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
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon
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

945 Comments

  1. Hi Sally! I had a couple questions for you. I am baking this cake for my brothers wedding.. It is going to be a three tiered cake with big pan sizes( 11″,9″, and 7″). I was reading a few comments and I read that I shouldn’t double the recipe? I should just make the single recipe many times? I see your other vanilla cake recipe, however, I wanted to use this since I have made it twice now and it came out amazing! I am also decorating it tier by tier, so should I cover and refrigerate the cake if it has buttercream frosting, fondant and luster dust? It would only be over night 🙂 Thank you!

    1. What an honor to make your brother’s wedding cake! For most home mixers it’s too much batter to work with at once when you double it – you run the risk of over mixing which can lead to a dense cake. I don’t ever work with fondant but I believe you should keep it at room temperature rather than refrigerate it (the condensation can cause problems for it). Buttercream can be refrigerated or left at room temperature. The frosting will seal the cake and keep it fresh overnight.

      1. Wow thanks for the quick reply! Should I cover it overnight or will it be fine sitting out by itself? Thank you!

      2. I would put some type of cover over it just to protect it!

      3. Hi Sally i always find myself coming back to your recipes , this was my spot when i started baking ! Such some good recipes i love this white cake but im thinking is 1 and 1/2 buttermilk too much liquid for this cake? Can i leave out the sourcream and just use 1 cup of buttermilk? (Not a fan of yogurt or sourcream cakes but this one i want to keep as my family loves it! Please let me know thanks!

      4. Hi Angie, The sour cream or yogurt give this cake it’s incredible texture. I recommend sticking to there recipe if you want to maintain it!

  2. Erin & Sarah says:

    Hi Sally! This cake looks so delicious! We were wondering whether it could be made into a poke cake (using a 9×13-inch pan as directed in your notes)? We were thinking a caramel poke cake, using your caramel sauce to pour over the cake and then frost with a caramel frosting. Do you think this could work? Thanks!

    P.S. We would love it if you posted some poke cake recipes of your own! We would definitely make them! 😀

    1. I haven’t tried using this cake for a poke cake but it sounds like it would be delicious that way! Let me know if you try it!

  3. Hi Sally,

    This cake is phenomenal!! Can this cake be made two days in advanced and kept in the fridge?

    1. Hi Mary! Cake layers have the tendency to dry out when storing, so make sure you cover it very tightly. It would be best to assemble and frost it the day you are serving it. So glad you enjoy it!

      1. Thank you for the quick reply! I have to bake the layers tomorrow (Sunday) to be served on Tuesday so in this case, is it best to cover the layers tightly in Saran Wrap and store in the fridge and then assemble with buttercream on Monday night? Thank you again!!

      2. Yes, that’s exactly what I would do!

  4. What do the asterisks mean in the recipe?

    1. See the recipe notes. 🙂

  5. Hi Sally! I’m sorry if this has been answered before. If I want to make 6 inch rounds, how would I adjust the recipe? Can’t wait to make this!

    Kate

    1. Hi Kate! I recommend using my vanilla cupcake recipe, which is about 1/2 of this white cake recipe. I used the cupcake recipe to make a 6 inch cake here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/decorated-6-inch-cake/
      You can leave out the sprinkles.

  6. Hi Sally
    If I don’t have space in my oven for the 2 pans together..
    May I just wait for 1 to bake and then put the other one.
    Hopefully the answer is yes. I am already in the process

    1. The best white cake recipe I’ve ever used! Moist and tender and the layers are nice and lofty, perfect for splitting and filling (I love using strawberry or raspberry preserves between the layers and frosting with the same flavor frosting). My go-to!

  7. Amazzziiinnnggg !!!!

  8. This recipe is awesome and I want to bake it again for my daughter’s 5th birthday but I plan to bake in a doll skirt shaped pan. I’m wondering if it’ll work… do you think it’ll dry up if I need to bake it for longer?

    1. I have seen those pans before but I have never tested a recipe in one! Let me know if you try it!

  9. Hi Sally!

    I’m debating between this recipe and you vanilla cake recipe. I’m wanting a cake that is very light- like a box cake, would you recommend one over the other?

    1. Hi Ashley! This white cake is VERY light, I’d say lighter than my vanilla cake recipe.

  10. Hi Sally,
    I made this recipe in a cupcake form, & they tasted amazing but were very dry. Any suggestions on how to fix this?

    1. Be sure that you are measuring your flour correctly and you can also bake the cupcakes for a minute or two less next time!

  11. Can I substitute whole milk for heavy cream for icing?

    1. You can but your icing won’t be *quite* as creamy!

  12. Hi Sally, I want bake a 2 layer 9inches vanilla cake, and I’m not sure of the amount of eggs and buttermilk to use

    1. This recipe is for two 9-inch cake pans, so make it as written.

  13. I am making a monster truck cake and I want to use your recipe. For the “dirt” mounds on top, I was considering crumbled Oreos. Would that taste ok with this cake?

    1. Yes, definitely!

  14. Hi Sally, I baked my cake on Saturday with your recipe and it was wonderful. Thank you

  15. If I double the recipe can I use it to make a layered 18 x 13 cake?

    1. That should be a good fit. Instead of doubling, I recommend making this batter twice. Extra volume of batter risks over-mixing or under-mixing.

