Desserts | February 13, 2018

White Cake Recipe

Everyone needs a go-to, no fail White Cake Recipe! This amazing white cake will be your new favorite for birthdays, holidays, weddings or a simple Sunday evening dessert.

White Cake Recipe

If you fail, try try again…

How many times have you tried to make a homemade  cake and failed?? I have to say, cakes are my achilles heel in baking. I want my cakes to turn out light and fluffy with perfect  tops (not puffy or sunken), just the right amount of golden color and cooked in the middle without being dry. It sounds easy, but time and time again, over the years I’ve failed in the cake making department! Baking with a  doctored up cake mix is easy for me, I have a few recipes that I use which include cake mixes that are hugely popular such as Best German Chocolate Bundt Cake or Lemon Almond Poppyseed Cake or even my Foolproof Chocolate Bundt Cake.  But we all know a cake made from scratch is best.  Baking a basic white cake should be a simple task. The words “should be” are key here. I’m happy to report, after too many experiments to count, I’ve come up with a white cake recipe that is moist and light, but not too airy and holds up to a sturdy buttercream frosting. It won’t crumble when you frost it and won’t dry out between the time it cools and is ready to decorate. Hallelujah. My life work is now complete. At least in the kitchen! Keep reading if you want to know the process in discovering the secret to the perfect white cake, or just scroll to the bottom for the White Cake Recipe…

White Cake Recipe

High altitude presents huge problems

I live at about 5,000 feet above sea level which creates about 5,000 problem when baking cakes. Seriously. Probably not 5k but close to it! I’ve read countless articles online and in books about baking cakes from scratch at high altitudes. I’ve tried dozens of recipes over the years experimenting with every combination you can think of, to get the right texture in a simple white cake. Too many eggs can cause too much sponge in a cake, an almost chewy texture, which you definitely don’t want in a cake! Over beating after adding the eggs causes problems with texture too.  In addition, too much leavening can cause a rise then a crash which results in a fallen cake or sunken middle. Sugar has to be reduced a bit and flour increased along with adjustments in liquid. Baking time and temperature also contribute to success or failure in cakes baked at high altitudes!

White Cake Recipe

Trial and error and finally…

Over the course of my White Cake Recipe trials, I tried all of the following when making this cake: Adding sour cream and buttermilk, baking soda and baking powder, a combination of both, and powder alone. Butter- 2 cups, 1 1/2 cups, 1 1/4 cups.  Variations in milk, cake flour, all purpose flour, more sugar, less sugar, vanilla, no vanilla, almond extract only, egg whites only, whole eggs, different brands of cake flour, and adjusting baking times. You name it, I tried it. Nothing seemed to work, until I tried whipping the egg whites alone and folding them into the batter. Perfection. I went back to what my instincts said would work best, increasing butter by 1/2 cup  from the famous Cook’s Illustrated recipe, (which is the base for most white cake recipes you will find online) and reducing the sugar by 2 tablespoons, also increasing the flour by 1/4 cup. All standard adjustments for high altitude baking, with the addition of my beaten egg whites secret ingredient!
I love visuals, so to fully appreciate the difference in my “secret ingredient” or  better stated, my method for producing the best white cake recipe;  the cake on the left was made with egg whites not whipped, just beaten into batter (and most likely over beaten with all of the cake ingredients) . Cake on the right was made with egg whites, whipped and folded into batter. Same pans, same temperature same basic recipe. What a difference the egg whites whipped and folded make!

White Cake Recipe

White Cake Recipe

All the difference

After many tries and cakes that turned out too flat, too sugary, too dense, too everything… a thought came to mind. What about beating egg whites until stiff and then adding to the batter?  I know how that one ingredient totally changes the texture in Buttermilk Aebleskivers I hoped it would be the difference in my White Cake Recipe. After too many tries to count, finally, perfection!  I haven’t baked this cake at any other altitude, but would love to hear if you live at sea level and give it a try. I’m guessing it will still turn out perfect and maybe have a bit more lift than my cakes!  I use 9 inch cake pans with 2 inch sides and the cake comes out almost level with the top of the pan. I highly recommend using professional style baking pans and parchment liners when making cakes. Your cakes will turn out more uniform and easier to frost with a  level finish than if using cake pans from the grocery store.Pans from the grocery store will nest inside of each other, but will not produce straight up and down sides, which you want if you’re baking a cake and want to stack one layer on top of the other.

White Cake Recipe

I also like to use this handy tool for creating a fun finish on the sides of the cake without any needed artistic ability. The tool came in a kit when I ordered a cake stand a while back. I’m sure it is also available at craft stores and for those living in SLC, at Orson Gygi.  One last thing! All of the beautiful paper goods in this post are from My Mind’s Eye. Their products are found in many stores including Zurcher’s in SLC.

