*** IMPORTANT: This recipe is ONLY for people who live in high altitudes! And should work or be a good starting point for altitudes of 4,000-6,000. This is calculated for 5,200 (Denver). For a regular vanilla cake recipe, check out Kara’s Perfect Vanilla Cake!

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High Altitude (5000 ft) Vanilla Bean Cake by: Lisa Herrera
After many trials and errors, I have finally found a vanilla cake that works for me here in the Denver area at 5280 feet elevation. I adapted Liz Marek's vanilla cake, and after finding my perfect formula, I have a tried and true friend for life. The mixing process is a little tricky, but it is similar to Kara's perfect white cake. If you like a tall cake, you will need to double this recipe and your cooking time will be closer to 50-60 minutes. Don't be discouraged if it doesn't turn out the first time. Baking in this altitude can be tricky, and has many variables. So tweak things here and there if you need to. Now bake away!
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Type of Recipe Cake, White/Vanilla
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30-45 minutes
Type of Recipe Cake, White/Vanilla
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30-45 minutes
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
  1. Heat oven to 345 degrees (check you oven temp with an oven thermometer) and prep your pans. I use a parchment collar for taller cakes, and also baking strips for added assurance of even baking.
  2. Measure the liquid in a bowl, give it a little whisk and set it aside.
  3. Measure out dry ingredients in your mixer bowl.
  4. With your paddle attachment on the lowest speed, slowly add your softened butter a little at a time. Mix until it looks like coarse sand. It should also hold its shape like wet sand when you squeeze it in your hands.
  5. Add 1/3 of wet ingredients while your mixer is on low speed, just until it is moistened. Don’t add too much liquid.
  6. Stop and scrape your bowl, then increase your mixer speed to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Let mixture whip until it has become thick and the color has lightened. It is important not to over or under mix at this stage.
  7. Stop and scrape your bowl, then on low/medium speed, slowly add the rest of your wet ingredients a little at a time, stopping halfway through to scrape your bowl. Your batter should be a little thick and not runny.
  8. Now it’s time to fill your pans. This recipe will fill 2-8’ pans 2/3 of the way. But only 1-8’ pan ¾ filled, if you are like me and want a tall cake. And if you do, make sure to double your recipe. Also, be mindful of your baking times depending on your batter amount.
  9. I like to use a scale to measure out my batter evenly (Can you say OCD!) you can just eyeball it of course. I also like to bang my pans on the counter a few times. This will help bring those pesky air bubbles to the surface. Warning: Your family will hate you for this.
  10. Now bake! I have found if you don’t bake it long enough for the cake to set, you are likely to get a sunken middle. We hate that! So don’t be tempted to open your oven door. Use your oven light to keep an eye on it. I will normally bake ¾ of the way through before checking on it.
  11. When I do check on it, if it still wiggles, I add another 7 minutes. Why 7 minutes? Because its more than 5, but not quite 10…lol Check it every couple of minutes till the cake is done. And you know it's done when a skewer comes out of the middle with just a few crumbs, or they release from the pan easily.
  12. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then turn it over onto a baking rack and let it cool completely.
  13. Your cake should be tender and have a nice tight crumb, great for layered and sculpted cakes.
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  1. Rsweetart 2 years ago

    Hello I just upgrade my subcription, and I would love Lisa Herrera recipe, how can I get it.
    Thank you

  2. Rocio 2 years ago

    Hello Thank you for your respond
    I am in Florida

    • Avalon Cakes 2 years ago

      Flordia is close too sea level, I would try Kara’s recipe that i linked before 🙂

  3. Jacqueline Caughey 2 years ago

    I am at 7500 feet. I have struggled with vanilla cake at this altitude so I am excited to try this!

  4. Laila Sayed Ibrahem 2 years ago

    Hi I am from Egypt I well try this one i love it

  5. Anne 2 years ago

    Do you think this recipe would work down in the Springs. Or up in the Springs if your speaking elevation wise. Lol. I’ve been trying white cakes for years and they always fall!!

