Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake + bethcakes birthday!

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake -
To be honest, I really don’t like the word “blogiversary.” It’s kind of a silly word. But it’s one more reason to celebrate with cake, so who cares, right?

So instead I’ll just say, Y’ALL. Bethcakes is a year old!!

I’ve been wanting to make this Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake for awhile, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to step back from all the fruity drinks and patriotic things and finally make it.

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake -
While I’ve been blogging here at bethcakes for a year, I blogged for about two-and-a-half years at my previous blog, The Collegiate Baker. But about a year ago I switched the name and blogging platforms, and that was when I decided to get serious about blogging and posting consistently.

I would say the one thing that has improved the most over the past year is my photography. A lot. But I think it’s also the thing I struggle with the most. And styling. I don’t have a lot of space for props right now, which is probably better for my wallet anyway. 😉 My writing and recipe development have definitely improved too, but photography is like an on-going thing. When I look over a blog post after publishing, I usually find myself thinking, “Wellll, they’re okay.” Haha. Honestly, most of my photos look a little gray to me. I just feel like I’m not quite there yet.

I realize this is something most food bloggers deal with, and I know that I’m really hard on myself. And I compare myself and my blog to other people and their blogs, which is probably the biggest problem. Really, I know I need to practice more. Play with my camera more. Maybe actually read the manual and watch the dvd that came in the box. These things just take time. Which I haven’t really had a lot of recently, and that’s probably why I feel a little frustrated with it at the moment.

BUT. There has been improvement and that’s what matters. And thank you to the wonderful people who leave comments complimenting my photos because that’s really encouraging and reassuring. 🙂 ♥

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake -
But enough of that–now we’re going to talk about something very positive. Liiiike this cake.

This maybe the fluffiest cake I’ve ever made. When it comes to white and yellow cakes, I haven’t found my “perfect” recipe yet. Which is weird because they’re so basic. Whenever I make them from scratch or try to develop my own recipe, they’re always really dense, dry, and not very tasty. There are tons of “The Best White Cake” recipes out there that I still need to try, though.

So I was really excited when this vanilla bean cake turned out the way it did. Fluffy, moist, very vanilla-y. I kind of want to put vanilla bean seeds and bourbon in everything now. Don’t be surprised if you see it on the blog again soon!

Most of the inspiration for this cake came from Sweetapolita. She is totally one of my cake heroes. Incredible recipes and flavor combinations, and so perfectly decorated. Like, gah. The prettiest things!

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake -
This super-moist vanilla cake is covered in bourbon vanilla bean frosting. That’s where the bourbon comes in. Oh yeah. It’s good.

It started with a Southern Living recipe, but it didn’t look like it would make enough to cover a three layer cake. And really, I almost always double the amount of frosting a recipe calls for because somehow I always always always run out of it. But this should cover the filling between the layers, the outside of the cake, and you should have some leftover to pipe around the edges.

Oh, also, the cake layers are brushed with more bourbon before they are frosted. Do with that what you will.

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake -
Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake


    vanilla bean cake:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • bourbon vanilla bean frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 3 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray three 8 inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line them with parchment paper.
  2. In one bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Carefully stir together.
  3. In a large bowl with a hand-held electric mixer, beat butter on medium high speed until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla bean seeds and mix until they're evenly distributed throughout the butter.
  4. Next, add the sugar and mix until completely incorporated and fluffy.
  5. Then add the eggs whites and mix until just combined.
  6. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on medium speed until just combined. Repeat with the second half of the flour and milk, and mix until completely combined.
  7. Transfer cake batter to the prepared pans, and bake for 19-21 minutes, or until slightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake layer comes out clean.
  8. Let cake layers cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then let them cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Once cake layers are cool, brush 1/4 cup bourbon over the top of each layer.
  10. frosting:
  11. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla bean seeds and mix until they're evenly spread throughout.
  12. Add the salt, whipping cream, and bourbon. Mix until combined.
  13. Then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix on medium speed for another minute.
  14. Spread frosting over cake layers, and over the cake. If you have some leftover frosting, you can use it to pipe decorations around the cake.
  15. Enjoy!

