New Favorite White Layer Cake

Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Good morning and happy new year, sweet friends.

After what seems like an entire month of sugar, I figure today is the best day to share a giant white cake filled with creamy vanilla frosting and topped with rainbow– but mostly pink– sprinkles. Seriously though. I really want to start 2017 off the best way we know how: with a bakery classic. This is my new favorite white layer cake!

Cheers!

Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Creating a white cake that incorporates a soft and airy crumb, a sweet but not-at-all-muted flavor, moist but not eggy, tender crumbs that stick to your fork, all completely from scratch that is also EASY and approachable is a tall order. In fact, I didn’t even know if all of that together was even possible in a home kitchen. I was given some hope when I bit into my first simply perfect vanilla cupcake back in August, but work was cut out turning those cupcakes into a larger cake. It’s not as simple as doubling all the ingredients. No, a fluffy white cake takes a little more TLC.

Here is what I learned:

  1. To get a good rise, you need to properly cream the butter and sugar together. Of course we’ll have a crutch of baking powder and soda, but the recipe begins with that very first and imperative step: beating the butter and sugar together until creamy.
  2. After that, you’ll need 5 egg whites. This is sort of a pain with all those leftover egg yolks, but the most guaranteed way to achieve a fluffy and soft white cake is by leaving out the yolks. Not only will using only egg whites give us a pristine white cake, it will ensure that the crumb is not weighed down by the fat in egg yolks. Think about it: lighter confections such as marshmallows and angel food cakes only require egg whites.
  3. Sour cream is the cake’s security blanket; it keeps everything moist and tender.
  4. Cake flour is almost 30x finer than all-purpose flour. This means a light cake. Using it is a surefire way to achieve a delicate and delicious texture. It’s certainly not as common as all-purpose flour but it’s sold right next to it in the baking aisle.
  5. All room temperature! When ingredients are all the same temperature, they bind together more readily than if you had some cold + some warmer ingredients. Colder ingredients (especially egg whites) will produce a thicker batter and, since it’s cold, will take longer to bake. This changes everything.

To summarize, make sure you’re creaming the butter and sugar together properly, all your ingredients are the same temperature and you use egg whites, sour cream, and cake flour. Power ingredients!

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The result is a fabulously ultra-light cake with buttery vanilla flavor, just like the kind you find at a bakery or from a box mix. And all made from scratch in your very own kitchen. Now THAT’S the way to start a new year!

While the ingredients in the cake batter don’t leave any room for substitutions, we can have some fun with a variety of frostings and cake pans. I went with a vanilla frosting, which I’ll include in the recipe below. But I also encourage you to play around with milk chocolate frosting or even a cream cheese frosting. Both remarkable on this beauty. Or rainbow chip frosting! 🙂

The vanilla frosting makes a lot, so expect a thick layer between the cakes. Alternatively, you can bake the cake in a 9×13 pan. This single layer size is much easier for not only preparing and frosting, but for serving as well.

Just as tasty right here. ↓ ↓

Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Check out that cake crumb! Snowy white, soft, sweet, with an airy crumb. ♥

Simple, yet glamorous. Happy happy baking.

Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

More favorites:

Favorite White Layer Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (250g) cake flour1 (measured correctly)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, at room temperature2
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (yes, Tbsp!)
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, at room temperature2

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (2.5 sticks; 287g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups (580g) sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or use clear imitation vanilla extract for stark white frosting)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkles for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites. Beat on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 24-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin, more cream if frosting is too thick, or a pinch more of salt if frosting is way too sweet.
  6. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Decorate top of cake with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Slice, serve, enjoy!

Make ahead tip: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake the next day when you are ready to serve. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. If you cannot get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this 3x, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/2 cup since you need 2 and 1/2 cups in this recipe.
  2. Whole milk and sour cream are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cake may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk.

To bake in a 9x13 pan: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9x13 pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Kitchenaid Stand Mixer | Kitchenaid Hand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Rainbow WhisksCake Pan | Icing Spatula

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pays me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Soft, fluffy, and perfect white layer cake made from scratch!! Get the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

147 comments

  1. Hi Sally 🙂 I am a lover of all recipes by you!! I made this cake for a birthday party and it was a hit!! I was wanting to make it into a 3 tiered 6″ cake.. any idea how long those pans would need to bake? And at 350 I am guessing? Thank you for awesome recipes!! 

  2. Hi, Sally, 
    I made this cake this past weekend as a practice cake for my daughter’s upcoming birthday. I baked it for exactly 40 minutes and the cake came out a bit dry. This is my fault. My oven usually bakes hotter and I should have tested it at the 35 minute mark. I know this for next time. Anyway, I decorated it, and taste tested. It is delicious, but as I said, dry. However, today, the cake is super moist with a delicate crumb!?? I can’t for the life of me figure out how this happened overnight, haha. Do you have any ideas? I am just curious. I baked it Saturday, decorated Sunday, and now today, Monday, it is just plain yummy. Even the flavor is better, as well as the texture. Baffled, for sure! Thanks for the recipe!! 🙂 

  3. If I wanted 3 layers, what pans/baking time would I use? Thanks!

  4. Hi Sally! I’m thinking of making this for Easter in a 6 or 7 inch pan, but what would my oven temperature be on?

  5. Is there anything to be gained from whipping up the egg whites separately into stiff peaks and folding them into the just-combined other wet and dry ingredients? Or would that be redundant?

