The BEST White Cake Recipe
Tender, moist, and fluffy, this white cake recipe is made completely from scratch and is so much better than a box mix. Make this simple but elegant cake for birthdays, family gatherings, and holiday parties!
Whether you’re an experienced baker with dozens of cakes under your belt or are just starting your baking journey, white cake is a classic dessert that every home baker should know how to make.
Why? Because homemade white cake is perfect for any occasion. The layers of tender cake and vanilla buttercream frosting make this simple cake the ideal canvas for any cake decoration you can imagine!
Top your cake with multicolored sprinkles for birthdays, add gel food coloring to the frosting to suit any holiday, or enjoy the cake as is any day of the year.
After one bite, I think you’ll agree that this is the best white cake recipe!
This is a simple white cake recipe topped with my favorite vanilla buttercream. But don’t let the word “simple” fool you — there’s still plenty of flavor in this cake!
A detailed list of ingredients is provided in the recipe card below, but here are the key items you’ll need to make it:
- Cake flour: I suggest sticking with cake flour versus all-purpose flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour which creates a tender, fine crumb. If you don’t keep cake flour on hand, you can make a substitute with just two ingredients.
- Salt: Enhances the vanilla flavor and also balances out the sweetness of the batter.
- Buttermilk: Creates a soft, tender crumb and also provides moisture. Don’t skip the buttermilk! If you don’t have any, you’ll need to make a buttermilk substitute using regular milk and vinegar (or lemon juice).
- Clear vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract may be used as well. However, clear vanilla will ensure that the cake remains perfectly white.
- Unsalted butter: I recommend using unsalted butter since the amount of salt in salted butters can vary between different brands. The butter and sugar need to be creamed together for a good 4 to 5 minutes to create a super light, fluffy cake.
- Granulated sugar: I love brown sugar in cakes, but for this recipe you want to stick with granulated sugar to get that classic white cake look.
- Egg whites: Egg yolks have fat in them, which can weigh down the cake. By using just egg whites, you’ll create a lighter cake and it will help keep it perfectly white.
How to Make White Cake
If you’ve only eaten white cake from a box mix, you’re in for a treat! This scratch recipe is incredibly easy to prepare.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients: In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vanilla.
- Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy: In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter just until smooth. Then, add the sugar and beat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light in color and fluffy.
- Add the dry and wet ingredients: While the mixer is running on the lowest speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture to the butter and sugar. You’ll need to do this in three increments, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Beat egg whites to stiff peaks & fold them in: In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Make sure the bowl and the beaters are clean; if you use a dirty bowl the egg whites might not stiffen properly. Gently fold half of the egg whites into the cake batter, then fold in the remaining half.
- Bake the cake layers: Divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans that have been lined with parchment paper and sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake the cake layers until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely: Let the cake layers cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before removing. Then, they’ll need to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
- Make the frosting: Beat the butter until smooth. You can use a large mixing bowl and an electric handheld mixer to do this, or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar to the butter and mix until smooth. I prefer adding 1 cup of sugar at a time to make this process easier. Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and salt last.
- Decorate the cake: Level the tops of each cake layer. You can use a knife or a cake leveler to do this. Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand and frost. Place the second cake layer on top of the first, dollop with more frosting, and frost the entire cake. If desired, reserve some of the frosting to pipe onto the top of the cake. I also added sprinkles to mine for a pop of color!
Frequently Asked Questions
Vanilla cakes typically use the whole egg and have an off-white color. White cakes only use egg whites, which helps to keep the cake light and fluffy and also gives it the classic “white” color.
Absolutely! I opted to make a white layer cake, but you can certainly make this white cake recipe using a 9×13-inch baking dish and increasing the baking time to 35 to 45 minutes.
Yes! You may wrap individual slices with plastic wrap and freeze in a large freezer bag for up to 3 months.
The cake layers and frosting will also freeze well for up to 3 months. I recommend wrapping the cake layers tightly with plastic wrap and storing the frosting in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to assemble the cake, thaw the cake layers and frosting overnight in the fridge. Bring the frosting to room temperature and mix well before frosting the cake.
You can store this cake in an airtight container at room temperature for one to two days or in the fridge for up to four days.
If storing the cake in the fridge, I recommend setting it out a little bit ahead of time so that it can come to room temperature.
Additional Frosting Options
For this particular cake, I used my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe but increased the amount of frosting so I had enough to decorate the whole cake.
If desired, you may frost your homemade white cake with another frosting. Here are a few more options to try:
- Make sure to bring all of your ingredients (butter, buttermilk, and egg whites) to room temperature before getting started.
- Be sure to cream the butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy. This step may take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Alternate mixing the dry ingredients and the buttermilk + vanilla into the creamed butter and sugar. This will help to prevent overmixing and create a lighter cake.
- Gently fold the egg whites in until they’re just combined, you want to avoid overmixing them into the cake batter.
White Cake Recipe
For the white cake:
- 2 ¾ cups cake flour (spooned & leveled) (305 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature (240 ml)
- 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract or pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened (230 grams)
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar (350 grams)
- 5 large egg whites at room temperature
For the vanilla buttercream frosting:
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened (340 grams)
- 4 ½ cups powdered sugar (540 grams)
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (45 ml)
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract or pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- To make the white cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup and stir until well combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, then slowly mix in the granulated sugar. Once all of the sugar is added, increase to medium speed and continue mixing for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar in three additions alternating with the buttermilk mixture (begin and end with the dry ingredients) on low speed. Mix in each addition until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
- In a separate clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold half of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pans and spread around into one even layer. Gently tap the cake pans on the counter a couple times to release any air bubbles.
- Bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the vanilla buttercream frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on medium speed until fully combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- To assemble the cake: Level the tops of each cake with a knife or cake leveler. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand, top with a layer of frosting, and smooth it out into one even layer. Place the second layer on top, then use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.
More Classic Cake Recipes To Make!
Adapted from My Recipes