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!

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. 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. ♥

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!

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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) 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. 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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

983 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,
    Do you have any substitute for eggs for the above cake recipe and taste as good ,please?

    1. None that I have successfully tested.

    2. Hi Sally,
      Love your vanilla cake and strawberry muffins recipe previously! Can i know if i can use this recipe to make a tall double barrel 3×6 inches cake pls? Thanks for your advice!

  2. Hi there. Love your recipes! If I wanted to make this cake and put fruit inside, would I buttercream both sides then put the fruit in between? I wanted to use your cream cheese frosting instead too.

    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, Yes you can put fresh fruit between the layers! Simply add a thin layer of whichever frosting you choose and layer the fruit on top of it, and then stack your second cake layer on top. Enjoy!

  3. This was a fantastic recipe. One of the best cakes I’ve made, if not the best, and I’ve been baking for 40 years! I followed it as closely as possible. Usually, everyone likes the cakes I bake, except myself! This one is one I could happily eat without sharing

  4. Hi. I would like to make this cake for my daughter’s 8th bday this weekend. I was planning to make a double layer, 9×13. If I make the recipe twice(not doubling), would that give me enough batter ? Any tips? 🙂

    1. Hi Kim, this recipe as written is enough batter for a 9×13 inch cake (see recipe note). You can make two 9×13 inch cakes separately, yes.

  5. Help…. the mixture curdled when I added the milk. I made sure all of the ingredients were room temperature. Any advice please? Many Thanks

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hannah, it likely curdled because the milk was colder than the batter, even a few degrees can make a difference. The cake usually bakes up just fine though! Thanks for giving this recipe a try 🙂

  6. Sally, could I turn this into a funfetti? Wanting a light cake to top with whipped cream and fruit for a birthday but would like to add some jimmies.
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  7. Hi Sally! Will it be okay if I use this as the base of the funfetti cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  8. Hi, I love your recipes, and they are always my go to for baking desserts. Thanks for the details and notes in all your recipes! I want to make this into a rainbow cake and make each layer a different a color. Would you recommend any specific food dye? I just don’t want it to have that artificial taste. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynnsey, Gel food colors are the best! You get more vibrant colors without having to use very much of it vs the liquid colors. This kit is wonderful if you don’t have any: https://www.amazon.com/Coloring-AmeriColor-Student-Bottles-Colors/dp/B00KCUXRLC/

  9. Another stellar recipe from Sally! I made this cake this weekend for a birthday party where we were making our own strawberry shortcakes. (Also made your pound cake which was outstanding!) Mom is turning 80 and she loves white cake so I wanted to make her favorite. This recipe did not disappoint. Very fluffy and had such a wonderful flavor. I followed the recipe exactly and baked it in a 13″ x 9″ pan for about 35 minutes. It was perfect and we all enjoyed it. Thank you for always having such reliable recipes!

  10. Laura Fortier says:

    I made this in a 9X13 pan (it’s in the oven right now!) I was going to make the icing tonight but that recipe looks huge! Do I really need that much icing for a 9X13 cake? Also can I just throw some cocoa into the icing to make it chocolate cream cheese?Thanks.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, The frosting for this recipe in enough to frost between the layers of a round cake as well as the top and sides. For a 9×13 inch cake you can reduce the amount of frosting since you will only need it on top if you don’t want a thick layer. Or see this recipe for Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

  11. Hi,

    I made this cake and the flavour was great however half of the layer had avgood texture albeit a little dense whilst the other half had gummy streaks. I did the ap + cornflour substitute and I did open the oven too soon (requires much longer in my has oven) I’ve finally found some cake flour so I would like to attempt it again, but I wonder if it’s possible to use the reverse Creaming method with this recipe and if that would work at all

    Thanks

  12. Kathleen Zwally says:

    I LOVE your recipes! This my go-to baking site!

    Can half n half, or a combination of half n half with 1%, be used instead of whole milk?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kathleen, You can put 3 Tablespoons of half and half into your measuring cup and fill the rest up with 1% milk to make the equivalent of one cup whole milk.

    2. Sally, I have made this cake, your coconut cake, and the carrot cake. They are all delicious and always turn out perfect!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. You have made a baker out of me 🙂

  13. I am making a vanilla birthday cake. I want to decorate it with Swiss meringue buttercream. I want a great tasting vanilla cake I am between this recipe and your best vanilla cake. I am making a 9inch two layer cake but I am not set on the layers. What would would you pair with Swiss buttercream and how much buttercream would frost rosettes all over the cake and fill the layers!? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Stephanie! This white cake is fluffier than the vanilla cake. It’s my favorite recipe for a simple 2 layer 9 inch cake. The Swiss meringue buttercream recipe yields enough for the 2 layer cake and you’ll have enough for floral decoration, too. Feel free to make two batches, though– just in case you want a lot of extra frosting for plenty of floral decoration.

    2. What did you end up doing? I’m planning to make a similar cake!

      1. I used this cake recipe it was good my customer said it tasted great!

  14. Would I be able to make these and your perfect vanilla cupcakes two days before and have them still taste fresh? Hoping to make both of these (just the cake parts) today for my son’s birthday party on Sunday as we’re out of town all day tomorrow… If not then it’ll be a busy Sunday morning. I love your recipes so much so I can’t wait to try these.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sara, If wrapped tightly you should be able to store both the cake and cupcakes in the refrigerator for 2 days. Bring back to room temperature before serving. Honestly, for the freshest taste it’s best to make the day before and store at room temperature if you can’t make it the same day.