  6. Hi Sally,

    I am a huge fan and have been meaning to try your new fav white layer cake! I also have some vanilla bean seeds that I have been meaning to use! Can I just add them in or should I use your vanilla bean cake recipe instead? You have too many good ones to choose from!  

    • I would definitely add some seeds into this batter. SO yummy! Maybe use the seeds scraped from half of a bean. Or a whole bean for extra flavor.

  7. Hey Sally! I really want to make this but my oven is too small and i want to make three layered 6″ cakes. Does this batter need to be baked immediately or it can wait a few hours?

  8. Your recipes have yet to fail me. I cannot wait to try this the next time I make a white cake. I have lost count how many white cake recipes I have tried that have been awful. Chocolate no problem. But white?! Can never get that nice fluffy moistness. I hope this is a winner! 😀

  9. I made this cake for a dinner party last night. I was concerned that just plain vanilla would be too one dimensional without something like lemon curd or a flavorful mix-in. I was wrong. So very good with a lovely texture. I had bookmarked this cake when you posted it in January but just now got around to making it. I highly recommend.

  10. Finally made this last weekend, it was amazing! Not that I expected anything else given that I adore the cupcake version. Now my husband wants a coffee flavored version, guess it is time to play around…

  11. Hi Sally! I want to try baking this on two 7″ pans for my son’s birthday on the 18th but dont know how to adjust the ingredients.. Also, I have a small oven so only one pan can fit. Can the other batter wait for a while?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Jackie! Yes, you can bake 1 cake at a time– loosely cover the batter as you wait for the first cake to finish. My advice is to fill the pans only halfway and use any extra batter for cupcakes. About 20-21 minutes bake time for cupcakes.

  12. Hi Sally,
    I wrote you a while ago about how much I love your vanilla cupcake recipe.
    I really would like to make this cake and am wondering if I can use the measurements you listed in just one 13/9
    pan. You did mention the recipe is for two pans, so I just would like to clarify. Also is the sour cream measurement 1/2 cup as listed?  I noticed that you doubled the milk amount from the cupcake recipe, but not the sour cream amount. I just want to make sure before I make it. 
    Thank you! 
    Kind regards,

    • This recipe can yield a 9×13 inch cake– see my last recipe note 🙂
      1/2 cup of sour cream is enough for this cake, yes.

      • Hi Sally,
        I could not resist the temptation, so before I received your reply, I went ahead and made your white cake using two 9″ round pans.  This is an amazing recipe, and a huge hit among family and friends…By far  the best white cake EVER!  No need to ever look for a white cake recipe again. You nailed it!  Is is possible to double the recipe for a four layer cake, or do you recommend making two separate batches?
        Kind regards, and thank you!

      • So glad you tried and loved it! I recommend making 2 separate batches instead of doubling.

  13. Hello! I am wondering if this cake would be the same in cupcakes form? And, if I cut the recipe in half. I have made this cake several times and it always turns out amazing!

  14. Hi sally, your recipes never fail me, i just have one problem we don’t have sour cream in nigeria. If i am to use yorghurt instead how thick must it be, watery or like greek yorghurt. Also can i use margarine too instead of butter cos that is what we call butter here, the real butter is also hard to find and outragously expensive(more than the price of a whole cake). I have made all your other cakes with margarine and they are so delicious and soft. You are my mentor. Love you.

    • Hi Funmi– use the thick yogurt option. I don’t prefer margarine but if you’ve had luck with using it in my cake recipes, by all means– use it here too!

  15. Hi – I use cake molds for Easter cakes (Lamb, Bunny). They were my mother’s and are probably 40 years old. Do you think this cake would work in a molded pan? Curious! She always used Pound cake… but I prefer white cake.

  16. Hi, Sally. I want to make this cake tonight in three 6″ pans. What do you think the bake time will be?

    • I’m unsure, maybe 20ish minutes? Use a toothpick to test. Enjoy!

      • I used two 6 inch pans and I found myself constantly adding time…. I think i went up to 45 mins (maybe more) but i feel like the outside cooked a lot more than the middle… The oven temp was for sure 350 as I have an oven thermometre because my oven doesn’t run as hot as it should.
        That said, the flavour is AMAZING. I guess I will have to try it again!

  17. I want to make a two layer 9×13 cake, should I bake in two batches? Also would I double the frosting to have a enough to fill, frost, and decorate?

  18. Hi Sally, I have been a huge fan of your recipes since I discovered your website a couple of years ago but have never left a comment. Just thought I would let you know, my partner requested a “white cake with vanilla” for his birthday. I knew just where to look! I made this cake and I have to say it is the BEST cake I have ever made! I can’t get over how soft and moist it is! My partner and his family were so impressed. Thank you so much ! Gin from New Zealand

    • Thanks for the comment, Gin! So happy to hear that you like this cake as much as I do! And I hope it was a great birthday celebration 🙂

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