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, cookies and cream cake, strawberry cake and pistachio cake, too!

overhead image of white cake with a slice cut topped with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles

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 on a blue plate

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.
  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. ♥

ingredients for my favorite white cake

pouring white cake batter into cake pan

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 layer cake with vanilla buttercream

slice of white cake with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles on a blue plate

Simple, yet glamorous. Happy baking!

Print
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slice of white cake with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles on a blue plate

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 (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*

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. 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.
  5. 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 cupcake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles on a purple plate

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

578 Comments

  1. Hi, this is now my go to white cake recipe. I’ve decided next time I make the cake to put the lemon curd (from my yolks left over) between the layers.

    1. Cathy Licht says:

      I just love this recipe. The cake is light and delicious. Made cupcakes today and they turned out perfectly! Half recipe made twelve good sized cupcakes. I’ll never use another white cake recipe. This is a new family favorite, along with my Hersey’s Deluxe Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake. You can Google the recipe but I still have it from the back of the chocolate box from like 1970.

  2. Jan Irmscher says:

    Can I use the Cage-Free liquid egg whites instead of fresh eggs?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jan, Yes, you can use carton egg whites. The carton should give measurements for substituting for real egg whites.

  3. Jan Irmscher says:

    Thank you for the quick reply. Baking today!

  4. Is there something I could use in replace of heavy cream in the frosting?

  5. Hello! I’m not sure if this was asked yet (i love reading comments and reviews but i’m short on time!) How make cupcakes does this cake recipe make? Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lizz! See recipe notes for cupcake details

  6. Hello, I want to make this cake and use a white icing so I can decorate it but my husband doesn’t like buttercream….any other suggestions for a white icing/frosting that I can use to decorate? I’ll be using gel food colouring. Thanks, I love all your recipes, they turn out perfect every time!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Autumn, for a less sweet buttercream, we recommend our Swiss meringue buttercream. Or, how about whipped cream like we do with this fresh berry cream cake?

      1. I just made this cake for the first time and it turned out fabulous. Moist and flavourful. My only twist was I used gel food colouring to turn it into a ‘rainbow’ cake….I doubled the recipe and made 6 thin layers, each a different colour (my 4 year old wanted a rainbow cake for her birthday). I used the buttercream icing recipe that goes with the cake for the outside as well as decorating (flowers and a rainbow, again, for a 4 year old) and your cream cheese icing for in between the layers (my husbands request). It was a hit! I wish I could include a picture. Thanks for another perfect recipe and also thanks for posting in metric and imperial, that is a huge help.

  7. Hi, I would like to ask why sour cream is needed and can it be left out?

  8. I love this cake! It is delicious and has a great texture. Quick question…can it be used as the base of a 2 tier cake? I’m planning to stack 4 6” layers on 4 9” layers. Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pam, With the proper dowels/supports it should hold up to a 6 inch tier on top. You can see exactly how we support this size tiered cake in the post on Simple Homemade Wedding Cakes.

  9. Sally this cake recipe is the best… I was wondering if I doubled this recipe would it be enough for a 11×18 sheet cake? and what would the time be? Thank for sharing your WONDERFUL RECIPES

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re unsure exactly how much batter you will need for an 11×18 sheet cake, but you can use our Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions Guide to determine the correct amount. We’re unsure of the bake time, use a toothpick to test for doneness. You may also love this Vanilla Sheet Cake recipe!

      1. Thanks—I believe they’re 9” but even for 8” it seems like a much longer bake time. Still, they came out great after 10 mins more so no harm!

  10. I love the resulting cake, but I found the 25 minutes bake time wasn’t nearly enough (barely set in the middle). I haven’t had an issue with another other cakes in these pans—any idea why they might need so much more time? At least 10-15 more mins

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Matt! Are you using two 9-inch cake pans? Using 8-inch pans will result in a longer bake time. Always use your best judgment and bake as long as the cakes need. Thanks for giving this recipe a try!

      1. It has just came out of the oven! Pure success! Thank you!

  11. I made this cake yesterday. Oh wow it is SO good. Light moist crumb and a lovely vanilla taste. I did use 2 x 8 inch cake tins and it did take longer to cook but I just kept checking it every few minutes. This will definitely be my go to birthday cake recipe . Thank you

  12. Jocelyn Jones says:

    Am I able to use Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jocelyn! Plain greek yogurt is a great sub for the sour cream.

