Vanilla Wedding Cake

March 7, 2014
Vanilla Wedding Cake - This 19th-century classic is the mother of so many American cakes.   If you have only one cake recipe in your repertoire, this should be it

Dr. Laura, whether you love her or hate her, she had a heck of a good call this week


Photo Credit: Fine Art America

Jump to Recipe

The topic?

Self Discipline

For the third time, I hit the back button on the podcast in iTunes, while re-reading an older email, from a dear friend and mentor who coaches me when my life/food/balance is starting to slip.  Her words to me when I confessed to not doing what I knew I should

“Do you know why?  Is it that you're not hungry?  Or that you're distracted?  Your only weakness is that you allow others to disrupt your rhythm.  Never forget to protect your habits and rituals the way you protect anything else that's important to you.”

She probably doesn't know it, but I carry those words with me; written on a notecard in my bag

Vanilla Wedding Cake - This nineteenth-century classic is the mother of so many American cakes. If you could have only one cake recipe in your repertoire, this should be it.

“Self Discipline, you don't find it anywhere. Instead, one practices it”    ~ Dr. Laura

The caller, a college student, was having trouble focusing on school.  Life had taken a left turn at Albuquerque, and she'd pretty much unplugged.  I waited for her list of problems, of course, once the problems were solved, the rest would naturally fall into place.  Not so much ..

“So why do you think everyone else was able to get their school work done, in spite of their own distractions?”  Self Discipline

“Which do you want to do, go on and on about all the distractions?  Or talk about how you cave in?”  Ouch

“This is an important question.  Do you believe that our conversation about how to persist through things that are distracting, would change based on what the distraction was?”  Not so much

Vanilla Wedding Cake - This nineteenth-century classic is the mother of so many American cakes. If you could have only one cake recipe in your repertoire, this should be it.

I pushed pause and sat quietly, staring at my screen.  It could just as easily have been me calling to complain about the things that get in the way of eating well and caring for myself.  The woman whose life has been an open book, reflected in the size of her behind.  When it's going well, I'm ok.  When it's not, well, it's no secret sugar has been my drug of choice.

I read from my notecard.  “Your only weakness is that you allow others to disrupt your rhythm.  Never forget to protect your habits and rituals the way you protect anything else that's important to you.”

“And so the question will be: Can you persist through them?  This will ultimately make the difference between somebody who is successful & ultimately happy and someone who's ultimately not successful and not happy?”    ~ Dr. Laura
Vanilla Wedding Cake - This nineteenth-century classic is the mother of so many American cakes. If you could have only one cake recipe in your repertoire, this should be it.

But Dr. Laura wasn't done just yet

“What mattered most is when something upset you, your response was to stop.  When there are obligations and responsibilities, you have to follow through.  Plus, now you've developed the attitude that when horrible things happen, you screw yourself over in other ways.

No matter what it was, no matter how horrible it was, you have to rise above it and move on anyway.  Don't you?  Or else you let it win.  Bad guys and bad luck won.  They took out your life.   You shouldn't give up on yourself that easily.  The bigger lesson for you is to fight through it.”

So very well said

Wedding Flowers

Photo Credit:

For my friend and mentor, who nudges me ever so gently, to be kind to myself, to have the discipline to keep going on this journey of feeding myself well and moving some every day.  Thank you

“You shouldn't give up on yourself that easily”   ~ Dr. Laura

The day we got married, she brought us a cake.  For the longest time, I couldn't bring myself to cut into it.  The idea of someone thinking of us and taking the time to create something so beautiful overshadowed any desire to actually eat it

Until one night we opened a bit of bubbly, cut a sliver or two, toasted to her, and to ourselves.  We performed the same ritual for many more evenings until finally there was an empty spot in the freezer where cake used to be

She shared the recipe



Vanilla Wedding Cake - This nineteenth-century classic is the mother of so many American cakes. If you could have only one cake recipe in your repertoire, this should be it.

