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!

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) 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! If I’m baking 2 layers of 6 inch cake, how do I adjust the amount of your ingredients? 🙂 thank you!

    1. Hi Kylie, I don’t have the best ratio of ingredients for a 2 layer 6 inch cake– just a 3 layer 6 inch cake and you can find that recipe written in my 6 inch cakes post. You can always follow that recipe, fill 2 6-inch cake pans, then use extra batter to make a couple cupcakes on the side.

      1. why 1/2 cup sour cream here and the same for the 6 inch cake?
        I mean.. this is practically double the recipe.. been asking this question a long time and can’t get an answer from you Sally. this

      2. Hi Shay, we don’t see any other questions from you regarding this, but my apologies if we’ve missed it. When testing this recipe, I found that using more than 1/2 cup of sour cream simply weighed down the crumb. Using milk instead thinned out the batter as necessary to maintain a fluffy texture. With the 6 inch cake, I found equal parts milk and sour cream were best.

  2. This is my go to cake recipe for a homemade cake. I like that it’s the right amount of sweet to go with any icing.

  3. This is the first time I have left a comment for a recipe but this cake is soooo good. I have been looking for a white cake recipe to taste as good as my wedding cake (26 years ago)and have had no luck until now. My family is also crazy for this cake… the BEST! I also used your tip to make AP flour into cake flour. That is key to a great texture and crumb. Thanks, Sally!

    1. Hello. Making this cake for the very first time. I followed the recipe to the exact T. The batter seems “micro curdled” is that normal?

    2. Hi Sally, I love this recipe. I want to use it to make a 9 inch 3 layer checkerboard cake for valentines day. I need about 10 cups of batter. I was thinking I would just double this recipe and use the left overs for cupcakes. Is it ok to double the recipe or should I mix two separate batches? Also, if I am making two separate batches is it ok if the cake batter sits at room temperature while I mix the second batch? Thanks so much…I have loved exploring your recipes. My baking game is 1000 times better since finding you!!!

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Maria, Two separate batches will be best – you can leave the batter sitting at room temperature while you make the second batch. Happy baking!

  4. Hi Sally, I want to double this recipe to make a 3 or 4 layer tall is cake the cake tins i will be using were 20cm (7.8) inches but i only have two so do you think i will be able to fit them in two pans and cut them in four layers or is this recipe doubled a lot of batter? . I would like this cake to be tall, but not to tall as i said like the height of your 6 inch cake recipe or 1 layer taller.Do you think its would still work or no?

  5. Hi Sally, I want to double this recipe to make a 3 or 4 layer tall is cake the cake tins i will be using were 20cm (7.8) inches but i only have two so do you think i will be able to fit them in two pans and cut them in four layers or is this recipe doubled a lot of batter? . I would like this cake to be tall, but not to tall as i said like the height of your 6 inch cake recipe or 1 layer taller.Do you think its would still work or no?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shaylei! Try this Vanilla Cake instead, it yields a larger 3 layer cake.

  6. hi Sally, could i use self raising flour instead with baking powder and the baking soda still?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shaylei, using self raising flour would change the results of the recipe. Use cake flour for best results!

  7. Ok thanks.I was also wondering if it would be ok to put some melted white chocolate ganache in the middle .

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Definitely!

  8. This is the 4th time I’ve made this cake. I’ve turned it into a fresh cherry cake with cherry buttercream frosting for my husband’s birthday. I made it with whipped chocolate ganache for my son’s birthday, and with vanilla buttercream for my youngest’s birthday. This last time I did a brown butter cream cheese frosting and covered it with fondant for a friend’s birthday. This recipe is the BEST birthday cake ever. I don’t think I’ll ever use another cake recipe for birthday cake. It is perfect, delicious, and no-fail. Thank you!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you for reporting back, Robin! We’re thrilled that this recipe has become a staple for your family.

  9. This is hands down the best white cake recipe I have ever used. I have tried many recipes in the past, and they are usually dry or not very flavorful, but this cake is moist and delicious.

  10. Can I add flaked sweetened coconut to this recipe? Would 1/2 cup be enough?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tom, You could add shredded coconut, 3/4 – 1 cup would be plenty. For the best coconut flavor we recommend this Fluffy & Moist Coconut Cake!

  11. Cakes and frosting are all ready to go! Can I assemble and frost today for a party tomorrow? Make ahead notes seem to suggest either wait and frost before serving or frost and freeze. Wondering if frost and refrigerate would have a negative effect. Thank you!

  12. Do I just add almond extract to the recipe as-is to make an almond cake? I didn’t see a separate recipe listed for almond cake. Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  13. Thanks so much for this amazing recipe. The first time I made it, I’d thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I’m thinking about making it again as part of a Fireball cake. The guides out there use a box mix and sub half the liquid for “cinnamon-flavored whiskey.” Do you think that would work with this recipe? Subbing half the milk? Thanks again!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelly, so happy you love this cake! We haven’t tested a Fireball Cake, but a homemade version sounds very fun. Would love to hear how it goes if you give it a try.

  14. Hi Sally! I am planning to make this for my mom’s birthday this weekend. Can I use 2% milk instead?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mae, 2% milk will work in a pinch, although the cake may not be as light. Happy baking!

