A perfect fluffy, moist homemade white cake that is frosted in the dreamiest vanilla buttercream frosting. Never use a boxed mix again, after you learn how to make the best white cake recipe ever. Made with sour cream, cake flour, and egg whites it yields the lightest, fluffiest, moistest white cake recipe ever!
Ok I’m kind of obsessed with cookbooks. Like I have them all over my house. Last time I counted I had over 100…easy. Does that stop me from getting more? I wish I could say it did. But nope. I have zero self control when it comes to cookbooks. Of course not all cookbooks are created equally. Don’t I wish.
Some cookbooks are meh. Some are pretty decent. And then you come across certain cookbooks that blows the rest out of the water. Enter Baker Bettie’s debut cookbook, Baker Bettie’s Baking Better cookbook. It’s not just another book of recipes, but she really teaches you the fundamentals of baking.
And my favorite part of this book are the master recipes. The master recipes, like Angel Food Cake, and this white cake recipe I bring to you today, that she then gives you ways to make it your own. With each master recipe, she basically gives you a chart on how to make the recipe your own by adding in extracts, spices, and other wonderful mix-ins. So the “recipes” are basically endless and the only limits are your imagination.
This white cake recipe from her book is absolute perfection. Unlike, my Vanilla Cake With Chocolate Frosting, this cake uses all egg whites so it makes a beautiful white cake. I already used this cake as a base for the best funfetti cake recipe ever, this Strawberry Layer Cake and for this Berry Chantilly Cake. As you can see you can do a lot with just one recipe! Sky’s the limit.
This homemade white cake recipes uses 3 key ingredients to yield a tender and moist cake: egg whites (that don’t need to be whipped first!), sour cream, and cake flour. Frost it some homemade Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and you have a perfect cake for all occasions.
Besides gathering the ingredients above, here are a few things to mention about some of the ingredients
- Cake Flour – I’ll explain more below, but cake flour is key to producing a light, tender cake. If you use all-purpose flour the cake won’t be as tender. You can make a homemade cake flour, but it won’t produce quite the same results as store-bought.
- Unsalted butter – I always recommend using unsalted butter vs. salted butter so you can control the amount of salt in your cake. Make sure your butter is also properly softened before you start so it can be properly creamed with the sugar, which will create a tall, fluffy cake structure.
- Egg whites – You want to use egg whites only in this cake which will create a light, fluffy cake. You do NOT need to whip the egg whites first but simply add them to the your properly creamed butter and sugar. For help on separate your eggs cleanly, read how to separate eggs (6 ways!).
- Vanilla extract – You can use either pure vanilla extract, or if you want a pure white cake, then use clear vanilla extract.
- Sour cream – I recommend using full-fat sour cream, not light or fat free. This adds richness and moisture, and the only adequate substitution I could recommend is using Greek yogurt.
How To Make This White Cake From Scratch
You want to start by sifting together cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Sifting is important because it will help to aerate the flour, making for a lighter, fluffier cake. But it also will make sure to distribute the baking powder evenly throughout.
Then go ahead and add the salt and whisk together. You will add the salt after you have sifted because it can get stuck in your sifter. Then set that aside.
Next you want to cream together your softened butter and granulated sugar. In a stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment, (or you can use your hand mixer) cream butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Don’t skimp on this time! You need do this for 5 minutes so it’s light and fluffy. This creaming time is important in making for a light and fluffy cake.
Make sure to scrape down the bowl halfway through mixing so there isn’t pockets of butter that hasn’t been creamed. The mixture should be pale yellow and increased in volume.
Then you want to add in your vanilla and almond extract, and eggs. You want to add in the extracts with your mixer on low speed. Then with the mixer running, slowly add in the egg whites mixing to combine.
You don’t need to whip the egg whites first, but just make sure they are at room temperature so they don’t seize up the creamed butter in the bowl causing your batter to break. Then scrape down the bowl as needed.
Lastly, you will alternate the dry ingredients and the sourcream/milk. First combine the milk and sour cream in a small bowl together.
You want to alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk/sourcream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. I add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing to combine.
Then 1/2 of the milk mixture, and mixing in between each addition. And then repeat two more times. ending with the flour.
Next you want to divide the batter equally into the prepared pans. I usually do this by eyeballing how much is in the pans or if I want to be super exact then I weigh out the cake batter into pans so they are completely equal.
Then you need to bake the cake for about 22-28 minutes until cake is firm and springs back when gently touched in the center and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You want to cool your cakes in the pan completely on a wire cooling rack before turning out of the pan. Once completely cooled, assemble and frost.
What’s the difference between cake and all-purpose flour?
This white cake’s light and fluffy texture is in part due to the flour choice. This homemade white cake recipe uses cake flour. as oppossed to using regular all-purpose flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than regular all-purpose flour. Cake flour has a protein content of 6-8%, whereas all-purpose flour has a protein content of 10-12%.
