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. ♥

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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. Do you think this cake would hold up well structurally for cutting and stacking into shapes? Specifically I plan to bake two 9×13 cakes, cut each one into 9 even rectangles, then stack two layers of rectangles per “car” arranged in a line like a train. So only 2 layers tall but cut before layering and frosting, if that makes sense.

    1. That does make sense and sounds SO cute! Yes, I think this cake should be able to be cut into rectangles before decorating. Be sure to share a picture by emailing me or tagging me on social media! 🙂

  2. So delicious!! This will be my go-to white cake going forward; the whole family went nuts for it. Close crumbs and moist while still having a light mouthfeel. I accidentally used 8″ pans instead of 9″ but whacked the temp down to 325 and baked another 15 min and it turned out great!

  3. Hi. I love the sound of your white cake and the vanilla cake, but I have a question. Can you use egg whites from a carton just for the two extra egg whites? I know you can’t do that for an Angel food cake, but is it okay in these two recipes?

      1. Hi Gene, For this cake only use only the egg whites – no yolks! You can use egg whites from a carton if you wish (just be sure they are 100% whites and not a product like Egg Beaters).

  4. Sally, I made this cake and love it but am wondering if you have used this recipe to make cupcakes instead? If so, do you have instructions for filling the pans and how many this recipe would make? Sorry if this is a repeat question but there are so many comments to sift through!

    Thank you!
    Erin

  5. Hello ,
    Could you please suggest if I can convert this cake into half sheet cake (12*17) cake for my sons birthday ?
    I always make it but now need it for a bigger gathering

    1. Hi Kiran, You can use this recipe as a written for a thinner half sheet cake or 1.5x the recipe for the half sheet pan. Doubling the recipe would be too much.

  6. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I just made it for my granddaughter’s 9th birthday. I actually made 2 because she wanted a soccer field; I made a 9 ×13 and a soccer ball. It took me much longer than 24 min to mix, but it was worth it. I also used the buttercream recipe but used almond instead of vanilla. It was nice and fluffy, but not as moist as my usual recipe, but I liked it and will make it again.

  7. I am so worried! My 5 year old distracted me and I didn’t add the sour cream, milk and vanilla until AFTER I added the flour … please tell me I did not ruin this cake?! I imagine it is still going to have GREAT flavor, but what texture should I expect?

    1. Thank you so much, Sheree! You can absolutely make this as a 9×13 cake. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Happy baking!

  8. Sounds great. If I wanted to make smaller 7″ cakes, how many tins would this recipe make? Also, at what temperature and for how long would I need to bake them? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Rhia! You could make about three 7″ cakes, but the layers may be a bit thinner. Same temperature and I’m unsure of the exact bake time – I’d imagine pretty close to this recipe, but I would just keep a close eye on them!

  9. This cake turned out beautifully! I’ve tested multiple white cake recipes, seeing as my son hates chocolate (so odd, I know!), and they’re typically bland, dry, and flaky. The cake and frosting were delicious! Question – I’m considering using this recipe for my son’s Avengers birthday cake. I’m planning to use 3 6″ cake pans (2″ deep). Do you think this recipe will make enough batter, or should I go with the 3-layer white cake recipe? Thanks!

  10. Hi if I use egg powder in stead of egg whites. How much is 1 egg white in weight
    Not a professional baker. Always been a bit nervous to use egg powder
    Thank you

    1. Hi Diane, Whole milk is strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A lower fat milk would work instead, though the cake may not be as light.

  11. Hi Sally! I want to attempt to decorate this cake with rosettes similar to your 6 inch cake. I don’t have 6 in pans or I would definitely downsize. How much more frosting do you think I would need? Double the recipe? Thank you so much. Love your recipes.

    1. Hi, Lorrie! This recipe will make plenty to cover the cake plus some (it makes a lot!), but if you need a bit more to make the rosettes, I would recommend 1.5x rather than 2x the recipe. Let me know how it turns out and thank you for making my recipes!

    1. Hi Crystal, 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. I don’t recommend buttermilk in the frosting. Stick with heavy cream or even half-and-half.

  12. Hi Sally,
    If I make the 9×13” cake do I need to cut cake in half or just ice and decorate the top and sides?
    Thanks
    Simona

  13. I’d like to use this cake along with a chocolate cake to make a checkerboard pattern. Do you have a chocolate cake recipe that has the same texture as this white cake? My typical chocolate cake recipe is kind of fudgy so I’m looking for a recipe with the same texture/crumb structure as the white cake. Thank you.

    1. Hi Theola, This cake batter will fit into one 9×13 pan. See recipe note #4 for baking instructions. For two 9×13 layers I suggest making this cake twice.

  14. Your recipes look amazing. I will make the confetti sprinkle cupcakes tomorrow for my son’s birthday and then a confetti cake for his party. I would like to do 3 layers for a surprise pinata confetti cake. Do you think it would it be best to add another 3rd to this recipe or to your vanilla cake recipe?
    And will it keep for 3 days in the fridge before icing and decorating?
    Thank you 🙂

  15. Hi Sally,

    I was going to make your 3 layer funfetti cake for my birthday, but I only have two cake pans, so I’m looking for a 2 layer recipe. Could I use this recipe and just toss sprinkles in the batter (not non pareils of course!) to make it funfetti?

    Thank you~!

  16. Hi Sally I’m making mini 4 inch naked cakes for my daughters baby shower I would like to use your white cake recipe I am going three high would you know about how long to bake them and also I am making 21 cakes of three layers high do you think two batches would be enough or do think I will need three thanks so much for your time

    1. Hi Teri! It’s hard for me to tell exactly how much batter you’ll need for 21 4-inch 3 layer cakes. I would at least make 2 batches of this batter. Always best to have more than you think you’ll need.

  17. Hello! I don’t have a cake flour. I am going to make the vanilla cake. I read your Substitute cake flour recipe. My question Is do I substitute just one cup and keep the rest of the flour the same?

  18. Hi Sally!
    I want to make this in a 9X13″ sheet pan and cut 3″ rounds from the cake to make mini-naked-cakes. Would this cake have the structure to do that?
    Thanks!
    Sophie

  19. Hi Sally,

    Would I be able to use 2 x 8″ pans instead of 9″? If so, does the temperature and baking time stay the same? Also, would it be posible to add sprinkles to the batter and if so, how much should I add? Thanks so much, I am looking forward in trying this recipe!

    Trish

    1. Hi Trish! I recommend sticking with 9-inch cake pans for this recipe. You could squeeze the batter into 8-inch if absolutely needed, but the bake time will be longer and the cakes may not bake evenly. You can fold 1/2 – 2/3 cup sprinkles into this batter.

  20. Hey, love your site! Going to bake this tomorrow. Your recipe calls for Flour – 2 and 1/2 cups (250g). Should that be 310g at 125g/cup?

  21. I want to make a Aluminum (10.5″ x 12″ x 2″) Unicorn cake for my grand daughter’s birthday. Will this recipe work for that?

  22. Wonderful white cake. I filled it with a homemade strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries. I topped and filled it with homemade whipped cream frosting.

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