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. This cake is amazing. So fluffy, and the frosting is the perfect amount of sweetness. I’ll be making this again. 

  2. This cake was amazing!! I made some as a trial run before my kids birthday and it was gone by the end of the day un-frosted! It was super moist. I did use 1/2 cup less of sugar and it was still delicious. I was a bit worried cos my batter wasnt thick but it turned out fine. I didnt even use cake flour but i plan too for the birthday cake. I’ll repost an update then…

    But thank you so much for this recipe…

    1. I’m so glad you loved it so much! Thank you for reporting back. 🙂

  3. Do you think this cake would work well as a strawberry shortcake? I wanted a light and fluffy cake.

    1. Definitely!

  4. This was incredible! I have been trying so many white cake recipes and they’ve all come out very dry… Magnolia Bakery has the BEST white cake in my opinion and I’ve finally found a recipe that tastes just like that does. Thank you <3 

    1. Wonderful! So happy you finally found one that works for you!!

  5. Hi! I am baking this for a birthday on Saturday and planning to cover it with fondant. It is gonna be delivered on Friday morning so I have to bake it on Thursday. Long story short do you think I should use some extra syrup on the layers to make sure they stay moist until Saturday when they’re going to cut it? Thanks in advance.

    1. You can if you want to, but I personally wouldn’t. I don’t find it necessary but again– if you want, you can try!

      1. Sounds good! I won’t use the syrup then. I’m already curious how it turns out

  6. Update–I made this with the almond extract and it was AMAZING!!! It was fairly sturdy and held up well to three layers. The almond flavor complimented it very well, and I paired it with a raspberry SMBC. Yum . 🙂 Thanks so much, Sally! I know where to come if I need a reliable and delicious recipe.

    1. Sounds so good! I need to try it this way 🙂

  7. I made this cake for my husbands birthday yesterday. It was the best cake I have ever made. I always have bad luck and end up with a dense cake, but not this one. This cake was soft and fluffy. Perfection. I don’t think I ever want to bake a cake without cake flour again.  Oh and went to Facebook to watch your Facebook live from yesterday. I don’t do Facebook but wanted to watch it. Loved it. Thanks!

    1. Happy birthday to your husband!! So happy you guys enjoyed this cake and thanks for coming over to Facebook to support my new LIVE video and watch!! 🙂

  8. This cake was absolutely delicious! I homeschool my kids, and made it to celebrate the *almost* end of the school year ;). After the first bite I told my husband that I think I can make it until June now. 😉

    1. Haha – nothing like a great cake to get you through 🙂

  9. If I wanted to make this into a three layer cake would I just divide the batter up into three pans or make 1.5 batches? And if I divide it into three pans would the bake time change?

    1. My suggestion is to simply make this 3 layer cake instead. You can leave out the sprinkles in the batter. Easier than playing around with this recipe and risking it!

  10. Manal Halabi says:

    Could I use this recipe to make a peaches and cream layer cake? 

    1. If you are not changing the actual cake recipe and just using a peach frosting between the layers – or even slices of peaches and vanilla frosting then yes, absolutely! 🙂

  11. Jessica Hicks says:

    If I were to make this into a 11x15in sheet cake, how should I adjust the recipe?

  12. Samantha Villa says:

    Hi Sally ! 
    I love your recipes, especially your cinnamon swirl banana bread. 
    However I’m in a stump. I recently got free range for a 3 layer 6″ cake with a kate spade theme. So I wanted to do your white layer cake tinted pink and the chocolate layer tinted black and swirl them together to create a semi marble, zebra pattern with Oreo buttercream filling. 

    Any thoughts on how I should go about it ? 

    Thanks so much again. 

    1. For the base of the cake, you could use this recipe since the baking pans are smaller. Sounds like such a fun cake!

  13. Christiana says:

    Hello Sally! You are amazing! Can i replace sour cream with buttercream??? Also what would you say to use this recipe for a wedding cake? Thanks in advance!

    1. I don’t recommend the extra liquid– sour cream or even plain yogurt is best. This cake would be a lovely small wedding cake, yes!

  14. I was hesitant to leave the cakes in the pans until completely cooled. But against my better judgement, I did. They both stuck terribly!! Maybe I didn’t grease and flour well enough? But the pieces tasted amazing! And I will definitely be using this recipe again. we will just eat a bowl of cake this time around. Thank you for all of your amazing recipes! I’ve made many, and this is my first fail.

    1. This has happened to me both times I’ve made it, but agree, the bowl of cake is still delicious:) it is such a tender cake! if I try again (which I will!) I plan to line the pan with parchment. Would removing before completely cool make it more or less likely to break do you think?

      1. Yes! I made again, and greased and floured liberally. Took out of pan after about 15 minutes, and cam out like a charm!

  15. Love your recipes.  Just took this cake out of the oven.  Can’t wait for it to cool.  Have you doubled this recipe for a sheet cake?  I am always searching for a white cupcake recipe…have you tried this one?  Thanks 

    1. Besides cupcakes (here) and the 9×13 pan option listed, I haven’t tried any other way!

  16. Hi. Can I use whole eggs instead of jus the egg whites? Sometimes don’t know what to do with the egg yolks.

    1. Use egg whites, not the whole eggs. Here are some recipes using only yolks: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/tag/egg-yolks/

    2. I recommend her lemon curd. it’s amaaaazing!

  17. Lisa Spencer says:

    I made this cake for my daughter’s 26th birthday today. It was EXCELLENT! Great job on this recipe. Everyone loved it.