All photos belong to bethcakes. Please do not use them without permission or credit. Thanks!

Recipe adapted from Sweetapolita + frosting adapted from Southern Living.

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake -

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  • I love your pictures, Beth! I struggle with pictures too, but we are our worst critics, for sure. Keep up the great work and happy “blogiversary!”

  • Happy 1 year Beth! I’m with you on the struggle with photography. It’s hard! But I think your photos are great! And this cake sounds to die for 🙂

    • Thanks, Julia! It’s definitely a work in progress for me. Thanks for your sweet comment and I think your photos are great!

  • Happy blogiversary! You have me at fluffy vanilla cake. I think I need to make this thing. And Beth, you are one of the most talented food photographers I know! Keep it up!

  • Beth – congrats on 1 year. You are doing things with your blog I wish I were doing. 🙂 Now, about that cake; the cake part is super tasty – that with a glass of milk would be super. The vanilla bean frosting is so nice; you can see the little vanilla bean specks in it. 🙂

    • Thanks and glad you liked the cake! And I don’t know what you’re talking about, you totally do awesome things with your blog!

  • Beth–happy blog birthday!! This cake looks like the perfect way to celebrate (and your photos make me want to dive right in)! Photography seems like it has such a massive learning curve but your photos are always SO drool-worthy 🙂

  • We are definitely our own worst critics, because I could barely read your post I was so busy staring at the pictures!! I think they’re gorgeous and the styling is adorable. I love anything with bourbon…can’t wait to try this! 🙂

  • This is the perfect cake to celebrate a first birthday!! Happy first year to bethcakes!! You are my kindred cake lover and I always look forward to your posts 🙂 I love your photography too and always your cake decorations!! We have the same cake crush…Sweetapolita 🙂

    • Haha, I definitely remember you saying something about loving Sweetapolita! Can’t wait until her book comes out. 🙂 And thanks for the comment, you’re so sweet!

  • Yay for 1 year! And I hear ya on the comparison – I need to stop doing it but it can be just sooooo hard!

    And I must make this. I love this base recipe for vanilla cake (I use it all the time) but with the bourbon … my husband would love love this!

    • Glad I’m not the only one, Ashley! I catch myself doing it all the time. But the cake–bourbon definitely makes it better! 🙂

  • Congrats on one year, Beth! It has been a blast following along. I always love stopping by and seeing what delicious recipes you have come up with. A bourbon vanilla bean cake sounds like the perfect way to celebrate!

  • I am seriously obsessed with each and every one of these photos. They are so cute and I love the vintage feel of the newspaper and recipe with all the ingredients 🙂 Have I told you yet – you make THE prettiest cakes ever! Pinned 🙂

  • Happy one year blog birthday, Beth! You’re a total pro, girl. All of your photos are GORGEOUS and your recipes are mouthwatering. It’s like you read my mind – I have a new bottle of bourbon at home and I’ve been searching for cocktail recipes. I can add this incredible, fluffy cake to that list. It’s funny – a lot of what you wrote here is so similar to what I just posted about yesterday. How I look at everyone else’s amazing blogs and feel so inferior because my recipes/photos/styling/etc isn’t up to par. But we can all only be the best that we can be. Honestly, Beth, I love your blog. You kick ass, lady! Celebrate with lots of cake and have a fantastic 4th of July celebratory weekend.

  • Happy one year Beth! Your recipes are always so beautiful (and they always make me hungry). This is the perfect way to celebrate! Love the sound of this lovely cake! Thank you for sharing all that you do!

  • Happy blogiversary!! I’m so glad to have found your blog and to have become a blogging friend–I love your creations and think you do a beautiful job. This cake is definitely the perfect way to celebrate. 🙂

  • Hi there, this cake looks delicious and I am planning to make it for a friends bridal shower. I am wondering how I might adjust the baking time if all I have on hand are two 9″ cake pans instead of the required 8″ pans?

    Thank you!