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. ♥

white-layer-cake-5

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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

754 Comments

  1. I love the classics!! My readers have requested some classic cakes for this year and I’m slowly working through them. There’s nothing like the classics when it comes to cake!

    PS I haven’t seen you since before Joey was born!! WAHH! 🙁 I know you’re busy with your book and life but I’m crossing my fingers 2017 brings us another Panera date! Happy New Year, Sally! xoxo

  2. What a great recipe to start the new year! I love a simple white cake but without the chemical taste you get from boxes and premades. I have a question on the milk. If I use evaporated milk and water (1/2 and 1/2 ratio), would that be the same as whole milk?

  3. Oh yeah! White cake is an all time favorite for me and I can’t imagine ever having enough versions to try. This one looks like it might take top place though!

  4. This cake looks totally divine! And I bought those rainbow whisks for a friend for her wedding – they’re even more adorable in person! So glad I saw them on your site. She’s going to love them 🙂

  5. Sometimes a simple vanilla cake is better than chocolate – did I really just say that? In all seriousness, you can’t start off the new year badly if you start off with cake. My birthday this year is slowly approaching (but we just had Christmas??) and seeing how you’re one of my go-to bloggers for cakes & cupcakes, I’ve been looking through your archives trying to decide which one to make this year (yup I make my own birthday cake, or at least help). Now it’s a toss up between this one decorated with oreos or your chocolate layer cake decorated with mini peanut butter cups… This is why “get healthy” resolutions never stick at my house. Another Happy New Year, Sally & can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of 2017! 🙂

  6. I have been hoping you would post a white vanilla cake recipe! Yay!!! So excited to try this!!! I just made a white vanilla cake, it had great flavor but not the nice fluffy texture I was looking for, this looks like the perfect recipe!

  7. This is too funny because one of my 2017 goals is to make more cakes than cupcakes.  And I can vouch that your nail buttercream is THE BEST!  I always get so many compliments!

  8. Could I make these as cupcakes (for my almost 5 yo’s birthday at school) or should I just make your previous recipe? THANKS!

  9. Being my Queen of Sprinkles, do you have any suggestions to store my leftover red/green, holiday colored sprinkles till November when the holiday marathon baking begin–again?  Or do they expire?
    *None of my sprinkle containers have expiration dates.  Even the ones from Wilton. ?

    1. Honestly, I don’t think they expire within the year. Like another reader suggested, you can use red for Valentine’s Day and green for St. Patrick’s Day! If the red and green are already mixed, what about a recipe where the sprinkles are inside the batter? You may not notice the colors as much. Or you can add different colored sprinkles to the red/green. Like add pink sprinkles, blue, yellow, etc. Then it’s not as noticeable!

      Here are some recipes with sprinkles *inside* 🙂
      Easy Funfetti Cake
      Funfetti Buttermilk Pancakes
      Funfetti Sheet Cake
      Easy Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes
      Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars

    2. Brenda,

      I am a hoarder of sprinkles, sequins, nonpareils, etc., etc. This time of year I hit all of the craft stores, (Not to mention Tj Maxx, Home Goods, etc) and load up on the clearance decorating supplies. Some of my supplies are two years old, and I’ve yet to sicken anyone!!

  10. This looks amazing!! I’ve been looking for a perfect white cake recipe. There’s just something so classy and versatile about white cake!

  11. This cake looks delicious! I can’t wait to add it to the other recipes I want to bake before I head back to college! 

  12. I am making your Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting tomorrow for my grandsons 1st birthday which is the 3rd time making it. It is so moist and delicious!! Now I’m torn. I was always taught to add the dry ingredients in 3 additions to the creamed butter mixture. Is that how you add it????

    1. Sometimes. But recently I’ve found that it’s just an extra nitpicky step and I honestly do NOT notice a difference in the finished cake’s texture by adding the dry all at once and mixing slowly.

      1. Thank for your answer! I have one more. In the directions for the cake batter it says to use the whisk attachment to mix together. Is that right or do you use the paddle attachment???

  13. Happy New year Sally. I am wishing you and your family good health and lots of love in 2017. I love how you started the new blogging year with a pretty cake. Hugs from California 🙂

  14. Oh my gosh!! I can already tell this will be my go to white cake. It looks simple and stunning. You are amazing Sally

  15. Leftover egg yolks a pain? Not in this house. Personally, I think that slice of vanilla cake looks lonely and is screaming for a side of chocolate ice cream. (Disclosure…… I am a chocoholic!) The NYT has an ice cream recipe- I think it’s called “The only ice cream recipe you’ll need.” that calls for 6 egg yolks, but it says you can use less.

    Happy to relieve yours, or anyone else’s pain!!!!!

    P.S. Sent my daughter back to Israel with a batch of the Seriously Fudge Brownies, she was one happy camper! I was worried they wouldn’t make it through customs- TSA might force her to share, LOL!

    1. I will have to look up that recipe! Chocolate ice cream would never be turned away in my house (especially on this cake!) And so glad your daughter liked the brownies!

  16. Hello baking queen, happy 2017! May I suggest using the leftover egg yolks to make a buttery French buttercream? 😀 I recently got a cake slicer (to cut layers of cake) and I’m excited to use it! Please blog more cake recipes.

  17. White cake with white icing is my favorite food. Ask anyone, that’s the answer I give when asked the age-old question. And seriously, this one looks stinking amazing. I am totally making this for the next occasion around here… even if that occasion is celebrating the weekend!

  18. Can’t wait to try this recipe!  Have you tried it with almond extract instead of vanilla? I love almond in my white cake! Thanks for sharing!

  19. YUM!!!!  And cute to boot!  Love the addition of sour cream!  Its the best moisture retainer in white layer cakes without messing with the flavor or color too much!  Love it!   

  20. My birthday is next month and my favorite cake is an all white cake (this coming from a chocoholic who doesn’t like chocolate cake, I know something is wrong with me), but is there any way to make this gluten free? Unfortunately, neither me nor my boyfriend can eat gluten. He has Celiac. If not this recipe, do you recommend another? Thanks Sally and happy new year!!

  21. This cake looks absolutely delightful! I love your cake recipes, and I am excited about another one to add to my cake recipe repertoire. 😉

  22. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Sally!!!! Finally, I have found a ‘from scratch’ white cake recipe that I can trust will come out tasting and looking great too!

    I have not tried it as yet :p, but, I have so much faith in your recipes that I know this one will be great too!!

    Your website has truly been an inspiration and joy in my life. I wish I had more time and $$$ to try all of your recipes, but this is definitely one I will try soon.

    I can’t wait!!! Keep the wonderful recipes coming! Thank you!!!

  23. Happy New Year Sally! And thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes which I’ve been making all year round in 2016!❤️

      1. This is my original comment not sure why it was only showing half—> Happy New Year Sally! And thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes which I’ve been making all year round in 2016!❤️

      2.  And this white cake IT IS the best start of the year as I’m actually just looking for a great cake recipe (rather than boring pound cake) for my daughter’s 1st birthday! So my question is whether this cake is suitable for a two-tiered birthday cake, since it’s so soft and fluffy? I’m thinking to cover and decorate it with fondant on the outside. Thanks again in advance! Xxx

  24. Oh dear. I should be naughty and make this for myself for my birthday later this month. It’s hard with only two people in the house though…and only one of us likes cake! 🙂

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