Favorite White Cake

I use this white cake as the base for many other cake flavors. It’s the PERFECT cake with a soft texture, wonderful vanilla flavor, and tastes incredible with creamy vanilla buttercream on top. Cake flour, egg whites, and sour cream are the secrets to the best texture. This cake recipe is the base for my burnt sugar caramel cake, strawberry cake and pistachio cake, too!

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

Let’s start the day the only way we know how: with a buttery white cake.

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 recipes that use cake flour. In a pinch, use this homemade cake flour substitute.
  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 chocolate buttercream, rainbow chip frosting, or even a chocolate cream cheese frosting. Each frosting is absolutely remarkable on this lovely cake. 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

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 (250g) 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 (600g) 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!
  7. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this cake flour substitute. 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

633 Comments

  1. Hi Sally! I might have a silly question with an easy answer. I tried making a half batch of this recipe and put it in a 6 inch round pan. I ended up using 3 egg whites, and I put in for about 40ish minutes to compensate for the smaller but deeper pan. The edges, and bottom were a lovely color at that point and the top was getting dark. When I inserted the toothpick in the center it seemed to come clean, but when I cut the top off to even it and ice it the middle seemed wet. It was chewy and stickier in the center down to the bottom. I’m trying to figure out if I didn’t bake it long enough or if it was too much egg. I’m wondering if you have any advice on what may have caused that issue and how to fix it. Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Devon, It was probably a combination of both! Eggs make cutting recipes in half tricky – next time you can try using two egg whites and only half of the third white. Also with deeper pans it’s more difficult to get your layers to bake evenly. Try tenting a piece of aluminum foil over the top about half way through the bake time so that the top doesn’t get so brown as the center bakes.

  2. Hi Sally! A quick question on the measurement – 2.5 cups cake flour (250g) listed, but in your Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes, 1.75 cups cake flour is down as 200g. Should the gram measurement for cake flour be more than just a 50g increase in this recipe? Just wanted to make sure before I try – thanks!

      1. Hi Sally, I plan to use this recipe on 3pcs of 5 inch pan. Do i bake for a shorter period im the oven since the pan is smaller?

      2. Hi Roselyn, Yes the bake time will be shorter in such small pans. Probably around 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    1. Probably a silly question but could I add some cocoa powder to this to make a chocolate version? I’m making a sheet cake for a birthday that’s half chocolate half vanilla and I’m afraid to use two completely different recipes in fear they won’t rise the same and the cake will be extremely uneven.

    1. Hi Milly! Before measuring. If the word “sifted” comes before the ingredient (flour, in this case) you sift before measuring. 🙂

    1. Hi Becky! The best way to use buttermilk is to have it replace both the sour cream AND milk in this recipe. Use 1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk, then leave out the sour cream and whole milk.

      1. I recently made this cake, and I used buttermilk to replace the whole milk and I still used the sour cream. The cake was still delicious, however, the cake was falling apart was the use of both ingredients the reason for it. And I also used four jumbo whites instead of the five large egg whites.

  3. Hi Sally!

    I am baking this cake for my daughter’s first birthday on Saturday (it will be her personal smash cake), but I also want to bake an additional sheet cake for the rest of my family to enjoy. A 9×13 cake won’t be big enough…can I bake this cake in 12×7 jelly roll pan?

    Thanks so much! (made your blueberry muffin loaf last night with fresh apples from apple picking and its divine!!!).

    1. Hi Hallie, a 12×7 jelly roll pan would actually be smaller than a 9×13 inch cake. If you have a large crowd I would suggest making this recipe twice and making 2 9×13 cakes. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Basia! It’s simply how I prefer to cool my round cakes. If you prefer cooling the cakes outside of the pan, you can remove them from the pans after about 15-20 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

      1. Thank you so much! Gonna make this into cupscakes tonight. Need 135 cupcakes and figured I’d use this recipe since this is more than the vanilla cupcake recipe.

  4. Thanks for sharing this recipe Sally! I saw it in your cake email series which I just signed up for and I’m glad you shared it because I’ve been looking for a regular white cake recipe. This one did not disappoint as promised. It is so soft and I used leftover egg yolks to make lemon curd. Very good!

  5. I made this cake and it completely stuck to the bottom of the pans and completely fell apart. I followed the recipe to a T and greased and floured the pan, so I don’t know what happened. Do you have any tips on how to avoid that?

    1. I always use a piece of parchment in the bottom of my cake pans. I lightly spray the pans with baking spray, place a round piece of parchment on the bottom, and then spray again. This guarantees the cakes will come out clean!

  6. I was hoping to get a better measurement and bake time for a 3 tiered cake. Bottom is 8 inch, middle is 6 inch and the top is 4 inch wide. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Arianna, The 8 inch cake will be about the same as this 9 inch cake. All 6 inch cake layers take about 18-21 minutes and I have not tested a 4 inch cake so I can’t say for sure how long that will take. All of them will still be at 350 degrees.

  7. HI Sally, i have a couple of questions – I am reading through the recipe and it says it serves 10 – 12 but it says to use 2x 9-inch pans which offers 24-32 approximate number of servings? I am very new at baking so just want to make sure. Unless is serves 10 – 12 lovely healthy servings? 🙂

    Also do all same size pans e.g. 9 inch pans (round, square, rectangular etc) required the approximate same baking time when using recipes?

    Last Question – If i use the batch in 1 pan as opposed to 2 or 3, how does the baking time work? Does it touble/triple in baking time?

    I

    1. Hi Chantelle! Happy to help. I don’t think a 2 layer 9-inch cake could feed 24-32 people unless the cake slices were incredibly small. I usually get 12 generous servings from a 2 layer 9 inch cake, but feel free to cut the slices as small as you’d like. It’s not the size of the pan that determines the bake time– it’s how much batter is inside/how thick the cake is. This batter will not fit into 1 9-inch pan, but it fits nicely into a 9×13 inch pan, see recipe note. Hope all of this helps!

  8. Hi Sally,

    I made this recently and loved it! I wanted to use it for my birthday cake, would there be enough batter for three 8-inch layers or should I do a 1.5 batch?

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