  15. Hi!
    Have made this cake a couple times and have followed it to the t but have struggled to have it be done in the 24-25 minute time frame. I have the right size cake pans and it is still super jiggly. Any advice on what I’m doing wrong?
    Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hello! It could be that your oven runs a little cool – we always suggest using an in over thermometer for best results. For now, you can simply bake the cake longer until it is done. We like to use the toothpick test. Hope this helps!

  16. Rozan Esparza says:

    I made this last night. I am practicing a Smash Cake for my granddaughter’s 1st bday. I used two 6” pans and split the batter between the two pans. The cake came out very dense and heavy though I followed the recipe perfectly. So I’m guessing I used too much batter for the pans? I’ve never baked this size before. Should I use your vanilla cupcake recipe instead?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rozan, that is likely the culprit — this batter is too much for two 6-inch pans. We’d recommend using our Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes recipe instead. It yields enough for three 6-inch layers, but if you only want two, you can use the leftover batter for a few cupcakes. Hope this helps!

  17. Hi Sally, how many layers of cake can I get when I use an 8 inch cake pan?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tamara, you can divide this batter between 3 8 inch cake pans. We’re unsure of the best bake time. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  18. Christine Sea says:

    Hi, Sally! I have been enjoying lost of your recipes!! <3 I just want to know what kind of oven settings you use for this cake? Do I turn on both the top and bottom heat of electric oven? 🙂

  19. Hi sally ,
    Could I use this recipe and use 3 7inch pans instead of 2 nine?
    Thanks in advance ☺️

  20. I found this cake to be fluffy and fine-textured but dry and with a slightly baking powder/baking soda taste. It was barely sweet and I frosted it with the chocolate cream cheese frosting, which was very bitter. I may have overbaked by 1-2 minutes. I only had heavy cream, not whole milk, so I did 1/2 c water + 1/2 c heavy cream per recommendations on the Wilton site. Maybe these two issues just had that drastic an effect on the final product.

  21. I love your website. There are so many great recipes. I made this cake for my sister’s birthday. She loved it. It was the perfect texture and weight. The frosting was delicious. I will definitely make this again and again!

  22. I made this recipe to make about 15 rainbow cupcakes and let me tell you, this recipe is divine! The texture is soft but still dense, the colors baked beautifully and it rose into a nice round top! My sister-in-law ate one and said it was to die for! Thanks for the recipe!

  23. Hi Sally,

    I was wondering if this cake would make three seven inch cakes? I need a white cake recipe because I want to color my batter. If this can bake as three seven inch cakes what would be the bake time?

    Thanks

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lilah! You can use this guide to find out how much batter you’ll need. We’re unsure of the exact bake time so keep an eye on them in the oven.

  24. Hello
    Plz i want to ask you if i am using an electric oven and i want to bake this 2 layer vanilla cake, what is the direction of the heat and how long
    Thank you so much

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joelle! It should be the same baking time and temperature but keep an eye on it in the oven as all are a little different.

      1. Hello again, okey and Do I turn on both the top and bottom heat of the electric oven? Or the bottom only?
        On My electric oven it shows many heat direction: top and bottom, bottom, top and bottom with symbol fan, bottom with symbol fan, top with symbol fan, so what is the best to choose , thanks a lot

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        So many options! We would start with the bottom heat only. It may take some trial and error to find exactly what works best for you and your oven.

  25. I made this cake for my daughter’s 21st birthday and it was a big hit! Everyone said how delicious it was! They loved the moisture and texture of the cake. Thank you Sally

  26. Jill Marie Harris says:

    Sally: I need your help. Everytime I make this cake, the center falls. I am wondering if this due to a severe temperature drop when I remove it from the oven?

    I bake daily and usually do not have these issues. Your advise would be so kind.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Jill! That’s usually the case with cheesecakes, soufflés, and sometimes even sponge cakes but not with this type of cake. I wonder if it’s simply because the cakes need more time in the oven. See if adding an extra 2-3 minutes helps for next time.

      1. I reread the directions slowly and realized that out of habit, I was whisking into stuff peaks and then folding them in. I hate it when I get in my own way! LOL

  27. I am very excited to try this recipe! Sally, can I use egg whites from a carton? I’m wondering if that will the texture of the cake at all. Thanks!!

  28. I have a 10″ baking pan and I just wanted to make sure that I can use this to make a 1 layer cake (following the recipe) and bake for the estimated 40 minute time? Also should I adjust the heat for a single layer? The last time I found a two layer recipe and tried to just do one layer it was a disaster I really don’t want that to happen again >.<

  29. I am looking at using this recipe for my daughters birthday. I am planning on having two 9″ cakes layered for the bottom, topped with two layered 6″ cakes. Will this be able to handle the weight?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jen, 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.

  30. Hello Sally,
    This recipe looks perfect. I am baking a 3 layer gender reveal cake for my son and daughter-in-law and will use 3- 8 inch pans. Will your buttercream recipe be enough or should I make extra?
    Kind regards,
    Lorraine

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lorraine, how fun! We would make extra just to be sure – 1.5 should be enough or 2x will give you more than enough.

      1. Thank you very much Sally, I appreciate your quick response and suggestion.
        Look forward to baking!

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