vanilla cake series part 2

This post is the second in my Vanilla Cake Series and will feature my favourite easy recipe from the Not-Quite Scratch category: the Double Take Cake.

As explained in the first post in this series, Not-Quite Scratch refers to a recipe that gets a little help from a pudding mix or flavoured gelatin, but does not involve a boxed cake mix (here is a link to the first post in case you missed it).

Why did I name this cake the Double Take Cake? A friend (who chose to remain nameless) sent me this recipe several years ago and when I first looked it over, I did a double take. A half cup of vodka?! In cake?!


vanilla cake series part 2


A half cup of vodka is equivalent to four 1-oz shots. Now you may not care about a little vodka baked into your cake, but I spoke to quite a few parents who are uncomfortable with even the tiniest amount being served to their children. Recovering alcoholics and those who avoid alcohol completely for religious or ethical reasons would also take issue with this recipe. But really, how much vodka could possibly be left over after baking? Doesn’t the alcohol evaporate completely in the oven? Let’s look to science to answer these questions!

According to the research, it is a total myth that alcohol disappears completely when cooked or baked. 

A study conducted in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 1992 showed that depending upon how the food was cooked, the remaining alcohol content ranged from 4%-85%. “Cooking always results in some, but not total, loss of alcohol.” Augustin J, Augustin E, Cutrufelli RL, Hagen SR, Teitzel C (1992). “Alcohol Retention in Food Preparation”. Journal of the American Dietetic Association92

In another study, nutritionists from Washington State University, the University of Idaho, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture performed experiments to determine the amount of alcohol present in food subsequent to cooking. Long simmering in a pan appeared to be the most effective way to remove alcohol, while baking appeared to be the least effective.1

Alcohol Burn-off Chart – US Department of Agriculture1
Preparation Method Percent of Alcohol Retained
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85%
alcohol flamed 75%
no heat, stored overnight 70%
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture:
  • 15 minutes
  • 30 minutes
  • 1 hour
  • 1.5 hours
  • 2 hours
  • 2.5 hours


The good news is that according to the chart above, the alcohol content remaining in the cake after baking is about 1 oz diffused across the entire cake. Considering that most people are eating a slice or two at most, this is truly a negligible amount.

I tested the original recipe out, vodka and all, and it was delicious. However, as the alcohol was a definite concern for the party I was baking for at the time, I substituted water for the vodka in the batch for that particular event. It turned out beautifully! So great in fact that I decided to use water moving forward as I thought it was just as good with the substitution.  

Alternatively, you can decrease the amount of vodka to a level you are comfortable with and substitute water for the rest. 

This recipe is EASY, moist and delicious! You definitely do not need simple syrup if you are serving it within two days. Just be sure to cover it well in plastic wrap while it is still warm (not hot) and it will keep beautifully! This cake can be frozen for up to two months, works well under fondant, and is sturdy enough for carving.

Here’s how to make it:

First, you’ll need to preheat your oven to 325°F/165°C and prepare your pans. I used 6″ pans for this tutorial because I like my cakes to be 4″-6″ tall.  You can also use two 8″ pans,or one 9″ pan.

You will need the following ingredients for the Double Take Cake:

vanilla cake series part 2


Now you’ll need to sift your flour, vanilla pudding mix and baking powder into a bowl and set it aside:

vanilla cake series part 2


Put the paddle attachment on your stand mixer and beat the eggs and sugar together:

vanilla cake series part 2


You’ll know you are ready to move on to the next step when the mixture is thick and pale yellow:

vanilla cake series part 2


Now add the oil, orange juice and water (or vodka) and mix thoroughly:

vanilla cake series part 2


Add the dry ingredients a little at a time until combined:

vanilla cake series part 2


Once all has been incorporated, pour the mixture into the prepared pans. Channel your inner Bob Ross and bang the devil out of those pans on your counter a couple of times to remove any air bubbles:

Now pop them in the oven and bake!

Voila! I frosted and filled the cake below with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream. You can find that recipe and tutorial here.

vanilla cake series part 2


Double Take Cake

  • Difficulty: Super Easy
  • Print


  • 2 cups (8.5 oz or 240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 package (3.5 oz or 102g) vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 tsp (0.4 oz or 10g) baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups (14 oz or 397g) of granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups (5.16 oz) of canola oil
  • 3/4 (6 oz) cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) of water (or vodka)


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F/165°C.
  2. Prepare two 6″ pans, two 8″ pans, or one 9″ pan.
  3. Sift flour, vanilla pudding mix, and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat the eggs and sugar together well.
  5. Add the oil, orange juice and water (or vodka) and mix thoroughly.  
  6. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture a little at a time until just combined.  
  7. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes for 8″ and 9″ pans, and 70 minutes for 6″ pans.

Has an ingredient ever made you do a double take? Please comment below!

Happy Baking!

6 thoughts on “Vanilla Cake Series Part 2: The Double Take Cake

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