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. Sally I need your help!!! I am making a small cake for my sister in laws wedding to go with donuts and she wants raspberry amaretto! You don’t have one of them on your site Think I could adopt this recipe? Almond extract instead of vanilla? What about adding the amaretto? Would something come out in its place? Any idea? Any help is greatly appreciated!!!

    1. Hi Ann Mae! Almond extract would be lovely, yes. But I’m so sorry, I can’t say for sure without testing anything with the amaretto component. So I’m unsure about that addition. Maybe you can find an amaretto buttercream to use?

      1. You can buy amaretto extract to put in the batter (and frosting if you want!)

        I use the one by Beanilla, but it looks like there’s multiple options on Amazon 🙂

  2. I made this tonight but I browned the butter and added 3 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice (I also added an extra tablespoon of butter to make sure it stayed moist with the addition of the dry ingredients) and it’s SO GOOD!!!!! Thanks sally! 

    1. Your version sounds so so so good!! I need to try it.

  3. This recipe looks wonderful!  I can’t wait to make it!  Can you tell me where you purchased your beautiful sprinkles?  

    1. Sweetapolita 🙂 https://sweetapolitashop.com

  4. Hi! Do you think this would be enough cake to make one of those jumbo cupcake cakes? Thanks!

    1. I’m unsure of the measurements of those pans, sorry!

  5. Hi Sally when making you own DIY cake flour should I use the spoon and level method to make it? Thanks can’t wait to try this recipe! Diane

  6. Hi Sally! Quick question about this cake, do you have any recommendations on using this recipe for three 6 inch cake pans? Thanks for your help!

    1. Halving the recipe wouldn’t be enough. I would make the full recipe and use the extra batter for cupcakes 🙂

  7. Hi Sally, could I add chocolate chips to this batter without spoiling the cake? Thanks.

  8. My daughter’s 2nd birthday is in a couple weeks and I thought I’d make this yummy cake again- do you have a recipe for a raspberry filling? Growing up that’s what I had for every one of my birthdays…..white cake with raspberry filling, and I’d love to try and recreate that for her 🙂

    1. I don’t at this time, sorry!

  9. Hi Sally,
    How many Sheet Pan Size Cakes would I need for 25 people?

    Thanks

    Sarah 

    1. One 12×17 size is typically enough for that many.

      1. Thanks sally 
        So how would this recipe bake in that size pan?

  10. Would doubling this recipe work well to use for your piñata cake recipe?

    I wanted to make the vanilla buttercream frosting and dye it pink and this cake seems like it’d be delicious period.

    1. Hi Alicia! I recommend just following the recipe for piñata cake.

  11. Hi Sally!

    I would love to use this recipe to make a sheet cake for a party. I have a sheet pan that measures 18X13. Should I double this recipe?

    Thank you so much! I LOVE your site!

    1. Hi Julie! I would use this recipe instead: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/12/29/funfetti-sheet-cake/
      You can leave out the sprinkles.

  12. This seems like a silly question, but can I use my 9 inch spring form pans for cake? And if i can, would it affect the baking time? I only have one 8 inch cake pan and I would rather make it in one batch since I have double ovens. I’m making this cake for my daughter’s 2nd birthday! I just wonder if the cake batter will leak out of the springform pan…

    1. Not a silly question! Yes, you can use the 9-inch springform pans for the layers.

      1. Thank you so much for such a quick response! I’m also attempting your two tone roses on her cake, wish me luck! 🙂

  13. Ok so I made this cake for the first time today, and I just have to say, it is SO GOOD!  It is moist, and fluffy, and all around delicious!  I’ve been trying to find a good recipe for my niece’s first birthday, and this is hands down the winner.  Thanks Sally! 

  14. Sally,

    I’m baking my friend’s birthday cake that needs to serve 20(ish). I am planning on using 8″x 3″ pans and I think I need 4 or 5 layers. I’m debating between doubling this recipe, or making your Checkerboard Vanilla Cake recipe. Any thoughts on which recipe might be better? The fatdaddios website suggests 7 cups of batter to make 24 servings in the 8′ x 3′ pans (http://fatdaddios.com/cake-batter-capacity-rounds).

    1. Either recipe would work for 4 layers! I use 9 inch pans for both so if you use 8 inch your layers will just be a little taller.

      1. Oh my sweet goodness. I made THIS recipe. Who knew VANILLA cake could taste so good?! The 5 egg whites are totally worth it! No more difficult than any other recipe, but that flavor is out of this world.

        Thanks for all you do, Sally! I hope your pregnancy is going well!

      2. Thank you so much, Kayla! I’m happy to hear this one was a success! 🙂

  15. Hi Sally, 

    If I were to split this batter between three 6″ cake pans would it work okay? If so, how long would you recommend for bake time?  Thanks. 

  16. Can I use a bundt pan to bake this cake?

    1. Definitely!

  17. I have eggwhites in my freezer that I do not know what to do with them aside from frostings, they are about 2 wks old in my freezer in an airtight container….
    I was wondering how many grams would 5 eggwhites be…

  18. Am so excited to make this cake and also the cupcakes-thank you!
    Congratulations on the baby! She is adorable! Enjoy her!

  19. Hi Sally- this cake was fantastic! So light, fluffy, and tasted amazing. One question though- I had a TON of deep holes pop up! I’ve never had this issue before and I’m wondering what I did wrong? Thought maybe I overmixed it, but I followed the recipe. Any suggestions?