White Cake Recipe

5 from 13 votes
Print

White Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites room temperature, beaten until stiff*
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened*
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour Bob's Red Mill
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder or 4 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup whole milk room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons clear imitation vanilla,  or almond flavoring, or a combination of both
  • flour for dusting pans
  • cooking spray for pans
  • 2- 9 inch x 2 inch high round baking pans
  • parchment liner for pans

For buttercream frosting:

  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups butter or 20 tablespoons room temperature
  • 4-5 tablespoons milk half and half or cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla regular is okay or clear
  • 2 drops red food coloring optional

Instructions

  1. Spray two 9 inch baking pans generously with cooking oil (or grease with paper towel coated with oil). Place liner in pan and spray again with oil. Place a bit of flour (about 1 teaspoon) in each pan, tap and tilt the pan so the flour coats the bottom and then quickly turn over and tap to release any excess flour. Set aside.
  2. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and beat with whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. The egg whites should not be dry, but hold their shape when the beater is removed. This takes about one minute if the eggs are at room temperature. Set aside or place in another bowl if using the same bowl to make the cake batter.
  3. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter and turn the mixer on to high. Turn mixer off and scrape down sides of bowl. Turn mixer back on and add the sugar while the mixer is on medium speed. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl again. Mix for another minute.
  4. Add cake flour, baking powder and salt. Mix on medium until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn off mixer and scrape down sides again. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the milk and vanilla or almond flavorings to the mixture. Mix on medium just until the mixture is smooth and no lumps appear (about 20-30 seconds).
  5. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides one more time, insuring all ingredients are mixed in. If needed, turn the mixer on for one more spin until all is mixed well. Do not over mix.
  6. Fold the egg whites into the flour (by hand using a spatula or wood spoon) and sugar mixture. Be careful to not over mix. Fold until the streaks of egg whites no longer appear and the egg whites are evenly distributed in the batter.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans. Weigh on a food scale to insure the batter is evenly proportioned.
  8. Bake on center rack of oven at 350 degrees for 20-27 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached and will spring back when touched lightly in center.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. When ready to invert, run a butter knife around edge of pan and turn over onto a cooling rack. Frost when cooled completely.

For Frosting:

  1. Place powdered sugar into bowl of stand mixer. Turn on low speed for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add room temperature butter. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add milk (3 tablespoons) or cream, pinch of salt and vanilla. Add more milk if needed, a tablespoon at a time.
  4. Beat for about 3-5 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Make sure to follow this time for the fluffiest, smoothest buttercream!
  5. When finished beating, use a spatula to fold together and remove any excess air bubbles from frosting.
  6. Frost cake using about 1 cup of frosting for middle section, then frost sides and top.

Recipe Notes

-I beat the egg white in a clean bowl, with a whisk attachment. The eggs will beat up better if they are at room temperature. Make sure the bowl and beaters are free of any oil. 

-Butter may be left on the counter for 1 hour before using or microwaved for a few seconds until barely soft. 

-I like Bob's Red Mill brand Cake flour. I've used several different types but have had best success with Bob's for this recipe!

-The cake may be frozen for up to two months if wrapped tightly before frosting. 

 

58 thoughts on “White Cake Recipe

Leave a Reply

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

  1. I LOVE this post! I too have been on a journey to make a perfect white cake, especially moving from sea-level to 5,000 ft. I cannot wait to try this, because it looks like you have nailed it! You have done all the hard work now I can easily enjoy the fruit of it. Thank you Si!

    1. Ann,
      I’m so pleased with the results of this white cake recipe. Please send me a picture of your cake and let me know how this recipe works for you!
      Thanks for reading ABK!
      xo,
      Si

  2. Si, I want to report that I made this cake and it turned out just perfect! When I saw the amount of baking powder the recipe called for I was a little worried as I always reduce each teaspoon by one fourth to one half since I live over 5,000 ft, but it did not fall and it tastes as amazing as it looks. Thank you for this recipe!
    Ann (I took some pictures but I am not sure how to send them to you)

  3. 5 stars
    My family & I have been searching for the best white cake for 10+ years! We have made countless recipes and have always found something missing. I’m certain we have finally found a winner!! My mom made me this cake for my birthday and it was everything we have been searching for–great flavor, perfect texture, moist, and the buttercream is to die for! We did not have imitation vanilla on hand but used a mixture of almond and vanilla extract (brown). I think next time we might add a touch of almond extract to the buttercream because IMO, it adds the best flavor! Although we didn’t do it this time, I’m a huge fan of freezing cakes for at least a day or two before serving. I’m excited to make it again and try that out. Thanks, ABK, for another wonderful recipe!

