This White Cake is a classic cake with a velvet texture and buttery vanilla flavor. The cake is moist and light, and frosted with a creamy vanilla frosting. Follow all my success tips in the post and recipe for perfect results every time. This cake is perfect for a birthday party or any other celebration!
This post was originally published in May of 2022, but I’ve just updated it in June of 2023 to give additional tips and tricks.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Classic Flavor – White cake doesn’t need to be without taste, and this one certainly isn’t! The buttery, vanilla flavor shines in this classic cake.
- Velvety Texture – The texture of this cake is so light and velvety
- Easy to Make – Follow the directions and success tips given in my best white cake recipe exactly for a perfectly tender and flavorful cake every time!
- Cold Ingredients – Be sure that your butter, eggs, milk, and sour cream all come out from the fridge ahead of time so they can come to room temperature.
- Butter – I prefer salted butter, but you can use unsalted butter if that’s your preference.
- Egg Whites – Use large eggs for best results. Using just egg whites and not the egg yolks lends the lightest texture to this cake.
- Milk – I used 2% milk.
- Sour Cream – Use full-fat sour cream at room temperature for best results.
- Cake Flour – Cake flour gives this cake a lighter, more tender crumb than all-purpose flour, so I highly recommend using cake flour here.
- Vanilla Extract – Since the flavor in this cake comes from simple quality ingredients, be sure to use real vanilla instead of imitation for the best flavor.
- Vegetable Oil – Using a combination of oil and butter gives this cake the best of both worlds – oil keeps the cake tender and moist, and butter adds flavor.
- Sour Cream – Full fat greek yogurt will work in place of the sour cream.
- Flavor Alternatives- In the recipe alternatives below, I explain how you can add fruit preserves for extra flavor, or make this a sprinkle cake, or an almond flavored wedding cake.
How to Make this Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Start Making the Cake Batter. Cream together your butter and vegetable oil with an electric mixer or standing mixer. Then, add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for two full minutes.
Step 2: Continue with the Cake Batter. Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing between each until just combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until just combined. That’s key with each addition here – over mixing the batter will lead to a dense cake. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go, to make sure everything is well incorporated.
Step 3: Add the Dry Ingredients. Slowly add in the whisked flour mixture while the mixer runs on low. Then, slowly repeat this with the milk.
Step 4: Bake the Cake Layers. Divide the cake batter between pans that have been greased, floured, and lined with parchment circles. This cake is so moist that it needs the parchment as added insurance against sticking (trust me!).
Bake your cakes just as directed in the recipe, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Step 5: Assemble the Cake. Frost your cake with a creamy vanilla frosting and chill to set the things up a bit before slicing and serving. Use 1 and 1/2 cups between each of the first two layers, and reserve the rest for the top and sides of the cake.
Expert Success Tips:
- Read through the Recipe – Baking a white cake from scratch doesn’t need to be difficult – just be sure to read through the recipe once before you begin to familiarize yourself with all the steps.
- Follow the Recipe – Don’t expect the best results if you substitute a lot of ingredients. Theoretically, the cake will still turn out if you use a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend, or if you swap to non-dairy alternatives. However, I haven’t tested the cake with those swaps so I can’t guarantee the same results. Do let me know if you try any swaps, I love hearing how it works with different recipes!
- Cold Ingredients – Be sure to let the cold ingredients all come to room temperature as indicated in the recipe. This is absolutely essential for the best texture and results.
- Is White Cake different from Vanilla Cake and Yellow Cake? Yes! White cake uses only egg whites, while a vanilla cake uses a mix of whole eggs and egg whites to give a slightly richer flavor. Alternatively, a yellow cake uses mainly whole eggs, or even whole eggs and some egg yolks to give a more yellow color to the batter.
- Can I double this recipe? Because of the volume of batter you’d end up with, I don’t recommend this as most home bakers don’t have the equipment to bake in such a large volume. I’d recommend making two batches of the cake if you want 6 layers. (That’s also a ton of cake – see yield tips below for ways to stretch the yield of one cake!)
- Can I halve this recipe? Yes, this should work just fine. You can bake in a 9×9 square pan (avoid glass pans, they don’t bake as evenly as metal or ceramic) or in two 8 inch round cake pans.
- How many servings does this cake yield? If you cut traditional triangular slices, you’ll easily get 12-16 slices. If you use the method of cutting the cake into horizontal strips, and then cutting each of those into 3-4 slices, you’ll end up with many anywhere from 22-28 slices this way, or even slightly more if you cut the slices on the smaller size.
- Can I make this into cupcakes? Yes, this will yield 36-40 cupcakes, and 18-20 if you cut the recipe in half. Be sure to fill the liners only 2/3 full, and bake for 12-18 minutes.
- Why do all your frosting recipes include cream cheese? I find that cream cheese helps cut through the sweetness of traditional buttercream frosting, so you don’t get that tooth-aching feeling that some frostings give.
