This is my favorite white cake recipe! This cake is light, tender, moist, and topped with a delicious vanilla buttercream frosting.
After I posted my favorite chocolate cake recipe a few months ago, I had several requests for a white cake recipe too. Now, I’ve always been a chocolate cake lover but after getting so many requests I decided it was time to really work on a good white cake recipe.
I knew that this homemade white cake needed to be light, soft, fluffy, and incredibly moist. After some trial and error, I finally found the winning recipe! I even baked a white cake box mix to compare it to this recipe and my husband told me that my version was better and had more flavor. Now that’s what I call a win!
I’ve also included instructions for how to bake this cake in a 9×13-inch pan if you don’t want to make a layer cake and some extra photos to help you along the way!
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! Here’s what you’ll need to make this white cake from scratch:
- 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.
- Baking powder: Helps the cake batter rise in the oven and results in a fluffy cake.
- Salt: Enhances the vanilla flavor and also balances out the sweetness of the batter.
- Buttermilk: Creates a soft, tender crumb and also provides moisture.
- Clear vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract may be used as well. Clear vanilla will ensure that the homemade white 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 you keep that classic white cake look too.
How to Make White Cake
To make this easy white cake recipe, you’ll start out by whisking together your dry ingredients – some cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Once you’ve mixed the dry ingredients together, whisk together your buttermilk with some vanilla extract and set them both aside.
Then, you’ll cream together some unsalted butter and granulated sugar. You want to cream the butter and sugar together until they’re light in color and fluffy, which can take about 4 to 5 minutes. I know that seems like a while to cream together some butter and sugar, but this step is important.
Why? Because it will incorporate more air into the batter, which will create a lighter, fluffier cake.
Then, add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar in three additions alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Start with 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then mix in half of your buttermilk mixture, another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk mixture, then the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Alternating the dry ingredients with the buttermilk helps to prevent overmixing the cake batter which can result in a denser cake.
The last step is to beat your egg whites and fold them into the batter. You also want to beat the egg whites until they reach the stiff peak stage. In other words, when you lift the beaters out of the bowl the egg whites don’t fold over but instead, they stand straight up. It’s also best to let the egg whites sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes first, this will help them whip up much better.
Just make sure to gently fold them into the batter; I like to fold in half of the egg whites, then fold in the rest. Once they’re folded in, your batter should look like the picture above.
Then, you can either bake this cake in two 9-inch cake pans or make it a bit easier and bake it in a 9×13-inch pan. I’ve included instructions for both options in the recipe.
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. I have a few other frosting recipes in that post too, so feel free to use your favorite for this cake!
Can I Use a Cake Flour Substitute?
I did test this cake with a cake flour substitute (all-purpose flour + cornstarch) and found that the cake flour version was much lighter and the cake layers were taller too.
If you don’t have any cake flour, I’ve included a cake flour substitute in the recipe notes. But if you can get your hands on some cake flour I do recommend it. A few of my favorite cake flours that I’ve used are Pillsbury Softasilk and Swans Down.
Can I Use a Buttermilk Substitute?
Yes! If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can easily make a DIY buttermilk substitute instead.
How to Store White Cake
You may store this cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Can I Freeze This Cake?
Yes! This easy cake will freeze well for up to 3 months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature before serving.
Frosting will also freeze for up to 3 months (store in a separate container). Again, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and mix well before frosting the cake.
- 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.
More Homemade Cake Recipes From Scratch to Try!
White Cake Recipe
For the white cake:
- 2 3/4 cups (305 grams) cake flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk , room temperature
- 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (or pure vanilla extract)
- 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
- 5 large egg whites , room temperature
For the vanilla buttercream frosting:
- 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 4 1/2 cups (540 grams) powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract (or pure vanilla extract)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
To make the white cake:
- Preheat 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 an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for about 4-5 minutes or until 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 at 350°F for 28-32 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.
Adapted from My Recipes