    1. Jillian,
      Thank you so much for your kind comments. I’m glad you love this cake as much as I do.
      Almond in the buttercream sounds wonderful.
      Thank you for reading ABK.
      xo,
      Si

  4. 5 stars
    This is beautiful and I can’t wait to try! This is the worlds silliest question, I know, but I don’t know the answer: if annicing recipe has milk or cream in it, does the (leftover) cake need to be refrigerated?

    1. Krista,

      No the cake does not need to be refrigerated! Not a silly question at all. I usually do not refrigerate a cake frosting unless there is sour cream or cream cheese in the frosting!

  5. 5 stars
    I love this cake! I have tried several different “tried and true” white cake recipes over the years and haven’t been successful in what I was looking for from a scratch recipe. I could not have been happier with the results. My family loved it. We lived in Denver, now Salt Lake, so an altitude recipe is much appreciated. It’s definitely going to be my go to recipe now. Thank you so much for all your trial and error!
    I made the recipe as it is written.
    We added homemade strawberry jam to the frosting for fun. So yummy!

    1. So good to hear this recipe was a hit in your home Kerra! Love the addition of strawberry jam to the frosting too! Thanks for your comment and for reading ABK!
      xo
      Si

  6. 5 stars
    This cake is AMAZING! I made it for my family Valentine’s weekend and we absolutely loved it!
    Thank you for doing all the work experimenting to make the perfect white cake and writing easy to follow instructions so we can all experience this delicious cake as well!
    The frosting recipe made the perfect amount of frosting to stack the layers, too. I’ll definitely be using this frosting recipe for ALL my layer cakes I make in the future.
    Any time I’m in search of a recipe I head to your website first because I’ve never had one fail!
    Youre the best! Thanks again!

    1. Thank you Kali! I was so excited when I finally was able to post this recipe! I’m glad you loved it. Thanks for reading ABK and for your thoughtful comment!
      xo
      Si

  7. 5 stars
    I’m always really skeptical when someone claims to have a great white cake recipe, but I try them all anyway, hoping to find a good one. This one is perfect! We’re in NC basically at sea level and the recipe, as written, hit the nail on the head here, too. I did 1/2 vanilla 1/2 almond and will probably do it exactly that way next time, too. The texture and height on this cake were much better than any I’ve ever tried! Finally found my go to white cake recipe. It was good the afternoon I made it, but the next day it was absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing this one!!

    1. Jessica,
      Thanks so much for your review! I totally agree with you that this cake tastes even better the second day!
      Thanks for reading ABK,
      xo
      Si

  8. I’d like to try making this recipe into cupcakes. Have you tried this and is there anything you would change? ( I.e the baking time)

    1. I have not tried this while making cupcakes, but hope to soon. If you give it a try, please let use know! I would bake for 18? minutes per dozen. thanks Aubrey,
      Si

  9. I’m hoping to make this cake tomorrow but am worried about my cake pans. They must be from the grocery store because they nest. I don’t care about the straight up and down sides (I must be used to it, I’ve never noticed it!) so much as I’m worried about the cake overflowing in the oven. I’m serving it tomorrow night and don’t have time to correct a disaster! My pans are 1 and 5/8 inches. Can I make this or should I wait until I have deeper pans? Thanks, Jen

    1. Hi Jen,

      You may use your pans, I would just make sure to not overfill the pans more than about 3/4 full as a safety measure! 1 5/8 is very close to the two inches recommended. My pans with 2 inch sides were not even close to overflowing, so I’m almost certain you won’t have overflow, but Im concerned about you having a good experience the first time you make this recipe! You can leave a couple of tablespoons out of each pan to insure it won’t overflow. Let us know how is goes!

  10. 5 stars
    I made this cake for my birthday and it was delicious! My whole family LOVED it! We are white cake fans and this was the best white cake that I’ve ever made. I followed the recipe exactly and was so proud of how it turned out! Thank you for the wonderful recipe! My son has already requested it for his birthday coming up in May!

    1. Jessica,
      Thank you so much for your positive response! I worked hard to perfect this recipe and I really loved the results.
      Thank you for reading ABK.
      xo,
      Si

  11. 5 stars
    Vanilla cake is my favorite (and I’m super picky about it!) and I’ve made this recipe twice now – delicious!

