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 (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 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

590 Comments

  1. Hi sally! does it make a difference using a whisk attachment or a paddle attachment just wondering? Would apreciate the response!

    1. Hi Angelica! It doesn’t make a huge difference, but I find a whisk attachment works better for this particular cake. Really cuts down on those lumps of batter!

  2. This may sound like a dumb question, but I’m a very novice baker… If I only have skim milk, could I substitute heavy cream instead or maybe a mixture of both?? Thanks!!!!

    1. I am going to try this recipe and I was wondering if it is possible to add sprinkles inside the batter to make Funfetti cake or would it be best done in a different way.

  3. Good morning. I’m hoping to make this cake for my son’s 6th birthday party. I’m a novice at baking for a crowd. Would a 9×13 cake pan serve 20+ people? Half kids, half adults… Thx!

  4. I just made this cake it didn’t rise like the one in your picture I followed the directions completely. I have no idea why everything was fresh including the flour. I’m just getting ready to make the icing. So I haven’t cut into the cake. It’s for my grandsons birthday today

  5. Hello… thinking about making this cake. But want it to taste like wedding cake… usually vanilla and almond give this flavor. What ratio do you suggest? And I need a wedding cake frosting too… any suggestions?

  6. Hi Sally,

    I want to make this cake for this coming weekend, but don’t have time to bake and frost in one go. If I want to serve the cake on Saturday, how early cake I bake it?
    For example, can I bake the cake on Tuesday, freeze the layers, and then thaw and frost on Friday?

    1. Hi Hannah! Bake the cake as soon as you’d like and freeze the layers. Thaw and frost on Friday. Keep at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. 🙂

  7. What measurement of egg whites would you use if you just used an egg white container instead of individual eggs?

  8. What measurements do I need for a 2 layer 12” x 18” cake? Should I just double everything? And thank you for sharing your recipes! Every one I’ve tried has turned out so tasty!

    1. Hi Sarah! I would prepare the batter twice– do not double. Doubling often risks over-mixing or under-mixing. That should be plenty for your layer cake, though my vanilla cake recipe yields more batter and may be the better recipe just to be sure you have enough. Again, make that batter twice.

  9. Hi Sally, I wonder if you know if frozen (then thawed) egg whites would work in these cakes?
    Sorry for the very strange question!! – I was SO excited to make this cake and had used the egg yolks the day before in other things (your amazing key lime pie and choc chip cookies to be precise!!) but then something came up and I couldn’t make the white cake 🙁 so I froze the whites since they were all 5 already together.
    I have heard you can use egg whites that have been frozen but have never done it myself so wonder if you have any knowledge on this? Thanks so much! 🙂 I just reeeaaaalllly want to try this cake!

    1. Hi Robyn! Using frozen (and thawed) egg whites shouldn’t be a problem. Let me know how you like the cake!

  10. Hi Sally,
    Can I use pure vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds like you use in your vanilla cupcakes recipe? Would you recommend using half of the amount of extract your cake recipe calls for and then adding the vanilla bean seeds?

    1. Hi Areli! Yes, definitely. I would use 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract plus the seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean.

  11. Hi after making how should I store the leftovers?? Can I store them on the counter or do I need to refrigerate?

  12. Hi Sally,

    I’m a big fan of your lemon blueberry cake – I even use the batter to make my son’s birthday cake each year (which I decorate with various piped designs using your buttercream). This year, I want to make a two layer 9 x 13 cake with an oreo buttercream in between the layers. One top of the cake I’ll be piping a soccer goal and grass, on top of which I’m going to place a small frosted half-dome soccer ball (baked with the same batter as the cake, but in a 1 qt glass bowl). No fondant – and I plan to use your recipe for “favorite vanilla buttercream” for decorating. I’m just trying to decide which cake recipe will be better suited for this: This one or your vanilla cake shown here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/vanilla-cake/. What do you think? If the latter, I’m guessing that two batches should do the trick, since 2 x 9 inch pans is equivalent to a 9 x 13 inch and the recipe is for 3 x 9 inch layers?

