New Favorite White Layer Cake

Or try my funfetti 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!

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.

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

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!

white-layer-cake-5

white-layer-cake-7

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

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.

Did you make a recipe?

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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

Try my checkerboard cake next. Lots of step-by-step photos walking you through the entire process!

How to make checkerboard cake from scratch! Homemade vanilla layer cake and vanilla buttercream in a checkerboard design! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

355 Comments

Comments

  1. Kristen on September 15, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Sally! I’m looking to bake this cake for my moms birthday, if I could, I wanted to use fresh vanilla bean. How much would I use? Also, I was thinking of putting in a dash a cinnamon to create a depth of flavor. I would use dark chocolate icing. What are you thoughts? Thank you so much!

    • Sally on September 17, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Hi Kristen! The additions of vanilla bean and cinnamon sound so good, especially this time of year. For the vanilla bean, I would use the beans scraped from half of a vanilla bean and maybe 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Dark chocolate frosting would also be great! I love this rich chocolate fudge frosting. A lovely dark flavor: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2017/12/18/tuxedo-cake/

Reviews

  1. Sam A on June 21, 2018 at 11:51 am

    This was perfect! I made this last night for my mom’s birthday and followed the recipe almost to the letter except for subbing in salted butter and decreasing the salt called for, since I almost never have unsalted butter on hand. The layers baked up beautifully fluffy and perfectly moist. I split and filled them with lemon curd, cream cheese whipped cream, and raspberries, which was as delicious for breakfast as is was for dessert.
    Thanks for this; it’s my new go-to white cake!

Questions

  1. Caroline Morrissey on May 3, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    I want to make a 3 tier 9” cake. Can you tell me what adaptions i need to make please? Hi!

    • Sally on May 4, 2018 at 5:48 am

      Hi Caroline! My suggestion is to make this 3 layer cake instead. Easier than playing around with this recipe and risking it!

      • Caroline Morrissey on May 13, 2018 at 9:37 pm

        Thank you! I did bake the cake you suggested and it came out perfectly.



  2. Ashley Mjoen on May 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Silly question, do you think this recipe would work well for doing a jello poke cake?

    • Sally on May 7, 2018 at 10:12 am

      I can’t see why not!

  3. Laetetia on May 5, 2018 at 12:54 am

    Hi Sally!

    Can I use buttermilk instead of whole milk?

    2nd time making this cake – love it!

    Laetetia

    • Sally on May 7, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Sure can! Same amount.

  4. Telicia on May 9, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    My, My, My (smh). I can’t tell you how many vanilla cupcakes and cakes I have tested for “The One”. They all were edible, because , hey we love dessert. However, some were dry, some too dense, some were bland, etc. I made this one this past weekend, and I can finally say, I have found the perfect vanilla recipe for me. I will not deviate from this recipe. So simple but so moist , so fluffy and full of flavor. This will definitely be my birthday cake recipe for ever. I used your cream cheese frosting recipe and it was great. Making it again this weekend with your vanilla butter cream frosting. Can’t wait. I want to use it as my cupcake recipe also. Do you think it will work?

  5. Paula on May 10, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    Hi Sally- I’m an over thinker. Looking for my “go to” white and vanilla cake recipes. I love the White Wedding Cake/Cupcake recipe from Recipe Girl, but it starts with a boxed mix white cake. I have made it many times and it is very good, but I am looking for my scratch white and vanilla cakes. Your Triple Chocolate Layer cake is my go to for chocolate. It is just the best. So, when someone asks me for white, are they looking for a cake made without egg yolks, without too much vanilla taste? (I use clear vanilla when going for a lighter color cake). When they ask for vanilla, are they looking for a cake made with brown vanilla, egg yolks included, and vanilla extract (no almond)? Again, over thinker here. What do you think?? 🙂

    • Sally on May 11, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Hi Paula! Are you asking me which cake recipe is my favorite vanilla cake? Because it’s this one! This is just my personal point of view, but I think white cakes and vanilla cakes are pretty similar 🙂

      • Paula on May 11, 2018 at 1:22 pm

        Hi Sally! Thank you so much for your reply. When I need a recipe, I always turn to you first. :-). I guess I am just trying to put myself into someone’s shoes when they ask me for a “white” cake. Does “white” come with the expectation that it will taste like vanilla, or cherry (from almond). Would vanilla be acceptable as a “white” choice….I made this recipe yesterday. It is really good. I love the rise (I like tall cakes and I made it in 3 6″ rounds). Each layer was around 1 1/4+” tall. Loved the light color and flavor. I bet it would pair nicely with lemon curd and raspberry puree, which I make from scratch. Also would be great with vanilla/chocolate buttercreams. Another great recipe from you!!!! Final thought: if you asked me for a white cake and I made this recipe for you, would your hopes for a white cake be met? Thanks again for your reply Sally. 🙂



  6. aimee on May 13, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    I was checking out your Funfetti Layer Cake recipe, which pointed me to this recipe if I wanted a lighter, fluffier cake and suggested I add jimmies. How much should I add? 3/4C, like the other recipe?

