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

I love this cake so much that I even reduced the quantity of cake batter down to make the perfect 1 layer pineapple upside down cake.

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. ♥

white-layer-cake-5

white-layer-cake-7

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. Amount of Batter: If it’s helpful for using different size cake pan sizes and conversions, this recipe yields about 7 cups of cake batter.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Cupcakes: My vanilla cupcakes recipe is essentially this same recipe, only halved. If you want more cupcakes, you can follow this white cake batter recipe and use the baking instructions for the cupcakes.

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

804 Comments

  1. Amal Nazzall says:

    Hi, i want to use this recipe to make a 6 layer rainbow cake. I was thinking about doubling the recipe and dividing evenly between 6 cake pans. I also planned to use the rainbow chip frosting. Should I also double that?

    I am note sure about the ratios, please help!

    1. Hi Amal, I highly recommend making the recipe twice instead of doubling it. When you double any cake recipe you run the risk of under or over mixing the batter which leads to a tough textured baked good. You can double the frosting recipe if you wish.

      1. Thank you for your reply! You were right… I doubled it before I read your response and unfortunately the batter split. The texture was definitely off… I will have to try again!

  2. How would I go about making a 3 layer 8 inch cake of this recipe? Is the frosting stable enough to support this??

    1. Hi Keke, For three layers you can use 1.5 times the batter. Or you can use my recipe for Best Vanilla Cake. Using 8 inch pans your layers will be a little bit thicker and may take an extra minute in the oven – use a toothpick to check for doneness.

  3. This is the best cake ever, having worked in restaurants and hotels my whole life I can attest this is the best homemade cake I have ever eaten. The cake is versatile as a base with anything mix in or frosting, the chocolate and vanilla buttercream frostings are fantastic as well if you cut the sugar down. I only put in 2 1/2 to 3 cups and it was plenty sweet I thought. Added a knob more butter and two spoons of sour cream to thicken without sweeting or changing the flavor. This cake and frosting works great to layer with curds also. Great job sally!

  4. I love your fluffy & moist coconut cake recipe so much, I want to try this one too. Do you have an idea how high the cake will be if I bake it in a 9 x 13″ pan?

    1. Yes, see recipe note 🙂

  5. Hi Belma, No recipe changes are necessary if using 10 inch cake pans. The bake time will be slightly shorter since the layers will be thinner, though I’m unsure of exact time. Use a toothpick to check for doneness!

  6. Wonderful cake! I made this a few weeks ago and it was a big hit. The best white cake I’ve ever had. Do you think it would hold up as a tiered cake? I was thinking of making this recipe (but maybe 3 layers) and putting a 6 inch tier on top like in your wedding cake recipe. I would use dowels.

    1. Hi Michelle, I’m so happy it was a hit! With the proper dowels/supports it should hold up to a 6 inch tier on top. Let me know if you try it!

  7. Hello Sally, I think the weight measurements for this recipe may be off. When I tried to make it I thought 250g of flour seems a bit light for 2.5 cups as a standard cup is around 120g itself. When i tried sifting scooping leveling and the weighing it always came out as more, but when baking I always follow weights so i went with the weight. The batter was so running I even added extra flour. However, when banking it was still moist to the point of being sticky and the centers cooked but never fully rose. I do have to say though, THE FLAVOR WAS INCREDIBLE!. I will definitely try and make this again, but I think I will have to adjust the flour ratio.

    1. Hi Ben! I’m glad you enjoyed this cake and are eager to make a slight change. 2 and 1/2 cups of sifted cake flour is close to 250g. Make sure you are sifting the cake flour before measuring. Thank you for reporting back!

      1. Hello Sally, thanks for your fast reply. I did remake it using cup measuring instead of weight. I did sift and first before as well as this time. Also, as a note, I am using the flour cornstarch substitution as I don’t have any cake flour, this could account for the weight difference. Weighed it was around 325g though. The cake came out perfect this time. Thank you. Also, I loved your pat a choux recipe, much better than the one on good eats!

  8. Great recipe!! Can I add some passion fruit curd to the batter to make a passion fruit cake? Do you think I should maybe put less sugar in as well due to the weather passion fruit?
    Will it also be ok to substitute the butter for oil?

    1. I don’t recommend adding curd to the batter as that would make your batter too wet. You can however layer the curd between the layers. For the best flavor I recommend sticking with butter but you can try coconut oil as you need a solid to cream with the sugar.

      1. Thank you for the great advice.

  9. I am going to make this cake for Father’s Day. Would it be OK for me to eat in a little bit of almond extract along with the vanilla extract. I’m almost sure it is by always like to have that little bit of reassurance. Thank you

    1. Definitely. I would add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons at the most and the other 1 and 1/2 teaspoons can be vanilla extract.