    Thanks!

  13. Hey there. I would like to turn this into a confetti cake. May seem like a silly question, but what is the best step to add the sprinkles? Also, are there sprinkles you would advise not using (i.e. ones that won’t bleed into the batter)

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Alex! You can definitely add sprinkles to this cake batter. I recommend using about 1/2 – 2/3 cup sprinkles. Gently mix them in after the batter is done. Avoid nonpareils (the little balls) as they instantly bleed their color.

  14. Hi Sally, I know this has been answered before, but I love this cake and want to use this for making 6″ cake. I tried your 6″ cake recipe as you have suggested but it didn’t come out as good as this one. Is there any specific reason we cannot use this to divide the batter in 3 6″ pans? Thanks

    1. Hi Swati! You can absolutely use this batter for a 6 inch cake, but you will have enough for about 3 3-layer 6 inch cakes.

      1. Thank you for replying so quickly Sally. Could you please advise the time for baking and the temperature. Thanks

  15. Hi Sally,
    I want to make a vanilla chocolate layered cake. I would like them to have the same consistency and I really like this recipe. Can this cake be converted to a chocolate cake?
    Thanks!

  16. Hi Sally,

    Do you know how I could adapt this to a red velvet cake? I absolutely love the texture . It’s the right balance of fluffy and moist.

    Thanks

  17. This is a great recipe! Sally, would it make terribly much difference if I used vanilla yogurt instead of sour cream in this recipe? I’m not a fan of the tangy tartness I feel sour cream gives the cake, and I have substituted yogurt for sour cream before. What do you think?

  18. Thank you so much for this brilliant recipe. Soft and moist and best of all no smell or taste of eggs. I halved the recipe and it still came out well. Used it as a base for my pralines and cream cake. Everyone just loved it.

  19. Hi Sally, I’d like to make this a 3 layer cake in my 8inch pans, do you think I should double the recipe or would the one you have here work ok?

    1. Hi Emily! The cake batter recipe, as written, can be split between 3 8-inch cake pans. The bake time will be about the same. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  20. Hi Sally! (I apologize if this is posted twice, my internet went out.) I am making your Chocolate Zucchini Cake x2, for my son and daughter’s joint birthday party. I’d like to use this vanilla buttercream (also x2) to frost both cakes. I also have to pipe The Flash’s symbol on one cake and borders around both cakes. Will this recipe (x2) be enough or should I make another 1/4-1/2 the recipe for the decorating? Thx!

    1. Hi Nicia, It really depends on how thick you pile on the frosting when you make the cakes! I usually error on the side making too much frosting – and if you have leftover do you know you can freeze unused buttercream?

      1. Ooh! I can freeze it? Good to know! I’d rather have too much leftover than too little for my little project. Thanks Sally!

  21. Hi Sally so I finally got to make this for a colleagues birthday and it was fantastic!! Was gobbled up super fast! I loved the ‘bakery-style’ moist texture! I asked earlier about using frozen/thawed egg whites and it worked perfectly I think, so thanks for the reply and for another fantastic recipe!! 🙂

  22. Hi Sally, when you say 2.5 cups sifted cake flour, is that sifted and then measured… or measured and then sifted? Or does that not make a difference? I made this cake and it didn’t come out as light and fluffy as others I’ve made from your site so I’m wondering if I ended up with too much flour because I measured and then sifted.

    Also, is this the recipe you would use as a base for a rainbow cake? I’m assuming a yellow cake recipe wouldn’t take the food coloring as well.

    1. Hi Mary, the rule of thumb in any recipe is to follow the order that it’s written. So “2.5 cups sifted cake flour” means to sift and then measure. Where “2.5 cups cake flour, sifted” would mean measure and then sift. I hope that makes sense!

  23. I love this recipe, I made it for my mom’s birthday, it was amazing! What would I need to do to able to make two 12″ rounds of this cake?

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