~ The Dr. Laura podcast – March 4th, Hour 3

— — —

~ Adapted from The Family Baker, or here 

Vanilla Wedding Cake


  • Cake
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs (large or XL)
  • 4 large egg whites (could omit and use 4 eggs above)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk

  • Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp milk


  • Cake
  • Preheat oven to 350° F and position rack in the center
  • Butter and flour pans
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt
  • In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until well blended
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat well...scrape down bowl and beater to make sure all is mixed before next addition
  • With the mixer on lowest speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk. Scrape down again and beat until thoroughly incorporated
  • Divide mixture into pans and bake for 30-40 minutes (will take less time if using white all-purpose flour in place of whole wheat) until a toothpick comes out of center clean. cool on a wire rack in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

  • Buttercream Frosting
  • Cream butter
  • Add vanilla and mix well
  • With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • After all, has been incorporated, add 2 Tbso milk. check for desired consistency and add a bit more milk as needed
Serves: 24
Nutrition + Show
Calories 385
Total Fat 17.1g
Saturated Fat 10.2g
Carbohydrates 55.6g
Fiber 3g
Sugars 37.2g
Protein 4.7g
Print This Recipe

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  • Reply Basil of Love March 11, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Ali, thank you for this post! Somehow it is exactly what i needed to read today. Thank you, friend! This cake looks beautiful.

  • Reply Sabine January 25, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Beautiful post, it’s like a poem! That cake looks delicious and the recipe is a challenge for me 🙂 self discipline is very important if you want to achieve something in life 🙂

  • Reply Kimberly January 25, 2017 at 5:33 am

    Aww! I love this post. Have always wanted to make a small wedding cake for my husband and mine’s for our anniversaries, but couldn’t find a recipe I liked. Your recipe sounds delicious so I think I will give it a try!

  • Reply Sarah January 25, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I was expecting a post just on making a cake but got so much more. Persistence really is the key between failure and success!

  • Reply Sarah January 25, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I was expecting a post just on making a cake but got so much more. Persistence really is the key between failure and success!

  • Reply Lee Anne January 25, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Such a lovely post, truly. And a cake recipe on top of it, so good!

    Lee Anne

  • Reply Freya January 25, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Self-discipline in my life is not eating through boredom but hunger, with the odd treat here and there. This cake looks delicious might I add!

  • Reply Ana January 25, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I definitely need to practice self-discipline. I like how this was more than just a recipe post but a story as well!

  • Reply Mytha January 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    The cake looks soooo good. Beautiful post by the way!

    • Reply sexyveggie January 25, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Thank-you Mytha

  • Reply Cori January 25, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    5 stars
    This was a great post, my self discipline is definitely lacking. This cake however looks amazing.

  • Reply Elizabeth O. January 25, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    This is such a lovely and inspiring post about getting fit and being healthy. There will always be distractions, like the tons of chocolate sitting on shelf when you buy groceries, but you can always look the other way and just keep pushing your cart towards the healthier ingredients. I really enjoyed reading this and my favorite line is, “You shouldn’t give up on yourself that easily.” It’s a line that will stay stuck in my mind for as long as I can use it.

    • Reply sexyveggie January 25, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      Thank-you so much Elizabeth for your kind words

  • Reply Desiree January 25, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    5 stars
    This post is amazing.
    That cake! Oh my!!!

    • Reply Sarah Bailey June 23, 2017 at 10:16 am

      The cake sounds absolutely amazing doesn’t it, the perfect idea for a wedding cake for sure.

  • Reply Desiree January 25, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    5 stars
    Love this post! Everything looks amazing , and that cake!

  • Reply Ruthie January 26, 2017 at 1:06 am

    This cake looks like a dream!! YUM!!

  • Reply Carrie January 26, 2017 at 1:45 am

    Such a beautiful cake. Wedding Cake is one of my favorite types of cakes. I also love the quotes you provided. I am definitely working hard on improving my health and some of the above quotes especially the one about not giving up are perfect to keep me motivated and going.

  • Reply Jules January 27, 2017 at 10:14 am

    You are very lucky to have a mentor who can guide you! Plus, that cake looks amazing!

  • Reply Борка Шаула January 27, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I haven’t heard anything more simple or true for a really long time. I mean, when my rituals and habits are disrupted, I tend to eat as well, I tend not to do all those things I should and I have to find a way to go back on track when my day goes wrong.
    BS, xx

  • Reply Jennifer January 28, 2017 at 1:08 am

    5 stars
    omg how gorgeous is this wedding cake! And it seems so easy to do. Wow

  • Reply Surekha January 29, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Omg! I love vanilla it’s my favorite flavor. This cake looks super yum! Pinning it

  • Reply Ana January 30, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    5 stars
    I love the way how you’ve written this post! Just by reading the title of this post, I became hungry and then after seeing your pictures, I felt like grabbing it from my laptop right now. The cake looks incredibly delicious and thanks for sharing the recipe. Though I know very well that I couldn’t make it as shown in your pictures!