    Just as an fyi: I used King Arthur Flour cake flour, as that’s what I had on hand. I’ll have to look for Bob’s Red Mill – I’d be curious what difference that makes (Si, have you already experimented and do you know)? Also, the second time I made the recipe, I was short an egg white. I used just a little less flour so it wouldn’t be too dry – turned out delicious!

    I am close to sea level, in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m guessing the slight reduction in flour is good since I’m not at a high altitude.

    Both times I halved the recipe (wasn’t feeding a crowd). Using only one 9″ round, I cut the cake horizontally and put a layer of icing between the thinner cake layers as well as on the top and sides. This cake is good at room temp or straight from the fridge.

    Will definitely make again! Thanks for the GREAT recipe!

    1. Sheridan,
      I’m so glad you love this cake as much as I do! I feel that Bob’s produces a slightly more tender cake and is usually a bit cheaper. Try it next time and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading ABK and thanks for your input.
      xo,
      Si

  12. 5 stars
    I made this cake as my Easter dessert! I followed the instructions exactly as Si wrote them out and my cake turned out perfect!! The texture was amazing! I used almond extract instead of clear vanilla. And I used regular vanilla in the frosting as well as heavy whipping cream. So so good!!

    1. McKenzie,
      Almond extract sounds like a fantastic idea. I’m glad this worked out so well for your Easter dinner!
      Thanks for reading ABK and thank you for your feedback.
      xo,
      Si

  13. 5 stars
    Made this cake for Easter yesterday and it was a HUGE hit! I love homemade desserts and from scratch cake, but have never mastered a white one. This turned out PERFECTLY!! And it was easy to handle and frost. I followed the recipe exactly, using 1 1/2 tsp clear vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond. It was the perfect flavor in my opinion. The buttercream was oh so dreamy! I used cream, not milk, for the frosting. Will definitely make this again… and again. Thanks Si!! I know your recipes will never let me down, especially while baking at high altitude.

    1. Thanks so much Aly, love that you made this for Easter and you all loved it. I appreciate your feedback on this recipe! Thanks for reading ABK!
      xo
      Si

  14. I made this delicious cake gluten free and it was delicious still! I substituted the white flour for Grandpa’s gluten free white flour. No xanthum gum is needed. Just add the same amount of flour the recipe calls for. Thank you Sy!

    1. Thanks so much Alisa! It is so helpful to hear successful GF alterations to ABK recipes. I appreciate your feedback!
      xo
      Si

  15. I want to make this tomorrow and also live in SLC. Is this already adjusted to high altitude or do I still need to make the adjustments noted in the earlier part of the blog? Thanks in advance!

    Victoria

    1. Hi Victoria,
      Sorry I missed your question earlier! The recipe is written and tested at my altitude so no adjustments if made in SLC. I am going to give this a try when I go to a sea level location in the future and will post any modifications I make then.
      Thanks so much!
      Si

  16. Do you always measure your flour with a spoon and then level it out? Or is this recipe safe to just scoop it out?
    Thanks

    1. Maren,
      I measure and then level out. Thanks for your question!
      Let me know how you like this White Cake recipe. I made it for a baby shower recently and it was a big hit.
      Thank you for reading ABK.
      xo,
      Si

  17. This is by far the absolute best cake from scratch I have ever made. I made cake flour using your how-to instructions. I also usedliquid egg whites and just beat them before folding into the rest of the batter. Turned out perfect!

    1. Nancy,
      I’m glad this recipe was such a success for you! Thank you for your positive comments -let me know if you try any other recipes. I appreciate your feedback! Thank you for reading ABK.
      xo,
      Si

  18. This cake sounds perfect as I am on the hunt for the best white cake! I have 3 8’ rounds , do you know how I could adjust this so I could make this ?

    1. Emily,
      You will love this white cake! Follow the directions and you can’t go wrong. Just divide the cake batter into three 8″rounds and keep an eye on the time. They should bake a little faster. Send a pic and let me know what your baking time was for three pans. Other readers may need that information! Thanks for reading ABK.
      xo,
      Si

  19. I made this for a birthday and it was soooo good! I have one question. After I beat the egg whiles, I put them in a separate bowl then carried on with the recipe in my Kitchen Aid. When I got to the point to add the egg whites to the recipe, which probably took 5 minutes or so, I tilted the bowl to slip the egg whites in and there was liquid at the bottom of the bowl. I didn’t realize this until it was into the flour/sugar mixture and there was not a ton of it, maybe a 1/4 cup or so??, so I just kind of soaked what I could up with a paper towel. The egg whites were fully stiff and fine when they went into that holding bowl. Do you know what this means? Is that normal behavior for egg whites? Just wondering if I should do something differently next time. Anyway, like I said, it was delicious. Also, I made one alteration on the frosting and substituted 1/2 cup of the butter for cream cheese. Since the butter still outnumbered the frosting, it was just a very light and fluffy cream cheese frosting. SOOO good. I think whipping it for the full 5 minutes made a big difference. This was my first time using Bob’s flour and I loved it. Thank you for such a great recipe!