Cake Decorating Tips:
- Making the Frosting – Be sure to cream the butter and cream cheese together for 3 full minutes like the recipe below says. This will give you the silkiest frosting. This is the real secret- no need to sift your powdered sugar!
- Frosting the Cake – More tips on this are included in the recipe instructions below.
- Adding Sprinkles – To add sprinkles around the bottom like I did here, just grab a handful, and gently press them around the base of the cake before the frosting is set.
- Jams and Fruit Preserves – Use your favorite jam, like raspberry, strawberry, or even blueberry to add extra flavor to this cake! Simply pipe a border around the frosting on each of the first two layers and spread 4-5 tablespoons of jam or fruit preserves within the border. Then, stack the next layer and chill for 10 minutes or so before continuing on so the cake doesn’t slide around on the jam.
- Sprinkles – You can add 3/4 to 1 cup of your favorite jimmy sprinkles to the batter to make a funfetti or sprinkle style cake.
- Almond Cake – Add 1-2 tsp of almond extract to the batter when you add the vanilla to make an almond flavored cake. This is perfect for weddings!
The cake layers can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Let them cool completely at room temperature, then place each layer on a large dinner plate and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Keep at room temp until ready to assemble. I recommend making the frosting day-of, not ahead of time. The entire assembled cake can be chilled up to 24 hours in advance of serving. This cake is best within the first 3 days or so.
Cake Storing Tips:
Once the cake is frosted just how you like it, pop it in the fridge, uncovered, to chill. After about 30 minutes to an hour or so, the frosting will feel set. At this point, you can easily cover it in plastic wrap without disturbing the frosting.
I hope you love this delicious White Cake as much as we do! Happy baking.
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Perfect White Birthday Cake
For the Cake:
- 3 and 2/3 cup cake flour spooned & leveled 406 grams
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp salted butter, softened at room temperature (10 tbsp, grams)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 and 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 7 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature I used 2% milk
For the Frosting
- 12 ounces full fat block-style cream cheese, softened at room temperature Note that cream cheese doesn't need as much time to soften as butter does
- 2 cups salted butter, softened at room temperature 4 sticks, 452 grams
- 6 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Prep: Make sure all cold ingredients have come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans. Use a paper towel to rub shortening all over the inside of each pan, coating them evenly and completely. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside each (tracing is the easiest way). Place this on top of the greased pan bottom, then grease over the parchment paper as well. Add a handful of flour, and tap the pan around to evenly coat the entire inside with flour, tapping out the excess.
- Make the Cake Batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter for about 30 seconds, until creamy. Add the vegetable oil and cream together with the butter for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 full minutes. The mixture will be fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl down throughout, to ensure everything is combined. Add the egg whites, two at a time and then the last one on it's own, beating on medium low speed between each addition, until just combined. Don't over mix! Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix in on medium low speed until just combined.Slowly pour in the dry ingredients while the mixer runs on low speed. Mix just until the last streaks of flour are disappearing into the batter, then turn off the mixer and use a spatula to make sure everything is folded in. Finally, slowly pour in the milk while the mixer runs on low speed. Mix until just combined – don't over mix!
- Bake: Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. (You can eyeball this or use a kitchen scale to help with precision.)Bake the cakes, the first two pans together, and then the 3rd pan on its own after the first two are done. This will ensure the most even bake. Bake the cakes for 22-26 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center will pull out moist crumbs and the cakes shouldn't jiggle in the center when you move the pan. Let cakes cool in the pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes. Then, invert onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting and assembling.
- Make the Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese on high for 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar in 3 additions, mixing until smooth between each. Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt and mix.
- Assemble & Frost the Cake: Place the first cake layer on a cake stand protected with wax paper strips, or a turntable. (A turntable is the easiest!) Use 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting to top the layer, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Repeat with the second layer. Add the final layer and give the cake a thin layer of frosting on top and on the sides. Use a cake scraper to smooth out and remove excess frosting. This is your crumb coat, so don't fret if it isn't perfect. Pop the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes or until the frosting is set. Then, use the remaining frosting to frost the cake, using the cake scraper to smooth the top and sides. Chill the entire cake in the fridge for 30 minutes, or until the frosting is set before covering it (with plastic wrap or a cake lid) or serving it. Tip: If your frosting is getting too soft at any point from sitting out, pop it back in the fridge for a bit to firm back up.
- Serve + Store: Serve the cake once it's chilled as directed above. Slice into as many slices as desired! Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the fridge for 2-3 days. The cake will naturally start to dry out a bit once it's been cut and put back in the fridge, so just be sure to seal and store it tightly.
- Make Ahead Tips: The cake layers can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Let cool completely then place each layer on a large dinner plate or a cookie sheet and plastic wrap tightly to seal. Store at room temp, then frost the next day. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before slicing and serving.
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