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, coconut cake, strawberry cake and pistachio cake, too!
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 used it as the base for several other cake recipes I have published including espresso chocolate chip cake, pineapple coconut cake, cookies and cream cake, and the others mentioned above. I even reduced the quantity of cake batter down to make the perfect 1 layer pineapple upside down cake.
White Cake Success Tips
- 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.
- 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.
- Sour Cream: Sour cream is the cake’s security blanket; it keeps everything moist. It plays the same important role in coffee cake, too.
- 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 including this popular confetti cake.
- 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 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 chocolate cream cheese frosting. For a lighter, less sweet option, I love pairing this cake with whipped frosting (pictured below). Each of these frostings are 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!
I even used this exact cake recipe for Elmo cake and added chocolate chips for Cookie Monster cake! It’s such a versatile cake and always receives compliments from taste testers and party goers.
You can also frost this cake with whipped frosting:
Favorite White Layer Cake
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 24 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours
- Yield: serves 10-12
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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.
- 2 and 1/2 cups (285g) 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*
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.)
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer or Handheld Mixer | 9-Inch Round Cake Pans | Cake Turntable | Straight Spatula for frosting | Round Cake Carrier for storage
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Reader Comments & Reviews
Hi, this is my favorite cake but I want 3 layers but white only. Could I 1.5x the recipe to produce 3 layers? I’m kind of scared to because I follow your recipes precisely and wondering if anyone has tried 1.5ing this recipe. Thanks!
I love this cake!!! Made it many times. If I was to make a 12 x 18 cake, would I 1.5 x the recipe? Would I still bake at 350 degrees? What are your thoughts? Thank you!!!
Hi Teresa, we haven’t tested this recipe in that size pan, so we aren’t sure what the bake time would be. As for 1.5x the recipe, I think that would depend on how deep your 12×18 pan is. Is it shallow like a 12×17 jelly roll pan, or deep like a 9×13 sheet cake pan? If it’s shallow, you probably don’t need to 1.5x the recipe, and the bake time would be shorter, as the cake will be thin. If you’re going for the same depth as a sheet cake, but your baking pan is 12×18 instead of 9×13, then you would probably need to 1.5x the recipe. Keep the bake temperature the same. Hope this helps and your cake turns out wonderfully!
Hi, would it work to mix in some fresh berries in the cake batter? Or would they just sink?
Hi Abbie! You can, yes. We recommend 1 cup of fresh blueberries. Frozen blueberries can be pretty heavy. Toss them in a little flour before stirring into the batter. Other berries should work as well.
If I use whole eggs, will the cake still come ok ok? A little denser?
Hi Patti! The egg whites are key to this cake’s fluffy texture. We don’t recommend using whole eggs. You can use egg whites from a carton if needed.
What can I substitute for sour cream? Is the standard 3/4c buttermilk ok?
Hi Miche, A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cake may not be as light. If you wanted to use buttermilk, the best way to do so 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.
My daughter is gluten free so I was wondering if I can substitute gluten free flour for the cake flour. I currently use the Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking flour
Hi Stacey! We haven’t tested gluten free flour in this recipe so are unsure of the results. Let us know if you give it a try.
The weight for the cake flour is incorrect – should it be 385g?
Hi Rachael, the weight is correct. You can read more about properly measuring baking ingredients!
I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday and it was a hit! I already gave out this recipe and the triple chocolate to a few people. Everyone was so impressed!
I loved this cake and will definitely try using this base to make the coconut cake as stated above. I did not change one thing and made exactly as directed. If you’re looking for a white cake you can’t go wrong!
Best white cake I’ve ever made! THANK YOU!
Can this cake, unfrosted, be frozen for for three months? The freezing instructions mentioned frosted cake only.
Yes, absolutely. Here’s our best tips for freezing cake layers!
Will this recipe stay moist in the refrigerator. I typically stick with chiffon for that reason.
Cakes will dry out when stored in the fridge. See recipe notes for our recommended make-ahead instructions!
Great tips !! Thank you.
I made this recipe today and lived everything about it except the sweetness level. It was to sweet for my preference. Is it possible to reduce the sugar, even if just by 1/4 cup? Thanks for your help.
Hi Tiffany, while you can certainly try reducing the sugar, keep in mind that it plays a role in the texture and structure of the cake as well, so reducing it may impact the final outcome of the cake beyond taste. Did you make the cake with vanilla buttercream? You may enjoy this not-so-sweet whipped frosting instead!
I love your recipes thank you! I’m planning to make this Friday to serve on Saturday for my daughters birthday. Can I make the entire cake including frosting it and refrigerate it overnight? I was going to pull it out in the morning to get room temp before serving. Do you think the it will be as good as frosting it day of?
Hi Kelly! It would be best to store at room temperature overnight so you don’t dry out the cake. After decorating anything with buttercream or cream cheese frosting, it’s fine for 1 day at room temperature. After that, we would refrigerate it.
Would extra fine premium flour work instead of cake flour? I’m in the UK and this seems to be the closest thing to cake flour I can find!
Hi Elizabeth, if you’re unable to find cake flour, here is a quick DIY cake flour that will work in a pinch!
Thanks! Another quick question…will Greek yogurt work instead of sour cream??
Yes, Greek yogurt will work!
I’m considering making this cake for my dad’s birthday. His favorite cake is wedding cake (almond flavored). Can I substitute part or all of the vanilla extract in the cake and frosting with almond to achieve the classic wedding cake taste?
Hi Michelle, We recommend using 1.5 teaspoons almond extract and 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract for an almond cake. Hope your dad enjoys it!
I made this for my birthday yesterday, and it was a total hit! So delicious. I often struggle with homemade cakes being too dense, but this one was perfect. I added a layer of fresh strawberries in between and along the sides as well. Simple recipe and great instructions. I did have to bake it almost 8-10 min longer than suggested, but likley just my oven.
I followed this recipe to a t and it was AMAZING. So fluffy and has great flavour. It’s a simple white cake but hits the spot. Thanks so much
Hi. I am planning to make this cake. Can you use evaporated milk or condensed milk instead of regular milk? thank you
Hi Kiwi, whole milk is ideal. I would not use regular milk. Evaporated milk may work, but I haven’t specifically tested it.
Can I make this in a Loaf Pan and bake it for about 30 minutes?
Hi Isabel, this batter is too much as written for a loaf pan. Here’s everything you need to know about cake pan sizes and conversions. You may wish to try this marble loaf cake recipe instead—it’s a bit denser and more buttery than this white cake, but you could try that for a vanilla loaf cake (and simply skip the portion of the recipe where you use half the batter to make chocolate batter).
I am making this cake for my sister-in-law’s birthday and am trying to budget my time. How far in advanced can this cake be baked and then frosted? I was planning on baking the cake on Thursday and frosting it on Friday to be eaten on Sunday. Is this too far in advanced to keep the cakes freshness?
The fresher, the better. I do think that’s a bit too far in advance to have a perfectly delicious white cake with a texture that hasn’t changed from what is intended. I would move everything by 1 day if possible. Bake on Friday, frost on Saturday, serve on Sunday.
Hi i cant find cake flour in the UK, can i use extra fine self raising flour instead which is advertised as sponge flour? Will i still need to use baking soda and powder?
Hi Manpreet, we don’t recommend using self rising flour. Here’s our guide to making a DIY version of cake flour if needed. Happy baking!