  18. I make your very vanilla cupcakes probably once a week, have used it for a cake many times in the last six months (with excellent results, or so delicious and my local baristas/bartender/co-workers love it!). I’ve made this cake five times in the last two weeks though and each time it rises beautifully makes a beautiful dome, then proceeds to fall as soon as I pulled out of the oven. It usually has glutinous streaks in it (but still tastes delicious). I can promise you I’m following the directions to a T, and always let the ingredients come to room temperature. Any thoughts on what might be going wrong with my process?

    1. Hi Michael! And you’re making no ingredient subs, right? If the cake is falling, I suggest 3 things: check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer, try baking an extra minute or two (under-baking will cause collapsing), and check your leaveners for freshness. I find baking powder and soda lose their potency after only 3 months.

      1. Thank you for your reply! I was using ultra fine sugar (I got a significant amount for fifty percent off haha). I just ran out and switched to regular granulated. The granulated takes waaaaaaaay longer to cream, but the cake turns out perfect. Is it feasible that I was just not creaming the butter and sugar long enough because the ultra fine sugar creams so easily?

  19. My icing came out wayyyyy too sweet.. not sure what I did wrong. Do you have any suggestions for icing that isnt too sweet?

    The cake was delicious though 🙂

  20. Last year I baked your funfetti cake for my daughters 2 year birthday and it was amazing!!!
    this year I want to try this for her 3! But since it will be a bigger prty and more kids I was windering if I can double the recepie and bake a cake and some cupcakes??? instrad of doing 2 different recepies… 

    1. I don’t suggest doubling. Rather you can try this funfetti cake recipe (leave out the sprinkles) or make 2 batches of this white layer cake batter.

      1. Great! I will make 2 batches of this . same baking temperature/time for the cupcakes? 

      2. 19-22 minutes for cupcakes, same temp!

  21. I made this cake yesterday and I am bewildered by the end result. The cake baked perfectly but after cooling it fell flat but it was still light and crumbly. I frosted it the following day and it turned into a sweet heavy lump I used the buttercream recipe. The flavour of the cake is very good but much too sweet for my liking. This is the first time I had such a disaster. I am an experienced cook and baker. What could have gone wrong all my ingredients were fresh and I followed the recipe to the letter.

    I live in the Caribbean and I noticed when ever I use butter instead of margarine my results with cakes are not as good. Could temperature and climate make a difference

  22. I know you already have a funfetti cake recipe, but I want it to be more white than the one you have (which is delicious). Is this batter thick enough to add sprinkles in order to make a funfetti cake? 

  23. Hi Sally. I’m going to be making this in a 2 tiered cake and top tier is 2 “6 in cakes.. How long should I bake them for and how much batter should I use? By the way I loveeeeeee your recipes they’ve inspired me to bake as well as my sister did too

    1. I’m unsure of the amount of batter, but I would fill the pans halfway full. The bake time will be shorter than directed, but keep your eye on them and use the toothpick test to determine doneness. Enjoy!

  24. Hey Sally, love your recipes! My question is can I bake these in 2 8″ pans and then tort them to get 4 layers altogether?

    1. The 4 layers may be a little thin that way, ut you can yes. And the bake time will be longer since the 2 layers will be thicker.

  25. Sally, this cake is beyond words amazing!!! I made it for my best friend’s 30th birthday and it was great. His brother and sister-in-law don’t even like cake (they had ice cream instead of a wedding cake for their wedding) and even they loved it!! So moist and the frosting is delightful. Thank you for another amazing recipe!

  26. Amanda Bordenski says:

    Hi Sally!  I love your recipes!  The last two years my daughter’s birthday cake has been your funfetti cake but this year she wants a unicorn cake.   I found one that is 4 layers with each tinted a different color but of course I would much rather use one of your cakes and frosting.  Do you think this cake would work?

    1. Hi Amanda! I would use my recipe for piñata cake (4 layers) and skip the piñata assembly part. Just keep the cake whole and you can add sprinkles to the batter 🙂

      1. Thank you so much, that will actually be perfect because it is a pinata cake.  Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope that the decorations don’t come out looking like one of those pintrest fail pictures.

  27. I will definitely try this. Can this recipe work for cupcakes aswell?

    1. Sure can! Or you can halve the recipe for this batch of vanilla cupcakes instead. https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/08/29/simply-perfect-vanilla-cupcakes/

  28. Hi!! Absolutely love this cake!! Yum yum 🙂
    However; the second time I made it, the cake turned very yellow inside, brown on top and I thought it was overdone but it was underbaked in the center. Do you know what went wrong? – I thought I did the two batches completely alike 
    Thanks!

  29. Charles Wakelee says:

    If I had time I would make everyone of your recipies

  30. Could I add sprinkles to this particular cake without messing up the recipe?

    Thanks!

    1. Absolutely! At least 1/2 cup I’d say.

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