  • Reply Ekow February 1, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    Wow, my wife is a caterer and wouldn’t be bad if she tries it for our 2nd anniversary. will show u after she does it

  • Reply Anton February 2, 2017 at 6:07 am

    What a fantastic idea for a wedding anniversary surprise! Thanks, Alison. I’ll definitely be giving this one a go.

  • Reply Mary February 2, 2017 at 7:34 am

    What an adorable cake! This is perfect for an anniversary. I love the little pearls.

  • Reply Kim June 22, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Such a simple, yet very beautiful cake. As others have said, I thought I was going to read a recipe, but your story was very touching. Butter cream frosting is the BEST!!!

  • Reply Jeanette June 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

    I think self-discipline is important. I know that I have a lot of self-discipline because I work at home and it is very easy to not do it when you’re at home. There is definitely more I can learn in even get more focused than what I am now. This is a great post to remind me of this.

  • Reply Laura June 22, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Self discipline is very important although for me, it is my nemesis. I lived with anorexia for 17 years due to taking self discipline to another level with my eating. Now I am very relaxed about self discipline, I eat chocolate every single day, but I am also mindful of my health.

  • Reply Lori Vachon June 22, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Personally I think sometimes we do give up on ourselves too easily. Pushing through and persevering is key to moving forward in life, good or bad! And now…I’d like a slice of that cake! 🙂

  • Reply Christy Maurer June 22, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Sugar is my weakness too. I know it is about self-discipline, of which I have very little! Thanks for sharing your struggles too. Now I need cake…..

  • Reply Marysa June 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Those are great thoughts on self-discipline. Everyone is so different, but it does take effort. Such a nice story about the gift of the wedding cake.

  • Reply Chelsea June 22, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Beautifully written. I love the idea of having little notecards with words of wisdom on. It’d be like having a little pep talk whenever I wanted.

  • Reply Melanie June 22, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    How bad is it that I do not remember what flavor take that I had at my wedding? I think that it was Vanilla with white icing. This is a lovely cake. I like the color of the topper, as well.

    • Reply Melanie June 22, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      Cake not take!

  • Reply Pam June 22, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Self discipline can be a touchy subject, but it’s really important. You need to take care of important things first.

  • Reply Claudia Krusch June 22, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    I have been working on my self-discipline. I set reminders to go off during the day so I do not get lost in my work. The cake looks so delicious. I bet it was nice to finally eat it.

  • Reply Censie Sawyer June 22, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Oh self discipline. It is rough for me certain days. I know the feeling of getting lost in my lists and not accomplishing what needs to be done. THat cake looks amazing. Almost too pretty to eat….almost!!

  • Reply Lisa Favre June 22, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Yep, self-discipline is definitely a trait that I need to work on! The way you wrote this and your experience was done so beautifully. I love how the story just unfolded – was totally unexpected!

  • Reply Tina Butler June 23, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Such a beautiful and inspiring post! Wedding cake is my favorite cake and this one is so simple looking yet elegant and beautiful.

  • Reply Margarette June 23, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Your post is quite worth reading. In betweens there will always be self distractions. But what matters is that you should have that self discipline to know you should stand.

  • Reply Jenell June 23, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Self-discipline is us following through with the decisions we make and keeping ourselves grounded. This is the post I needed to get my butt in the gym tomorrow! Lol

  • Reply Lisa June 23, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Discipline is something I have been struggling with lately too. I let too many people invade what time I have set aside for work, play etc.

  • Reply Debra J Hawkins June 23, 2017 at 1:18 am

    I go back and forth on Dr. Laura, but I really think, like this, she has some great things to say! Persistence is the key to almost everything!

  • Reply Betty June 23, 2017 at 1:19 am

    This is such a beautiful post about believing yourself and keep striving for your goals. Don’t ever give up! The cake looks delicious though I can never pull off making a cake that pretty!

  • Reply Ania June 23, 2017 at 5:27 am

    I need to work on my self-discipline. I would have cut right into that cake because I have none haha. But there is something sentimental about it that someone thought of you when making it. Beautiful cake.

  • Reply Lisa Lisa June 23, 2017 at 7:17 am

    4 stars
    What a great post! Honestly, I really need to work on my self-discipline, it is so difficult at times for me. I also know I need to not give up on myself at times and just move forward. I’ll take a slice of that cake and a cup of coffee…lol!