  20. Hi Sally, can Oreos be added to this cake to make cookies and cream? I’m making a cookies and cream layer cake or do you think I’d be better off using the cookies and cream cupcake recipe you have as a cake? 

    1. YUM!! I would add chopped Oreos right to this batter.

  21. Hi Sally,

    I want to adapt this recipe to make the bottom tier for a wedding cake, which is going to be in a 12 inch pan, I was going for 2 layers, but could be flexible, how much batter do you think I’ll need? Thanks!

  22. Hello Sally! As AWAYS your cakes give me sooo many ooos & OMG’s that when asked where did I make your recipies, I say…”You already know”! I got your “baking addiction “ book & went through th bread ones & bars in 2 weeks! The serving sizes are PERFECT! I also LOVVVEEE the Lemon blueberry  layer cake! I HAVE to make that at LEAST twice a month. I used cake flour & all purpos & it NEVER fails!! Thank you for ALWAYS appealing to our sweet side. See I got distracted from. THIS cake! My usband LOVES white cakes but hates how dry they can be. After making your cake he doesnn’t want me to make any other white cake but yours The closet he’s come to any WAS the Pepperidge Farm brand. Thanks to you, I can ace it for him! Keep up the great work MaMa!

  23. Hi Sally, what would you suggest if needing to make 3 layers of a 10inch cake? How many times do you think I should make this batter? 

    1. Hi Amber! I would make it at least twice.

  24. Hi Sally,
    I was prepping all my ingredients to get them to room temperature and realized I don’t have enough sour cream to make 1/2 cup. It’s probably about 2 spoonfuls shy of 1/2 cup. Will this make a difference in the way the cake will turn out? Should I add something else to equal that full 1/2 cup? Thank you! Can’t wait to see how this cake turns out! I’m making it for my mom’s birthday tomorrow!

  25. Hi Sally! I’m thinking about making this cake for my brother’s birthday and he loves caramel. Do you think I could use caramel sauce as a filling for this cake or would it soak into the cake layers and be too soggy? 

    1. Hi Molly! I suggest using a thicker caramel like this salted caramel. You can reduce down the salt to 1/2 teaspoon so it’s regular caramel, not salted. Once it cools completely, it’s a wonderful thickness for filling cakes and cupcakes.

      1. Thank you!

  26. Caroline Morrissey says:

    I want to make a 3 tier 9” cake. Can you tell me what adaptions i need to make please? Hi!

    1. Hi Caroline! My suggestion is to make this 3 layer cake instead. Easier than playing around with this recipe and risking it!

      1. Caroline Morrissey says:

        Thank you! I did bake the cake you suggested and it came out perfectly.

  27. Ashley Mjoen says:

    Silly question, do you think this recipe would work well for doing a jello poke cake?

    1. I can’t see why not!

  28. Sure can! Same amount.

  29. My, My, My (smh). I can’t tell you how many vanilla cupcakes and cakes I have tested for “The One”. They all were edible, because , hey we love dessert. However, some were dry, some too dense, some were bland, etc. I made this one this past weekend, and I can finally say, I have found the perfect vanilla recipe for me. I will not deviate from this recipe. So simple but so moist , so fluffy and full of flavor. This will definitely be my birthday cake recipe for ever. I used your cream cheese frosting recipe and it was great. Making it again this weekend with your vanilla butter cream frosting. Can’t wait. I want to use it as my cupcake recipe also. Do you think it will work?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy this cake too! I actually use a smaller batch variation of this exact recipe for cupcakes here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/08/29/simply-perfect-vanilla-cupcakes/
      But you can, of course, use this cake recipe for cupcakes.

  30. Hi Sally- I’m an over thinker. Looking for my “go to” white and vanilla cake recipes. I love the White Wedding Cake/Cupcake recipe from Recipe Girl, but it starts with a boxed mix white cake. I have made it many times and it is very good, but I am looking for my scratch white and vanilla cakes. Your Triple Chocolate Layer cake is my go to for chocolate. It is just the best. So, when someone asks me for white, are they looking for a cake made without egg yolks, without too much vanilla taste? (I use clear vanilla when going for a lighter color cake). When they ask for vanilla, are they looking for a cake made with brown vanilla, egg yolks included, and vanilla extract (no almond)? Again, over thinker here. What do you think?? 🙂

    1. Hi Paula! Are you asking me which cake recipe is my favorite vanilla cake? Because it’s this one! This is just my personal point of view, but I think white cakes and vanilla cakes are pretty similar 🙂

      1. Hi Sally! Thank you so much for your reply. When I need a recipe, I always turn to you first. :-). I guess I am just trying to put myself into someone’s shoes when they ask me for a “white” cake. Does “white” come with the expectation that it will taste like vanilla, or cherry (from almond). Would vanilla be acceptable as a “white” choice….I made this recipe yesterday. It is really good. I love the rise (I like tall cakes and I made it in 3 6″ rounds). Each layer was around 1 1/4+” tall. Loved the light color and flavor. I bet it would pair nicely with lemon curd and raspberry puree, which I make from scratch. Also would be great with vanilla/chocolate buttercreams. Another great recipe from you!!!! Final thought: if you asked me for a white cake and I made this recipe for you, would your hopes for a white cake be met? Thanks again for your reply Sally. 🙂

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