Plain Ol’Vanilla

My old cooking range had served me faithfully for more than 20 years. As much as it had seen many successes and failures of my experiments, it was time for me to let it go. It was one of the first things that I told my husband I needed, even before we got married. “Why do you need a cooking range?” he asked me. People around just could not comprehend why I did not buy a simple table top gas stove to cook with. To cut a long story short, I had my way and my cooking adventures which had started well before thoughts of marriage had even ย entered my head, continued unabated.


Now after 20 long years however, it was time to look for alternatives. I had decided on a built-in oven and my long suffering husband had no objections this time. He knew me well. Clothes and jewelry had no attraction for me. But talk about an oven, or even baking pans, my eyes would light up and sparkle. And so this new oven came into my life. As I looked at my beauty and admired her clean lines (Yes she is a girl) I was debating what would be my first bake. Should I make a bread? some cookies maybe –macarons would be perfect to test out the oven. After debating for a while, I decided on plain ol’vanilla cake. Simple and unfailing, easy to check out the various settings, the unfussy vanilla would be the perfect blank slate.


That decided, I kept going back to a super simple vanilla cake, an eggless one at that. I remember my mother making it for us when we were young. She would just pull out ingredients from the pantry and put them together. It had no condensed milk, carbonated beverage or even butter. Yet, it was one of the best cakes I had tasted. It was soft and spongy, sturdy enough to be iced and filled, cut well and did not crumble. It was moist and did not become hard when stored. She would vary it by adding cocoa or some nuts and sometimes a touch of cinnamon would liven things up. I remember waiting eagerly for the cake to cool so she would cut me a slice.


That’s it! It was decided. Eggless vanilla it was to be. I did ask my mother where she got the recipe from and typically, as with most mothers, she had no idea. “A lot of us used to bake this cake because it was so simple,” she said. “I might have made some changes and then again maybe not”. I decided to let things be. It can just remain one of those classics that I would not tamper with. Who am I to question this? I will just bake the cake, test the oven and then eat the cake. After all the proof was in the eating right?



1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour

3/4 cup Sugar

1 cup Thick plain curd/yogurt

1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking soda

1/4 tsp Salt

1 to 2 tsp Vanilla extract

1/2 cup Oil



  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C and grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan.
  2. Whiz your sugar in a blender if the granules are coarse (as you can see I did not and the little spots on the surface is proof of that)
  3. Beat the sugar and yogurt well until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Add the baking powder and baking soda to the yogurt and mix well. Make sure that there are no lumps of the raising agent. You will slowly see the mixture starting to froth.
  5. Mix in the salt, vanilla, and oil.
  6. Fold in the flour with gentle strokes until well combined.
  7. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until done.
  8. Cool in the pan for at least 10 to 15 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.


IMG_3335You could create different cakes like my mother did. Remove a couple of spoonfuls of flour and add in cocoa, nuts and spices, or even the zest of lime or orange. The combinations are endless. Try your favourite and let me know where your imagination led you.


30 thoughts on “Plain Ol’Vanilla

  1. Your new oven is a boon for vegetarian bakers. Lovely cake. Will bake this weekend for sure. Hoping to get more veg. baking goodies thru your new oven.


  2. Harini, if I add carrots in it, should I reduce the quantity of curd in half and one cup grated carrots would be enough with all ingredients.


    1. I would not reduce the quantity of curd in the recipe. Especially since it is the liquid and acts as a leaving reacting with the baking soda. You could try adding grated carrot to the batter but make sure you maintain the consistency. You might however have a slightly denser cake.


  3. Hi ,
    I swapped half proportion of oats in the maida, then replaced palm sugar instead of sugar and added frozen cranberries on top. It came out well. Served it with peach preserve on top. Was yummy.thx for the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Harini, followed your advice and didn’t reduce the quantity of curd, cake came out excellent. Thank you very much. Please keep on posting eggless recipes also along with your wonderful breads. Will be following you.


  5. Hi Harini, if I want to make an orange cake with this recipe, could I replace say half the yoghurt with orange juice? Would it give similar texture?


    1. Yes you could. Make sure the yoghurt you use then is a little thick not not too watery. So that way you will still maintain the dropping consistency of the batter. To get a really nice orange flavour add the zest of 1 orange to the batter. My next recipe will be an orange cake which I am currently working on.


    1. You totally will need to adjust the baking time. A loaf pan will take a little longer. So make sure it is fine before you take it out. If the top starts browning fast, cover with a foil to prevent burning


      1. Yes I should say that is fine. The baking time totally depends on the pan. So please make sure the cake is done before you take it out. If you find the top is browning to fast, cover with a foil and continue to bake until done.


  6. Hello Harini,

    I do love your blog and came across this blog where you bought a new built in oven. I was looking for a good table top oven and if possible could you suggest a few good brands.I own a morphy richards which has served me well, but heard many complaints regarding the larger one. Please do respond when you get the time ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks in advance ๐Ÿ™‚

    Shahena Abbas On Jan 12, 2016 6:57 PM, “Ladles and Whisks” wrote:

    > Harini posted: “My old cooking range had served me faithfully for more > than 20 years. As much as it had seen many successes and failures of my > experiments, it was time for me to let it go. It was one of the first > things that I told my husband I needed, even before we got” >


    1. Shahena I wish I could help you out but I have no idea about table top ovens. The name that keeps coming up is sunflame, bajaj and MR. As to how good they are I am in no position to comment.


  7. Hi Harini!
    Came across your vanilla sponge recipe on HBG as I was looking for an eggless recipe. What a find it is!
    I threw in a box of fresh sliced strawberries and the cake came out superb! I didnt reduce the quantity of flour, may be I should have coz the cake was a bit dense. Or that could be coz I used whole wheat flour.
    But regardless, the cake was very good. It was 50 anniv bake for my inlaws who had never cut a cake for their anniv before and they both loved it. My son wants me to make the same cake for his birthday later this month.
    I was wondering if I could add strawberry puree to it next time to give it a more enhanced strawberry flavor and color. All the strawberry cake recipes that I am finding online have either strawberry jello or coloring.
    But regardless, thank you for this keeper of a recipe.


    1. Whole wheat will make the cake more dense. Of course you could add strawberry puree. I suggest that you make the puree concentrated and use really thick curd and mix the two to get the required quantity of curd.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello Haring !

    I tried it today and it came out well! ..just that it was all white in colour. .why do you think it is white? The skewer was clean but after cooling it is sticking at last when bit. The texture is great. Pls help


  9. Hi harini,

    This recipe is a winner.. So easy.. Light and fluffy. Loved baking this.. I am gonna save this and try flavors..


  10. This is a wonderful recipe! Can you tell me how much does this yield? I need to make approx 1.5 kg cake for a family gathering. And I am planning to make it a marble cake. How much amount of ingredients should I add to this?


    1. Are you planning to serve it plain? Then you might need 2 recipes. If you are going to layer and frost with ganache one recipe will yield roughly close to 1 kg. With whipped cream it will be less.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s