  • Reply Nikki June 23, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Such an inspirational post! I think we all have distractions that we need to learn to work through, whether they’re literal distractions (like a noisy house) or psychological ones (like constantly worrying about stuff). The cake recipe looks delicious!

  • Reply Melissa Dixon June 23, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I am so guilty of letting others disrupt my rhythm as well. I have a friend that sometimes she tells me things that make sense to me even in the darkest times, she has been there herself. After some serious medical issues that plague my life at 32 I constantly battle with enjoying my life and those words are pretty perfect. I will have to write them down, now she has inspired me too, thank you!

  • Reply Crystal June 23, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Self discipline…. I am certainly not the best at it, but as another poster said it’s required as we work at home. I think there are areas of my life where self discipline is better than others. Dr Pepper and ice cream are two areas I have NO self discipline in. lol

    Love Dr. Laura. Have listened to her for years. Love her nuggets of wisdom.

  • Reply Chubskulit Rose June 23, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Self Discipline is very important in achieving your goals, without it, chances are you will find yourself in disarray at times. You did a great job with the wedding cake.

  • Reply Sarah Bailey June 23, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Self discipline can be my nemesis, I always seem on my mind / to do. I’ll have to try and listen to Dr Laura’s podcasts and see if they help.

  • Reply Brianna June 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Self-discipline is something I have been working on recently for sure. It’s all about setting aside time and energy for all the tasks I need to accomplish and not getting sidetracked.

  • Reply Catalina June 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I like Dr Laura’s saying: “You shouldn’t give up on yourself that easily” ! May be I need to write it somewhere and read it often! Sometimes we loose ourselves on our way!

  • Reply Tatanisha Worthey June 23, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    5 stars
    Wow, what an inspiring story. Self-discipline is one of those things that takes a long time to master and even then, it never feels perfect.

  • Reply Emily June 23, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    5 stars
    I was just having this conversation with my husband, I am extremely self disciplined, which is great most of the time. I want to change something in my life and I decide to do it, no hang ups or thinking about it. But because of this I have a tough time dealing with things where I must wait, where I am at the mercy of circumstance or others timeline. It is a big struggle for sure! Lovely cake by the way!

  • Reply David Elliott June 23, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    I totally agree that you should never give up on yourself easily. I know that so many people give up on all sorts of things. And so they let life defeat them in so many different ways. When we become the people that have harmed us in life, the people who harmed us have won. It is a beautiful story. And I love the story of the cake. I hate digging into something that represented love.

  • Reply Elizabeth O June 24, 2017 at 9:21 am

    5 stars
    Speaking of Dr. Laura, I used to listen to her radio show quite religiously back in the day. Ditto Howard Stern who was outrageous. Over time, I moved on to NPR and left that part of my life behind. I’m glad to see her quotes here….
    Now for that yummilicious wedding cake, it reminded me a little of mine; simple, sophisticated and very satisfying. 🙂

  • Reply Charity Gorman June 24, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    This post is so inspiring and hits right at home with me. Normally I don’t eat many desserts but I don’t always eat the best either. I always try to never give up no matter how hard it might be. Although I don’t eat much desserts I will be saving your recipe for the future, because my fiance loves all things sweet. Thank you for this post.

  • Reply Anosa June 25, 2017 at 2:29 am

    I must confess I didn’t even know I had much self discipline until someone mentioned it to. Regardless of what life threw me I stuck to my guns and went forward but also realised somethings in life will always try to throw you off balance and some will succeed

  • Reply Terri Beavers June 26, 2017 at 8:10 am

    5 stars
    I don’t know if I’d have the patience to wait to taste the cake. What a sweet post and I’m glad you finally decided to try the cake. I’m sure your friend put love into making it and would have wanted you to enjoy it.

  • Reply Adriana June 26, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    You have to believe in yourself because if you don’t, who will?! Great take on this topic – that cake is stunning! I love the detail in it, so pretty.

  • Reply Norah June 27, 2017 at 12:12 am

    I love a beautifully made cake. Even better when it is made with love. Cute you and hubby ate this little by little until it was gone.

  • Reply Jennifer L June 27, 2017 at 3:29 am

    5 stars
    It’s easy to second guess ourselves and to allow the voices serve as further distractions. But exactly what your mentor said…its so important to stay true to ourselves and our paths and not let the many voices disrupt us. A special thank you to your friend for the lovely recipe too!

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