    And I’m looking to use 8 inch pans and do 3 or 4 layers. Is this cake too fluffy or will it stand up to that weight? If so, how long should I bake for?

    • Sally on May 14, 2018 at 5:47 am

      Hi Aimee! I would start with 1/2 cup of sprinkles, then stir in more if you feel the batter could use more. This cake will be fine with 8-inch pans in 3 layers. The bake time will be a little shorter and though I don’t know the exact time for 3 layers/8-inch pans, you can use a toothpick to test.

  7. Tasha S. on May 14, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Hi Sally,

    I love the texture of this cake my question is could I use this recipe to make a chocolate cake or does using cocoa powder require the fat of egg yolks?

    Thanks

    • Sally on May 14, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Hi Tasha! Unless you feel confident in your recipe testing, I do not suggest swapping in cocoa powder. Try this chocolate cake recipe. It’s a popular one!

  8. Wadzi on May 16, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Hie Sally!

    What’s an alternative to heavy cream? I’m from. Africa and more often than not fail to find certain things

    • Sally on May 16, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      For the frosting you can use whole milk (full fat) instead of heavy cream. Enjoy!

  9. Daisy on May 18, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Hi Sally –

    I love your recipes, just made your Lemon Buttercream for my son’s birthday cupcakes and it was awesome! Re. this cake, is there any substitution possible to make it a bit less fattening? For example using applesauce for sugar or yogurt for sour cream, or any other ideas? I want to make a classic birthday cake but would prefer to not serve a 600-calorie slice.

    • Sally on May 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Daisy, So glad you liked the lemon buttercream! See the Recipe Note #2 for substitutions for this recipe.

      • Daisy on May 21, 2018 at 9:57 pm

        Hi Sally,
        I made this cake (with no substitutions), following the recipe to the letter, but I had problems. The cake took longer to bake than expected – after 35 minutes a toothpick still not 100% clean, but the edges were overcooked so I removed from the oven. The cake turned out not airy or light, instead it was kind of dense and parts of it almost mushy. I did definitely use cake flour. Any idea what could have caused the problem? The taste was very good though.



  10. Cait on June 4, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Can you use carton egg whites? and if so how much? (150g ish?) I hate wasted yolks if I don’t have something to use them for.

    Though I guess if forced I could make lemon curd 🙂 I bet that’d be a yummy filling for this cake…

    • Sally on June 4, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      Hi Cait! You can use carton egg whites. The carton should give measurements for substituting for real egg whites. They all vary. Lemon curd would definitely be a lovely addition or a delicious homemade gift!

  11. Salma on June 4, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    So, I made this cake twice for both my boys’s birthdays and it was amaaaazing! Love love love it!! You always post the best recipes! I was wondering about experimenting with biscoff cookie butter amd this recipe…. what do you thing the substitutions would be? Decrease the butter by the amount of cookie butter and swap some white sugar for brown?

    • Sally on June 4, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      Thanks Salma! I think a cookie butter flavored cake would be delicious, but I’m not confident with my advice as it would require a little testing. Nut butters and other spreads with the same thick texture quickly dry out cakes. Let me know if you try anything though!

  12. Saige M on June 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Love your recipes, they always turn out so fantastic! I’m trying to do a white birthday cake but with just a slight citrus flavor. Do you think it would be fine to add in lemon or orange zest (by rubbing in the sugar before creaming)? Or do you think that might affect the recipe as a whole?

  13. Stephanie Convery on June 15, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Hi Sally! It’s my sister’s 30th Birthday tomorrow and I’m wondering if I can make this cake into a sheet cake and use a 12 x 17 pan. Blog is phenomenal by the way, always my go to for baked goods! Our line at home is ‘Sally knows best’!
    Stephanie

    • Sally on June 15, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      For a single layer cake I use a 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  14. Madeline on June 26, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    Sally,
    Any hints for a gal at 8000ft elevation? Love your blog for all things cookie/bar/etc but can’t get the cakes to turn out! Thanks Madeline

  15. Natasha on July 5, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Sally, hope you’re well! I’m a huge fan and have been experimenting with many of your recipes. I love and appreciate how thorough your recipes are written, my baking skills have developed so much since finding you. I’ve truly found my passion thanks to you
    I’m wondering if I could add some lemon and blueberries to this cake? I have experimented adding blueberries and lemon into your vanilla cupcakes which worked well and wondered if I should expect the same results with this.
    Thanks Tasha ☺️

    • Sally on July 6, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      Thanks for such a kind note, Natasha! You can certainly experiment with adding flavors to this cake – Or the most popular cake on my blog actually is a lemon blubbery cake: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/02/09/lemon-blueberry-layer-cake/

      • Natasha on July 7, 2018 at 7:10 pm

        Thank you for your reply, and you’re so welcome. I experimented with the add in if blueberries and lemon to this cake and it was an absolute hit. I’ll be sure to try out the lemon blueberry layer cake next time.



