Favorite White Layer Cake

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

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. I want to start a new year the best way we know how: a buttery white cake.

Cheers!

Why This is my Best White Cake Recipe

This white cake recipe is adapted from my perfect vanilla cupcakes, a reader favorite. The cake is my definition of *cake perfection* and has become one of the most popular cake recipes on my website. Here’s why:

  • Soft & airy crumb
  • Moist, but not eggy
  • Pure sweet flavor
  • Stick-to-your-fork tender
  • Completely from scratch
  • Easy & approachable recipe

Slice of white cake

White Cake Success Tips

  1. Cream the Butter: To achieve a good rise, properly cream the butter and sugar together. We 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. Egg Whites: Use ONLY egg whites. No 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. Same story here.
  3. Sour Cream: Sour cream is the cake’s security blanket; it keeps everything moist.
  4. Cake Flour: Cake flour is almost 30x finer than all-purpose flour. Using it is a surefire way to achieve a delicate and delicious texture. It’s sold in the baking aisle and you can use the rest of the box in any of these cake flour recipes.
  5. Room Temperature: Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature. When ingredients are the same temperature, they bind together more readily than if you had some cold and 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. The result is an ultra-light cake with buttery vanilla flavor, just like the kind you find at a bakery or from a box mix. But it’s all made from scratch in your very own kitchen. ♥

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White Cake Decoration!

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 prefer vanilla frosting, which I include in the recipe below. But I encourage you to play around with milk chocolate frosting, rainbow chip frosting, or even a cream cheese frosting. All remarkable on this beauty. The vanilla frosting makes a lot, so expect a thick layer between the cakes.

9×13 inch pan: Want to bake a sheet cake instead? Follow my recipe note. A single layer white cake is easier to prepare, decorate, and serve!

White cake with vanilla buttercream

Simple, yet glamorous. Happy baking!

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White cake with vanilla buttercream

Favorite White Layer Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 24 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This white cake recipe is buttery and moist with the fluffiest crumb and creamiest vanilla buttercream. The tricks are to use cake flour, egg whites, and sour cream.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (275g) sifted cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 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 temperature*
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (yes, Tbsp!)
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, at room temperature*

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

Instructions

  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. Slice, serve, enjoy!

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 9×13 inch pan: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Keywords: white cake

Here are my Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes. Today’s white cake is just as soft & fluffy.

Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting

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

439 Comments

  1. I love this recipe and I use it often since it’s become a fan favorite among my family and friends. I find that it falls extremely easily at sea level though, so to combat this problem, I add an extra 25-50 grams of cake flour to mixture which doesn’t noticeably change the texture. I also found that beating in the eggs and sour cream for as long as the directions indicate can cause the batter to split, despite the ingredients all being at room temperature.
    Thanks again Sally, this cake is awesome.

  2. Hi, I would like to bake this cake in a 9X13 pan for my son’s birthday but I am wondering how thick it will be?
    Thank you!

  3. Any tips for making this into a half sheet cake? I calculated that about 2.5x the recipe would make about a 2″ high cake in my 13*16 pan… but I am not sure if that is correct and I have no idea how long to bake the cake. Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated!

  4. Hi Sally! This looks amazing! I’m on my baking journey so I’m experimenting. I would like to know if whole fat Greek yorgurt would work instead of sour cream?

  5. Hi Sally, can I use this recipe under fondant. I love your red velvet recipe…its a hit everytime I’ve made it. Thank you for sharing such amazing recipes.

  6. Hi Sally,

    Do you think baking this in a bundt pan (9 3/4 × 3 3/8) would work? I’m trying to make your strawberry cake which uses this cake as a base.
    Thank you in advance!

      1. Thank you for getting back to me! It holds about 10 cups when filled almost to the top. I’m just gonna try it and hope for the best :D.

      2. I can confirm that baking this in a bundt cake pan does not work. But I’ll try it again soon the way it was intended to be made.

  7. Your recipe for frosting says:
    1 and 1/4 cups (2.5 sticks; 287g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature.

    Which is it, 1 and 1/4 cups or 2.5 sticks.
    2.5 sticks is 1 1/2 cups butter not 1 1/4.

    Thank you

    1. It’s the same.
      1 stick = 1/2 cup, so 1/2 stick = 1/4 cup
      2.5 sticks = 1/2 cup x 2.5 = 0.5 x 2.5 = 1.25 = 1/4 cups
      Or, 2.5 sticks = 1/2 cup +1/2 cup + 1/4 cup = 1 1/4 cups

  8. Best cake ever! Moist, flavorful and baked like a dream!
    Use fat daddies 8×2 pans . 3.5 cups batter in each pan. Full 2 inch cakes.

    Also did a dozen cupcakes!
    Perfect white cake!

  9. Hi Sally! I absolutely love this recipe and have made it twice as a 9 inch layer cake. Tonight I made it as a 9×13 and I’m concerned I over baked it. It’s a bit darker than the rounds. I followed the time recommendation of 40 as the rounds usually bake in my oven for about 26 minutes. The cake center bounces back despite the darker shade. Should I be concerned that it over baked?

    1. The longer bake time can definitely cause the top to brown more. You can cover it with aluminum foil half way through if you notice it beginning to brown before the center is done. How did it taste?

      1. Thank you for your quick reply, Sally! The short answer is that the cake still tasted incredible! I made two cakes for a co-worker’s baby shower (the 9×13, which I asked the question about, and then a 9″round) I added sprinkles to both to make them funfetti, as suggested in your funfetti layer cake post. The 9×13 was frosted with rainbow chip and the 9″ had vanilla buttercream so I could decorate it. I did noticed the 9×13 crumb was slightly dryer than the round but no one else really detected this. So, I’ll take the foil suggestion in the future and watch the bake time more carefully. However, I got so many rave reviews for these two cakes!!! They especially loved the rainbow chip frosting!! This will definitely be a go to recipe for white and funfetti cakes in the future. The crumb of this cake is absolutely perfect!

  10. Hi Sally,
    I would love to make this cake using an egg substitute if possible. There are egg allergies in the family. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  11. YES!! I have to make a Gluten Free vanilla cake for a friends kids birthday. So I made this one with a generic Coles brand gluten free plain flour mix……..and it tastes and looks like a NORMAL cake! I was so happy. I had a few other recipes lined up in case but now I don’t have to bother with them. This one browned beautifully, rose beautifully and is all round beautiful. The crumb is great and it’s nice and spongy and moist.
    To commenters who say this to people who ask about gluten free changes: “Why don’t you just Google a gluten free recipe to begin with?”
    Just shush please. People want to use a recipe they trust and they’ve probably used Sally’s recipes before. So they trust her. There are so many recipes out there that don’t work well at all so why wouldn’t you want to use a trusted person’s recipe.
    Thank you for this cake Sally! =)

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