      1. Thank you so much! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  16. Margaret Lee says:

    If I want an almond flavor for the white cake, do I substitute almond flavoring for the vanilla or do I use half almond and half vanilla?
    Thank-you

    1. Hi Margaret! I would use half vanilla, half almond.

  17. I made this cake last night and iced it this morning. It was absolutely amazing!! Cannot wait to make it again! Thank you so much!

  18. Hi Sally, I would like to make this cake 48 hours in advance before frosting and serving . I saw you suggested brushing with syrup to preserve freshness. Would I then store in the fridge or in room temperature? Thanks

    1. If making 48 hours in advance, I would refrigerate the cake layers.

  19. The recipe says to use the whisk attachment to mix the butter and sugar. If I’m using a stand mixer, should I be using the flat paddle attachment or the whisk? I typically use the paddle attachment, but this recipe may specifically call for the whisk.

    Also, I’d like to make a 10″, 8″, and 6″ layer for our son’s wedding. I know not to double the recipe, but how would you recommend doing this based on how many cups of batter the recipe makes and how many should go in each of those pans (typically recommended to put 6 cups in the 10″, 3 cups in the 8″, and 2 cups in the 6″). Thank you so much for your help. We are excited to see how this turns out!

    1. Hi Heidi! I like to use the whisk for this particular batter because it really helps rid the lumps. You could use the paddle attachment if you don’t have the whisk attachment. I’m not 100% certain on how many cups of batter this recipe yields, but it’s under 8 cups. Fill your cake pans about 1/2 full and use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  20. Heidi Reckard says:

    Sally – Heidi again (I posted a question last night about the whisk and the pan sizes/quantities.). They are wanting a white cake with white chocolate and raspberry filling. Do you think your vanilla cake recipe would be better than the white cake recipe for this since it makes more? I’ve made both, and they are delicious, so I want to use one of them, but they do have different tastes. My white cake ended up a little spongy (maybe cuz I used the whisk to start???). Just wondering your thoughts before I take the plunge next week :). Your site is one of my favorites, and I use it often. Thank you!!!

    1. The vanilla cake is a TAD more sturdy so that might be the better option for the tiered cake. And you’ll have plenty of batter, too.

      1. Heidi Reckard says:

        Super, Sally, thank you so much! You are so helpful, and your recipes are equally as great!

  21. Hi sally! does it make a difference using a whisk attachment or a paddle attachment just wondering? Would apreciate the response!

    1. Hi Angelica! It doesn’t make a huge difference, but I find a whisk attachment works better for this particular cake. Really cuts down on those lumps of batter!

  22. This may sound like a dumb question, but I’m a very novice baker… If I only have skim milk, could I substitute heavy cream instead or maybe a mixture of both?? Thanks!!!!

    1. Hi Brittani! Try mixing mostly skim milk with a little heavy cream and using that.

    2. I am going to try this recipe and I was wondering if it is possible to add sprinkles inside the batter to make Funfetti cake or would it be best done in a different way.

      1. Sure can! Add 1/2 – 2/3 cup rainbow sprinkles.

  23. Good morning. I’m hoping to make this cake for my son’s 6th birthday party. I’m a novice at baking for a crowd. Would a 9×13 cake pan serve 20+ people? Half kids, half adults… Thx!

    1. Hi Emily! A 9×13 inch cake, sliced into smaller pieces, could feed 20 people– especially if half are kids! I also have this yellow sheet cake which feeds a crowd too!

  24. I just made this cake it didn’t rise like the one in your picture I followed the directions completely. I have no idea why everything was fresh including the flour. I’m just getting ready to make the icing. So I haven’t cut into the cake. It’s for my grandsons birthday today

    1. Hi Ellie! I’m just seeing this comment now. Did the cake have a rise when you cut into it?

  25. Lynne Binnie says:

    Hi Sally. Would this cake withstand being covered in ganache and fondant?
    Thanks, Lynne

    1. Ganache– yes. Fondant– probably, but use cake dowels if the cooled cakes seem unstable.

      1. I used this cake for a fondant covered cake and it held up really nicely!

  26. Hello… thinking about making this cake. But want it to taste like wedding cake… usually vanilla and almond give this flavor. What ratio do you suggest? And I need a wedding cake frosting too… any suggestions?

    1. Hi Rachel! I suggest my vanilla naked cake (and frosting) recipe. You can add a little almond extract to the batter.

  27. Hi Sally!
    I’m looking to use this frosting recipe to tone down the frosting from the 6″ birthday cake recipe here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/decorated-6-inch-cake/. This recipe still seems like a lot of frosting for a 6″ cake. Should I adjust the quantities?

    1. Hi Sarah! Use this amount of vanilla buttercream. Will be plenty for the 6 inch cake. 🙂

  28. Hannah Hobbs says:

    Hi Sally,

    I want to make this cake for this coming weekend, but don’t have time to bake and frost in one go. If I want to serve the cake on Saturday, how early cake I bake it?
    For example, can I bake the cake on Tuesday, freeze the layers, and then thaw and frost on Friday?

    1. Hi Hannah! Bake the cake as soon as you’d like and freeze the layers. Thaw and frost on Friday. Keep at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. 🙂

  29. What measurement of egg whites would you use if you just used an egg white container instead of individual eggs?

    1. Hi Jolene! Sometimes it varies by brand, so check the carton for the equivalents.

  30. Hi
    How long do you leave ingredients out for them to be room temperature?

    1. 1-2 hours is usually enough.

1 5 6 7 8 9 17

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×