  16. Layla on July 11, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Can I double the recipe for a two tiered cake?

    • Sally on July 12, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      Hi Layla! I recommend making the batter twice instead of doubling. More batter leads to over or under-mixing which can ruin the entire cake.

  17. Dee on July 16, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Hi there,

    would you recommend using this recipe for an ice cream cake? Not sure how well it freezes, or if you have tried it?

    Thanks,
    Dee

    • Sally on July 16, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Hi Dee! I haven’t tried using this cake as an ice cream cake, but I haven frozen the cake before. Tastes great!

  18. Kathy on July 20, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    If using 9 x 13 could I double the recipe?

    • Sally on July 23, 2018 at 7:08 am

      Hi Kathy! See my recipe note for baking this cake recipe as a 9×13-inch sheet cake.

      • Kathy Bauman on August 27, 2018 at 1:13 am

        My pan is slightly larger than 9 x 13. Made 1 1/2 times the recipe. Rose perfectly with a wonderfully fine, heavy texture. Exactly the same size as my chocolate cake recipe that I made for the birthday party as well. It was a big hit! Served with fresh thickened tangy raspberries! Awesome summertime dessert with any fruit I’m sure. Made with cream cheese icing….will try vanilla next time. Thanks for a great recipe!



  19. Ashley on August 4, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Hi Sally!

    Do you advise skipping the stand mixer for the cake because of the risk for over mixing? Just curious. I have a 9 month old and anything I can do to make it easier is better, but I don’t wanna mess up this cake for my dad’s birthday!

    Thanx

    Ashley

    • Sally on August 6, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Hi Ashley! I use a stand mixer for this cake. You can also use a hand-mixer. Sorry if that was unclear!

  20. Crystal Clark on August 20, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    Hi!
    I would like to make a monster cake for my sons birthday using this vanilla cake recipe but I would like the cake to be taller (possibly 4 tiers). If I were to bake this in 6 inch cake pans do you have an idea of how many layers I should expect?
    Thank You

  21. Carly on August 27, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Hi, I’m going to be making my daughters birthday cake and she’s requested a 4 tier rainbow cake (eeekk!!) as in she wants rainbow,ombré icing! Would your vanilla frosting recipe be ok for this? Obviously I’d need to make a larger quantity….wish me luck lol!!

    • Sally on August 28, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Yes! You can tint the vanilla frosting any color(s) you wish. Be sure to share a picture when it’s finished!

  22. Lolly on August 30, 2018 at 8:59 am

    My new go to white cake. Great job! So delicious. Have you tried using 5 whole eggs to make it the color expected of a Vanilla cake instead of just the whites? Would like to use this as my go to Vanilla cake but want the more yellow color.

    • Sally on August 30, 2018 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Lolly! You can definitely give it a try. Keep in mind that the yolks will weigh down the cake crumb, so the texture will change. You won’t need 5 whole eggs; I would reduce down. Let me know how it goes!

      If you want to check out my favorite vanilla cake with a slightly denser texture, here it is: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2018/03/01/vanilla-naked-cake/

  23. Faby on September 4, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Sally! Help!
    I was attempting to make this recipe, everything was going great until I added the milk.
    As soon as we started pouring the milk (with the stand mixer on and in low speed) the mixture curdled =(.

    Any tip for preventing this?

    • Sally on September 5, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Hi Faby! It likely curdled because the milk was colder than the batter. The cake usually bakes up just fine though. 🙂

      • Faby on September 5, 2018 at 7:51 pm

        The milk was at room temperature (straight out of the pantry since it was new). Could it have been because it wasn’t whole milk or the speed when mixing?
        I can’t figure what I did wrong, they felt crunchy/caramelized on top and very buttery in the middle. =(
        I’ll give it another try and let you know.

        Thanks for the reply!



  24. Maureen on September 11, 2018 at 8:14 am

    Wish I knew what i did wrong. The cake was dense and didn’t have the rise I expected. All ingredients at room temp, didn’t overbeat, used cake flour, etc. Any suggestions?

  25. Kristen on September 15, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Sally! I’m looking to bake this cake for my moms birthday, if I could, I wanted to use fresh vanilla bean. How much would I use? Also, I was thinking of putting in a dash a cinnamon to create a depth of flavor. I would use dark chocolate icing. What are you thoughts? Thank you so much!

    • Sally on September 17, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Hi Kristen! The additions of vanilla bean and cinnamon sound so good, especially this time of year. For the vanilla bean, I would use the beans scraped from half of a vanilla bean and maybe 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Dark chocolate frosting would also be great! I love this rich chocolate fudge frosting. A lovely dark flavor: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2017/12/18/tuxedo-cake/

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