    2. Would chilling the layers in the fridge dry out the cake? I’d like to do a crumb coat but don’t want to end up with a dry cake in the process. Similarly, would placing the tightly wrapped, unfrosted layers in the freezer ruin the cake? Thanks for the delicious recipe!

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Brionna! Yes, chilling the cake in the fridge can dry it out, but if only chilling for a short amount of time for a crumb coat, the cake will be fine. Freezing unfrosted layers is the best way to make a cake ahead of time – we made a post about it that you may find helpful!

  13. Hi! I wanted to make this for my husbands birthday cake and he was requesting mini chocolate chips. Can I add it to the batter before throwing it in the oven? Would you recommend another recipe for the chips to hold up better?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nim, absolutely! 3/4 – 1 cup mini chocolate chips would be plenty. Hope it’s a hit!

  14. Hi Sally – we love this cake base. Can we add lemon to it, and if so, how much do you recommend? We’ve done your lemon buttermilk which is excellent but would love to use this as a base if possible. Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hilary! You can certainly experiment with adding lemon to this cake, otherwise this Lemon Cake is always a hit!

  15. I’m planning to make a 10” Bundt cake with this recipe for a large “doughnut” looking cake. Will this be the right amount of batter? Any recommendations for temp and cook time? Thank you. Your site is my go-to for all my baking needs!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Heather, this batter will fit into a Bundt pan. We haven’t tested it so we’re unsure of the bake time needed. We’d bake it at 350. Let us know how it turns out for you!

  16. I am planning on making a square 3 tiered cake. 14″ base, 10″ middle layer and 6″ top layer. I will be making 2 layers of each size. Will this cake hold up to that? Does this recipe yield 8 cups of batter? I’m trying to convert to how many batches of batter I’ll have to make. Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tracy! We recommend following our Homemade Wedding Cake recipe as a guide for a tiered cake- it will be best to use cake dowels and boards for support. This recipe yields about 7 cups of batter. You can use our cake pan sizes and conversions guide to find out how much batter you’ll need.

  17. Hi! I’m looking to use this recipe to make a 9in 3 layer cake, so I plan to 1.5x the recipe? The recipe calls for 5 egg whites originally so how many should I use since I am going to halve the recipe? 2?

    I wanted to use this recipe instead of your other recipe because this uses only egg whites. Should I make the 1.5x batter at the same time or split it up?

    Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa! We usually recommend our vanilla cake for a three layer cake, but you should be able to multiple this recipe by 1.5, if desired, though be very careful not to over or under mix the batter. Our general rule for halving an egg is to crack it open, beat the yolk and white together with a fork, measure the volume (should be a few Tbsp), then use half. Let us know how it goes!

      1. Hi! I did a test run by just halving the recipe, so for 1 egg I actually separated the white from the yolk and then took half the white in volume for the recipe.

        After baking I let the cake pan rest for 10 mins then took the sponge layer out. But while I was flipping it, it crumbled in half! I tried moving it gently and it teared apart. Was the sponge layer suppose to be that fragile?

        I am not sure what I did wrong…thank you for the advice!

  18. Andrea Dettelbach says:

    Fabulous Cake! Do you see any problem with folding in sprinkles to make it a funfetti cake?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andrea! You can fold in 1/2 -2/3 cup of sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils) to this batter for a funfetti cake.

  19. I don’t know why I went to a site other than yours. I have so much success here, but somehow when searching for a white cake recipe I missed this. I just failed with another recipe and so I want to try this one. I’ve made several of your cakes and they’ve all been perfect! Anyway, how white is this cake. I’m planning to use gel color for two of three layers and the third I want to be as white as possible (red, white, and blue checkerboard is the idea). If you don’t think it is white enough for that idea would you recommend using (shudder) imitation vanilla flavor to sub for the vanilla extract? I hate the idea but could see the extract making the cake a little more off white… Thanks in advance.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelly, we hope you love this cake! I would say it’s an off-white. Using imitation vanilla will help, we find that the color of your butter can make a big difference as well – best to look for a lighter one if possible for an extra-white cake!