  10. My cake came out very dense. I used your 6 inch round cake recipe. Flavors were great and loved the buttercream recipe. Not sure why the cake was not more light?

  11. I made this cake for my husband for Father’s Day & of COURSE it was a hit BUT…I was NOT prepared for JUST how much I’d LOVE it! I’ve made your mini vanilla cupcakes as per your book , THIS was different, or at least for ME. I grew up eating Pepperidge Farms Vanilla cake etc. both parents were chefs but we LOVED their cakes. Well, FINALLY I can make it BETTER than theirs…THANKS to YOU! As I grew older, I’d buy 2 of them, one for the family the other for ME! I was worried that I may have beat the batter too much as it wasn’t thick like you said BUT looked just like yours. I also brought clear vanilla for the frosting & you were RIGHT…AGAIN, the difference in color was as you stated. BE SAFE & HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

  12. Hi! Will this recipe hold up well under fondant?

  13. Jolene Langstieh says:

    Hi Sally can I reduce the sugar quantity?

    1. Hi Jolene, you can try. Just keep in mind that sugar is also used for texture and moisture so if you reduce the sugar you will notice the cake isn’t as moist or soft. (And, of course, not as sweet.)

  14. Hi Sally!
    I am making a birthday cake this week, three 8″ layers with Swiss meringue buttercream. I am trying to decide between your white cake recipe, vanilla cake recipe, and your yellow cake recipe. I was thinking yellow cake would be the best contrast of flavors and textures, but I really can’t decide between them. Can you please share your thoughts? Thanks for all the amazing recipes!

    1. Hi Lauren! It simply depends on what you’re looking for. The yellow cake is a little denser than this white cake with strong buttery flavors. The vanilla cake is lighter than the yellow cake, but a little denser than this. It has strong vanilla flavor. This is the lightest of them all.

  15. Lucita Diaz says:

    Can I used buttermilk instead if whole milk? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Lucita, 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. Lucita Diaz says:

        Thank you so much for the suggestion and quick response! I am making it for my friend’s 30th Bday this week. 🙂 I enjoy all your recipes.

  16. tina mathis says:

    Hi, I apologize if you have answered this somewhere but I am wondering how many cups of batter this recipe yields. Thank you so much

    1. Hi Tina, about 7 cups.

  17. Would the frosting work with whole milk instead of heavy cream? Thanks

    1. In a pinch, yes.

  18. Hi Sally

    I am thinking of making this for my birthday next week in two 7 inch cake pans (or 3), as I want the cake to be a tall cake. Do you think the amount of buttercream frosting in this recipe would be enough to frost such a cake in the ombre fashion (i.e. piping then scraping off) or should I make more frosting?

    1. Hi Amanda, This frosting should be enough but you can always make 1.5 times the amount if you want extra to decorate with. Enjoy!

  19. Jennifer Siegel says:

    Sally!! Once again a huge hit. Baked the cakes and icing on a Thursday and traveled a few hours on Friday, put it together on Saturday night. Added some fresh berries between the layers and on top. I feel so accomplished. Huge hit for my best friends birthday. Way better than the $60 bakery cake we buy every year. Thank you for all you do to help us home bakers succeed!!

  20. Hi Sally,
    Do you have any substitute for eggs for the above cake recipe and taste as good ,please?

    1. None that I have successfully tested.

    2. Hi Sally,
      Love your vanilla cake and strawberry muffins recipe previously! Can i know if i can use this recipe to make a tall double barrel 3×6 inches cake pls? Thanks for your advice!

  21. Hi there. Love your recipes! If I wanted to make this cake and put fruit inside, would I buttercream both sides then put the fruit in between? I wanted to use your cream cheese frosting instead too.

    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, Yes you can put fresh fruit between the layers! Simply add a thin layer of whichever frosting you choose and layer the fruit on top of it, and then stack your second cake layer on top. Enjoy!

  22. This was a fantastic recipe. One of the best cakes I’ve made, if not the best, and I’ve been baking for 40 years! I followed it as closely as possible. Usually, everyone likes the cakes I bake, except myself! This one is one I could happily eat without sharing

  23. Hi. I would like to make this cake for my daughter’s 8th bday this weekend. I was planning to make a double layer, 9×13. If I make the recipe twice(not doubling), would that give me enough batter ? Any tips? 🙂

    1. Hi Kim, this recipe as written is enough batter for a 9×13 inch cake (see recipe note). You can make two 9×13 inch cakes separately, yes.

  24. Help…. the mixture curdled when I added the milk. I made sure all of the ingredients were room temperature. Any advice please? Many Thanks

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hannah, it likely curdled because the milk was colder than the batter, even a few degrees can make a difference. The cake usually bakes up just fine though! Thanks for giving this recipe a try 🙂

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