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) sifted 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. Sift it. Measure 1 cup. This sifted 1 cup equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this 3x, then remove 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.

SHOP THE RECIPE


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

220 comments

  1. Should the leftover cake be stored in the refrigerator after it’s frosted? Thanks? 

  2. Would it work to substitute almond extract for the vanilla extract to make an almond cake? Thanks.

  3. I will never use another recipe for white cake. This is THE best!!! I made it for my birthday and it hit the spot! Thank you!!

  4. This cake is amazing. So fluffy, and the frosting is the perfect amount of sweetness. I’ll be making this again. 

  5. This cake was amazing!! I made some as a trial run before my kids birthday and it was gone by the end of the day un-frosted! It was super moist. I did use 1/2 cup less of sugar and it was still delicious. I was a bit worried cos my batter wasnt thick but it turned out fine. I didnt even use cake flour but i plan too for the birthday cake. I’ll repost an update then…

    But thank you so much for this recipe…

  6. Do you think this cake would work well as a strawberry shortcake? I wanted a light and fluffy cake.

  7. This was incredible! I have been trying so many white cake recipes and they’ve all come out very dry… Magnolia Bakery has the BEST white cake in my opinion and I’ve finally found a recipe that tastes just like that does. Thank you <3 

  8. Hi! I am baking this for a birthday on Saturday and planning to cover it with fondant. It is gonna be delivered on Friday morning so I have to bake it on Thursday. Long story short do you think I should use some extra syrup on the layers to make sure they stay moist until Saturday when they’re going to cut it? Thanks in advance.

    • You can if you want to, but I personally wouldn’t. I don’t find it necessary but again– if you want, you can try!

  9. Update–I made this with the almond extract and it was AMAZING!!! It was fairly sturdy and held up well to three layers. The almond flavor complimented it very well, and I paired it with a raspberry SMBC. Yum . 🙂 Thanks so much, Sally! I know where to come if I need a reliable and delicious recipe.

  10. I made this cake for my husbands birthday yesterday. It was the best cake I have ever made. I always have bad luck and end up with a dense cake, but not this one. This cake was soft and fluffy. Perfection. I don’t think I ever want to bake a cake without cake flour again.  Oh and went to Facebook to watch your Facebook live from yesterday. I don’t do Facebook but wanted to watch it. Loved it. Thanks!

    • Happy birthday to your husband!! So happy you guys enjoyed this cake and thanks for coming over to Facebook to support my new LIVE video and watch!! 🙂

  11. This cake was absolutely delicious! I homeschool my kids, and made it to celebrate the *almost* end of the school year ;). After the first bite I told my husband that I think I can make it until June now. 😉

  12. If I wanted to make this into a three layer cake would I just divide the batter up into three pans or make 1.5 batches? And if I divide it into three pans would the bake time change?

  13. Could I use this recipe to make a peaches and cream layer cake? 

    • If you are not changing the actual cake recipe and just using a peach frosting between the layers – or even slices of peaches and vanilla frosting then yes, absolutely! 🙂

  14. If I were to make this into a 11x15in sheet cake, how should I adjust the recipe?

  15. Hi Sally ! 
    I love your recipes, especially your cinnamon swirl banana bread. 
    However I’m in a stump. I recently got free range for a 3 layer 6″ cake with a kate spade theme. So I wanted to do your white layer cake tinted pink and the chocolate layer tinted black and swirl them together to create a semi marble, zebra pattern with Oreo buttercream filling. 

    Any thoughts on how I should go about it ? 

    Thanks so much again. 

    • For the base of the cake, you could use this recipe since the baking pans are smaller. Sounds like such a fun cake!

  16. Hello Sally! You are amazing! Can i replace sour cream with buttercream??? Also what would you say to use this recipe for a wedding cake? Thanks in advance!

    • I don’t recommend the extra liquid– sour cream or even plain yogurt is best. This cake would be a lovely small wedding cake, yes!

  17. I was hesitant to leave the cakes in the pans until completely cooled. But against my better judgement, I did. They both stuck terribly!! Maybe I didn’t grease and flour well enough? But the pieces tasted amazing! And I will definitely be using this recipe again. we will just eat a bowl of cake this time around. Thank you for all of your amazing recipes! I’ve made many, and this is my first fail.

  18. Love your recipes.  Just took this cake out of the oven.  Can’t wait for it to cool.  Have you doubled this recipe for a sheet cake?  I am always searching for a white cupcake recipe…have you tried this one?  Thanks 

  19. Hi. Can I use whole eggs instead of jus the egg whites? Sometimes don’t know what to do with the egg yolks.

  20. I made this cake for my daughter’s 26th birthday today. It was EXCELLENT! Great job on this recipe. Everyone loved it.

  21. I make your very vanilla cupcakes probably once a week, have used it for a cake many times in the last six months (with excellent results, or so delicious and my local baristas/bartender/co-workers love it!). I’ve made this cake five times in the last two weeks though and each time it rises beautifully makes a beautiful dome, then proceeds to fall as soon as I pulled out of the oven. It usually has glutinous streaks in it (but still tastes delicious). I can promise you I’m following the directions to a T, and always let the ingredients come to room temperature. Any thoughts on what might be going wrong with my process?

    • Hi Michael! And you’re making no ingredient subs, right? If the cake is falling, I suggest 3 things: check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer, try baking an extra minute or two (under-baking will cause collapsing), and check your leaveners for freshness. I find baking powder and soda lose their potency after only 3 months.

      • Thank you for your reply! I was using ultra fine sugar (I got a significant amount for fifty percent off haha). I just ran out and switched to regular granulated. The granulated takes waaaaaaaay longer to cream, but the cake turns out perfect. Is it feasible that I was just not creaming the butter and sugar long enough because the ultra fine sugar creams so easily?

  22. My icing came out wayyyyy too sweet.. not sure what I did wrong. Do you have any suggestions for icing that isnt too sweet?

    The cake was delicious though 🙂

  23. Last year I baked your funfetti cake for my daughters 2 year birthday and it was amazing!!!
    this year I want to try this for her 3! But since it will be a bigger prty and more kids I was windering if I can double the recepie and bake a cake and some cupcakes??? instrad of doing 2 different recepies… 

  24. I made this cake yesterday and I am bewildered by the end result. The cake baked perfectly but after cooling it fell flat but it was still light and crumbly. I frosted it the following day and it turned into a sweet heavy lump I used the buttercream recipe. The flavour of the cake is very good but much too sweet for my liking. This is the first time I had such a disaster. I am an experienced cook and baker. What could have gone wrong all my ingredients were fresh and I followed the recipe to the letter.

    I live in the Caribbean and I noticed when ever I use butter instead of margarine my results with cakes are not as good. Could temperature and climate make a difference

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