      1. Thank you. My last white cake was a bomb – so I think I’ll still try yours instead maybe with the imitation, maybe not. All the best!

  20. Hi, I followed the recipe exactly but my cake didn’t rise in the oven at all. It looks very flat. I was wondering if you could tell me what the cause of this is. This is also my first time baking a cake, so I’m definitely not an expert. Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nina! Are your baking soda and baking powder fresh? We find they lose their strength after about 3 months or so. The cake doesn’t have a ton of rise, but it shouldn’t be completely flat. It’s also possible it was slightly over mixed, causing it to be dense and squat. Let us know if we can help troubleshoot further, and thanks so much for giving this recipe a try!

  21. How do I turn this recipe into a reverse creaming method?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julie, we haven’t tested it so we can’t be sure. You may enjoy this vanilla sheet cake which utilizes the reverse cream. (Love it too!)

  22. My recommendation is to whip the egg whites separately and fold them in. My Mom always did that with a white cake with these exact ingredients. Cake flour etc !! Always amazing. Great recipe

  23. Hi, I wanted to ask your thoughts on adding almond flavoring?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jessica! For an almond cake, we recommend using 1.5 teaspoons almond extract and 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract. Happy baking!

  24. Hello Sally,

    I have tried this recipe with a special shaped pan and it turned out really well! Just wondering if I can use this one to do 2 of the 9 x 13 sheet (doubling recipe) for a 2-layer sheet cake. I want to use cut strawberries and fresh cream in the layer. Would the layers be too heavy? Is this the right recipe to do so? I am planning to do it for a special occasion. Also, what do you recommend I use to pipe the letters on the whipped cream?
    Thanks, Danielle

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Danielle! Yes, this cake should do well as a two layer sheet cake. We recommend making two batches of cake batter instead of doubling for best results. Vanilla buttercream is great for piping!

  25. My daughter wants a Confetti Cake for her birthday, would this recipe stand up to the addition of Sprinkles in the batter? I am worried that the sprinkles will impact the cake rising…

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jennifer, You can fold in 1/2 -2/3 cup of sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils) to this batter for a funfetti cake. Enjoy!

  26. Hi, I’m trying this recipe today but I accidentally picked up curd/yoghurt instead of sour cream. Google says add an extra tsp of baking soda… Is that alright or should I stick with the amount of baking soda in the recipe?

  27. Sarah Clavin says:

    I’m looking at making this for my daughters birthday. Could I put strawberry between the layers and cover with the strawberry icing?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, absolutely. This cake would be delicious with strawberry frosting. You could also put strawberries between the layers if desired. You might want to add a ring of frosting around the strawberries so that they don’t slide out the edges. Hope it’s a hit for your daughter’s birthday!

    2. Hi Sally,
      I am making your triple chocolate cake (2 layers) and want to sandwich this cake (1 layer) in between. Is the white cake sturdy enough to hold 1 layer of your triple chocolate cake on top? I am making this in September.

      Thank you
      Michelle

      1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Michelle, Yes this white cake should be fine as the middle layer. Enjoy!

  28. Julie Genter says:

    Hi, this is the second time I’ve made this cake.
    My husband absolutely loves it !!!

    Thank you for sharing the recipe

    Julie

  29. Hi sally,

    I have made this cake a couple of times and everyone loved it. I have one issue that I can’t seem to solve though, each time I add the milk the batter splits. I tried leaving the milk out longer and adding less, also tried mixing in tiny amounts? Any ideas? (I mean the cake still turns out great but I’m pretty sure it would greater if it didn’t split right?) thanks Laura

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, When batter splits it’s usually because of different temperature ingredients. I know you said you leave the milk out, but make sure that your egg whites, sour cream, and butter are all room temperature also. You might find the post Room Temperature Ingredients Make a Difference helpful!

      1. Hi Sally

        I had the same issue. I kept at room temperature for 2hrs. Everything was room temperature but after I added milk it split.

  30. If I half the frosting recipe for a 9×13 cake will it be enough?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jill, this vanilla buttercream recipe yields enough to thinly frost a 9×13 inch cake!

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