    1. Joanna,
      I have had this happen occasionally. While I have read that using a room temperature bowl will prevent the whites from separating, I have found the opposite! When my bowl and beaters are cold, the whites usually whip up more stiff. I always make sure the bowl is completely grease free, to the point of reaching the bowl and drying thoroughly. Rinse with cold water to make sure bowl isn’t warm from washing. I also believe egg whites are room temperature work the best as far as whipping to stiff peaks. Make sure too, that your eggs are free from any yolks, as this will cause your whites to not rise to peaks. Good to read about your frosting adjustment, Im a personal fan of a light cream cheese frosting, instead of one with a lot of cream cheese. That sounds amazing!
      Thanks for your feedback, and thank you for reading ABK <3
      xo
      Si

  20. I am wanting to make this cake but can not find cake flour. I was wondering what I could use as a substitute. I have read that adding cornstarch to my all purpose flour would work like a cake flour. Please advise.

    1. Hi Emilie, the cake flour is sometimes hard to find in grocery stores, but it is usually tucked in right where all the other flours are. I’ve seen it in the natural/organic food section as well. You can also try the cornstarch method. Just put about 2 tbsp of cornstarch in 1 measuring cup, fill the rest up with flour and sift thoroughly. I hope this helps and thanks for reading ABK!

      xo,
      Si

  21. Wow! What a perfect cake recipe. I was tasked with making a wedding cake and went on the hunt for the perfect recipe and this one was the winner. I followed the recipe to a t, besides adding some raspberry preserves to the buttercream. Amazing flavor and texture, plenty sturdy for being stacked. I was so pleased with the recipe! Thank you!

    1. Hi Chelsea, thanks for your comment. This white cake recipe is my go-to and always turns out so well. What a great idea to put raspberry preserves into the buttercream! I’m so glad you loved this recipe. Thanks for reading ABK,
      xo
      Si

  22. 5 stars
    I made your amazing cake for my daughters twenty first birthday on September 4th. I haven’t made a white cake like this in years. I followed your recipe and we were so excited to see how each step went perfectly! I didn’t let the cake cool long enough so my frosting melted a little, everyone thought it was amazing having the cake a little warm with the frosting melting. We sliced fresh strawberries for the top and had blue bell vanilla ice cream! It was so delicious and we can’t wait to make it again! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing recipes with us! 💗

    1. thanks Kathy! Strawberries are the perfect combination (and vanilla ice cream) with this cake! Glad you had success and your family enjoyed it <3
      Thanks for reading ABK,
      xo
      Si

  23. I have this same question?Hello! I am wanting to make this in 8 inch pans, can I still get away with 2 pans or will I need to use 3? Thanks!

    1. Hi Ann, you can use 8 inch pans. Just make sure the amount in both pans is the same, even if you don’t use all of the batter. Hope this helps and thanks for asking!
      xo
      Si

    2. OOPS. Ann, I just re-read that reply I left and your question. If using 8 inch pans, you will need THREE. The original recipe calls for two 9 inch, so yes, 3 8 inch should be right, with equal amounts in each. I think 2-8 inch pans would most likely overflow! Thanks for reading ABK!
      Si

  24. 5 stars
    Delicious cake! Very easy if you follow her instructions exactly. I will definitely be putting this in my ‘go to’ file of recipes!

  25. My Mom had a recipe for the buttercream frosting from a German friend when we lived in Germany that uses just unsalted butter and vanilla pudding (not instant). The recipe calls to add the pudding 1 spoonful at a time to the butter and use a ‘quirl’ to combine the two, after spreading the frosting the cake is refrigerated to firm the frosting.

  26. I can’t wait to try this recipe. I checked 2 different grocery stores but all I could find was Bob’s Red Mill pastry flour, not cake flour. Would this work or should I just use the Softasilk brand? Love your recipes and research!

    1. Hi Nina,
      I haven’t used Bob’s Pastry Flour so Im not sure! I love the Bob’s Cake flour, but I agree it is difficult to find in grocery stores. I’ve used other brands, and the Softasilk brand is fine! If you have the option to purchase King Arthur Cake flour I have also had success with that brand. I think Softasilk is found in most stores, so yes, use it. Let us know how the cake turns out for you!
      xo
      Si