  6. Author
    Lisa Herrera 2 years ago

    Anne…This recipe should work just fine in the Springs. A great tip is to check your oven temp with an oven thermometer. I was getting very frustrated with the sinking in the middle, and ended up checking my oven and it was almost 20 degrees off! Makes a big difference. Also, I found patience is key. As much as you want open that oven door, let your cakes bake at least 3/4 of the way through before opening the oven door to check on them. I hope you have great success with this recipe as I have and I am happy to help you in any way I can.

  7. nydia mercado 2 years ago

    I’m moving to Hawaii currently living in seattle should I make this recipe?

    • Avalon Yarnes 2 years ago

      Depends on where in Hawaii you are.. I think the mean altitude is like 3,000 there which requires only small alternations in recipes… if you are higher up, around 5k, then yes definitely give this a go!

  8. Jen 1 year ago

    Lisa, I’m just outside of salt lake city. I think the altitude is about 4500, is that close enough?

    Also, I am making orange flavor & strawberry flavor wedding cupcakes. Have you ever attempted cupcakes with this recipe?

    And would you recommend using extracts in those flavors? I’ve been practicing with dry jello in the mix as well as pureed fruit. I haven’t tried using extracts yet.


  9. Author
    Lisa Herrera 1 year ago

    Hi Jen!
    I think That altitude is close enough. I’m not much for cupcakes, but should be fine.
    I think extracts are a great way to flavor your cake batter without changing the consistency of your batter. Flavored powders work well also. If I were making orange flavor, I would sub some liquid for orange juice, a little extract, and add some zest of the orange.
    I think with trying new recipes, especially for an order, there should be plenty of practice before hand. Find a good recipe base that works well for you and change up the flavors with that base.
    Every recipe can vary depending on your oven, your environment, the overall atmosphere of your kitchen…so many variables. So I recommend getting to know your oven (if you don’t already) feel comfortable with a base cake and modify as you see fit. You got this!

  10. Emily 12 months ago

    I live at almost 10,000 ft (in the Andes Mtns). What further changes (if any) would you recommend?

  11. Sheri 11 months ago

    Will this high altitude cake recipe work for cupcakes? I live at 4100′

  12. Heather 9 months ago

    I’m at 6035 feet. Will this recipe work here?? I need a good vanilla cake recipe that doesn’t crumble or sink.

    • Avalon Yarnes 9 months ago

      This recipe will be a good start for you! I’d try this and then if you’re not happy, you may need to alter some by a bit I’d start but reducing the leveners (baking soda, baking powder) and maybe increase the liquids.

  13. Mimi 8 months ago

    I live in Lakewood and have been frustrated for years trying to make a vanilla cake. I have no problem with chocolate!! What I want to know – are your measurements in weight or volume?

  14. Daw 8 months ago

    I have successfully baked a cake at high altitude thanks to your recipe. I’m incredibly grateful. My next question is about colouring the cake. If I add a bunch of dye to make it a true blue… will it need to be tweeked?

    I’ve been trying to bake a good cake for 2 years and have failed. Delicious, yes, but Texas was a lot more forgiving on measuring than here. Took me 6 tries to get my own cookie recipe to work here D: But I finally did. Thank You <3

    • Avalon Yarnes 8 months ago

      I would add it to the liquid measurement first, then add you liquid, so it is part of the liquid measurement 🙂

  15. Heather Berry 8 months ago

    Your recipe doesn’t say egg whites only, but I had the understanding that that’s what makes a white cake vs a yellow cake. Please clarify?

    • Avalon Yarnes 8 months ago

      Yep! You can use yolk if you prefer a more yellow type of cake.

  16. Wendy 8 months ago

    Hi! I’m excited to try your recipe. I live in Steamboat Springs and have always struggled with cakes! I’ll be using this recipe for standard size cupcakes – any suggestions on cooking time?