottom before transferring to a Pyrex cup or your storage container. Yield 1/2 cup.
In a mixing bowl, combine the clarified butter with buttermilk. You’ll add 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, but you’re going to add them a cup at a time. Half way, add corn syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. When it’s all combined, beat on high for a minutes to ensure it is well blended and fluffy. The icing will be done before the cake comes out of the oven.
I love to pour the icing right over the warm cake and smoothing it over the cake and to the edges. The warm cake soaks up the icing making this sheet pan cake a melt-in-your-mouth delicious cake!
Note: I didn’t take any pictures because I had too much going on and a low battery, so I set the phone to charge.
Since I was making a flag cake for our 4th of July celebration, I only poured a third of the icing over the warm cake. I grabbed a handful of blueberries and strawberries to make the flag design and piped the remaining icing with a star tip. Get the kids involved and have them decorate the cake – have the strawberries already hulled and cut for smaller children. What a festive cake to celebrate our country! Happy birthday America!
Old Fashioned Vanilla Sheet Cake
An old-fashioned moist vanilla sheet cake with buttery icing like grandma used to make.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1¼ cups self-rising flour, sifted
- ½ cup whole milk buttermilk
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk buttermilk
- 4½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons corn syrup prefer Karo brand
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
Optional Flag Decorations
- strawberries, hulled and halved
Pre heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9X13 baking tray.
Making the Batter
In a mixing bowl, combine a soft stick of butter with a cup of granulated sugar. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla and two large eggs. Beat together until creamy, about 2 minutes.
Alternate adding self-rising flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with self-rising flour. Mix each addition just until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Pour into prepared baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Check the cake at 25 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the center. If the toothpick is clean, remove the cake from the oven. Cake will be golden and spring back like a sponge cake.
Making the Icing
Clarify a stick of butter. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly until the water evaporates and the milk solids begin to settle at the bottom. Pour into a Pyrex cup the clarified butter and discard the milk solids. Yield ½ cup.
In a mixing bowl, combine ½ cup of clarified butter with ½ cup buttermilk. Add a cup of powdered sugar at a time and mix until combined. After two cups of powdered sugar, add 2 Tablespoons of corn syrup, 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract and a pinch of kosher salt. Continue mixing the powdered sugar until all 4½ cups have been combined. Beat on high for a minutes to break up any lumps and ensure a fluffy icing.
Spread about ⅓ of the icing over the warm cake. Use a spatula to spread it to the corners.
Create "stars and stripes" with blueberries and strawberries.
Pipe the remaining icing to finish the flag decor.
Adapted from Phyllis Stokes, southernfrugal.com – cooking videos on YouTube