  15. Hi, Sally! I made this recipe once and it tasted amazing. The only problem is that it was really, really dense! Do you know how I could have messed it up?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Zara, Be sure you are using cake flour and sifting it before measuring. You can see more tips in the post How to Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake.

  16. I used this recipe to make my first ever from scratch cake. I just have one question. My cake is sticky on top and it looks like there is sugar carmelized around the edges. I wisked room temperature butter in my kitchen aid mixer and then added the sugar. I’m guessing that I didn’t cream the sugar long enough. Going to try again tomorrow to see if I can get it right! The inside of the cake was light, fluffy, and delicious!

  17. I made this recipe twice (read the comments first thankfully as I would have instinctually doubled the recipe!) to get 4 layers and it worked great for a rainbow layer cake. The cake was moist, fluffy, and delicious and the icing light and creamy, just perfect. Wish I could share a photo. Thanks Sally!

  18. This recipe is easy to follow and the cake is amazing. It is light and has the perfect flavor. My only complaint is the layers are on the thin side for two 9” pans and also a thin 9×13. It needs just a bit more batter.

    1. I had to come back and say this was my error! I was measuring the flour wrong and now that I have it right, this cake is PERFECT.

  19. Question. Can this recipe be used to make cake pops and yield good results?

    1. Absolutely! Though you’ll need to drastically reduce the amount of frosting. (The crumb will be too wet otherwise.) Or you can try my homemade cake pops recipe.

    2. I want to make a white chocolate cake and I was wondering which cake is better to make: your vanilla cake or the white cake?
      What adjustments should I make and how much melted white chocolate should I add? I only have two 8×2 round cake pans by the way. Thank you!

  20. Hi Sally, Is the vanilla frosting thinner than vanilla buttercream? but less sweet?
    If I want to make additional flower frosting can i use the vanilla frosting as well? will it hold shape? should i double the amount?
    Also is the taste of white cake similar to the vanilla cake recipe?
    Btw, im using 2 9 inch pan
    Thanks

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kath, This frosting is the same as our Vanilla Buttercream – this recipe just yields a higher quantity. If you are making intricate flowers you may wish to add a bit more sugar so that your frosting is thicker.
      This white cake is fluffier than the vanilla cake. It’s the best recipe for a simple 2 layer 9 inch cake.

  21. Ashley Burkett says:

    Absolutely the best! You’ve given amazing confidence as a baker. I always credit you and your website even in complimented. I’ve learned so much from you. Thank you!!!

  22. Hey, no pressure but, my sister asked me to make her wedding cake…is this recipe wedding cake worthy?

    I haven’t made it yet, she is moving closer to me here in the next week or so and I will make it then for her to try, but I wanted to get your opinion.

    Also, how well does this cake do with freezing and then thawing back out?

    Does it keep its same texture and lightness?

    Thank you! ❤️

    1. Hi Meghan! The cake freezes and thaws wonderfully. If you’re looking for a tiered cake, you may want to check out my homemade wedding cake recipe.

  23. I really want to try this recipe, it looks amazing! How would I adjust it for high altitude, though?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rian, I wish I could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  24. Just tried this yesterday and I’m a novice baker but tasted INSANEEEE!

  25. I used this recipe for a 6 layer unicorn cake, the layers I colored rainbow. The cake was light, fluffy and delicious very happy with this recipe, it will be my go to white cake from now on! I filled it with your buttercream frosting. Not too sweet, just amazing! Wish I could upload a photo to show everyone!

  26. Hi Sally, I was wondering if I can use this recipe for a canolli cake? Just bottom and top layers of cake and in the middle plenty of ricotta… (canolli filling)?
    Thank you form Italy

    1. Absolutely! Simply fill with a cannoli filling you love. I have to try making a cannoli cake sometime.

  27. Will I be able to taste the sour cream in this?

  28. Hi Sally,

    Can i make this cake without sour cream? May I know what I can substitute for it?

    Thanks,

    Meg

    1. Hi Meg! Plain yogurt is the best substitution for the sour cream.

  29. Help!!! I want to use this cake with caramel icing that was made in the crock pot. Would it be good to use salted butter instead of the unsalted butter with the caramel icing to give it a salted caramel kind of flavor?? Also should I make this recipe twice and make it 4 layers so that there’ll be a whole lot of caramel going on or should I use one recipe and make the layers thinner??

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Brandi, For four layers you can make this cake twice (for the best texture we don’t recommend doubling the recipe). Dividing this between four pans for four thin layers would work also if you don’t need as large of a cake (bake time would be shorter). I’m unsure which caramel frosting recipe you are looking at but for our caramel frosting it’s ok to use salted butter for a saltier taste!

  30. I made this once before and it turned out well. I was wondering if it would be possible to add shaved chocolate or mini chocolate chips to the batter. Is the batter too thin to hold them or do you think it would work?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jess, Absolutely! I recommend mini chocolate chips. 3/4 – 1 cup would be plenty. So happy you enjoyed this recipe!

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