The higher the protein content in a flour means it has more potential for forming gluten. Gluten is the protein that forms when the flour becomes hydrated. Gluten provides our cake with structure. So by using cake flour, which has a lower protein content, it will produce less gluten and therefore result in a more tender cake.
Frost Your White Cake
To frost this cake I used my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Just like with the cake, you can use either pure vanilla extract, or clear vanilla extract if you want a super white frosting.
The key to this frosting is making sure to whip the frosting long enough so it’s light and airy. I made a BIG batch of the frosting to make sure there was enough to frost this layer cake.
If you’re new to frosting a cake, you can check out my How To Frost A Layer Cake tutorial that will show you how to crumb coat your cake for a perfect smooth finish.
Heather’s Baking Tips
- Use parchment circles. You want to line the bottom of your cake pans so the cakes come out after baking and they don’t stick.
- Do not skip sifting the dry ingredients. This will help lighten up the texture of the cake and ensure all of the leavening agents are mixed throughout evenly.
- Make sure your dairy ingredients are room temperature. You want to make sure the ingredients blend together and create a smooth texture. If your dairy ingredients are cold, it will cause a batter that breaks (aka doesn’t blend together and looks curdled) and doesn’t create a smooth textured cake in the end.
- Cream the butter and sugar together for 5 minutes. Do not skip on the creaming time. Proper creaming with softened butter will add air into the batter and create a tall, fluffy cake in the end.
- Test for doneness. Insert a toothpick or cake tester into the center of the cake when the timer goes off and look for moist crumbs, but there shouldn’t be wet batter clinging to it. I also lightly press the top of the cake and look for the cake to bounce back slightly.
Store the cake covered in foil or plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.
You can also freeze any leftovers for up to 3 months. Make sure to wrap well in plastic wrap. When ready to enjoy, unwrap and let thaw at room temperature before serving , or thaw overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before enjoying.
This recipe will make 24 cupcakes. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and fill about ⅔ full. Bake for 18-25 minutes. Or you can bake this into a sheet cake. Grease a 9×13 pan and bake for 35-45 minutes.
More Recipes To Try
Homemade White Cake Recipe
For the cakes:
- 3 cups (345 g) cake flour spooned and leveled
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 226 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract * use clear for pure white cake
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 5 large (160 g, 2/3 cup) egg whites * room temperature
- ¾ cup (180 g) sour cream
- ¾ cup (170 g) milk
For the frosting:
- 2 1/2 cups (5 sticks, 565 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 5 cups (565 g) confectioners sugar
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract use clear for pure white frosting
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Make the cakes:
- Prep oven and pans. Position rack in the center oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C). Prepare three 8-inch (20 cm) round pans (or two 9-inch round pans) with non-stick spray, then line with parchment circle, and spray again.
- Combine dry ingredients. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add salt and whisk together. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar. In a stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment, (or you can use your hand mixer) cream butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl halfway through mixing. The mixture should be pale yellow.
- Add extracts and eggs. With mixer on low speed, add in the vanilla and almond extract. With the mixer running, slowly add in the egg whites mixing to combine. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
- Alternate the dry ingredients and sourcream/milk. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and sour cream. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk/sourcream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed between additions until incorporated.
- Bake cakes. Divide batter equally into the prepared pans. Bake for 22-26 minutes until cake is firm and springs back when gently touched in the center and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pan completely on a wire cooling rack before turning out of the pan. Once completely cooled, assemble and frost.
Make the frosting
- Mix butter and sugar. In an mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine the butter and confectioners sugar. Mix on low speed at first, then increase the speed to medium until combined.
- Add heavy cream, vanilla and salt. Add in your heavy cream, vanilla and salt, and mix on medium to high speed for 7-8 minutes until light and creamy. If not using immediately, store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use, mix again until light and fluffy.
- Frost cake. Place one cake layer onto serving platter or cake stand. Use a spatula and frost the top of the layer (for even amount of frosting I use a large cookie scoop and scoop the frosting on, then spread out with a spatula). Top with another layer and repeat. If making a 3-layer cake. top with final layer and frost top and sides. Smooth with a spatula. If making a 2-layer cake, then frost top and sides. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
- Storage: Store the cake covered in foil or plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- Sheet cake: Grease a 9×13 pan and bake for 35-45 minutes.
- Cupcakes: This recipe will make 24 cupcakes. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and fill about ⅔ full. Bake for 18-25 minutes.
- Freezing: Add heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Add in your heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt, and mix on medium to high speed for 7-8 minutes until light and creamy. If not using immediately, store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use, mix again until light and fluffy.
- Frosting: I found this frosting was perfect for a two layer cake, but ff you are making a 3 layer cake, and want to add decorative piped swirls on top I would recommend making more frosting. I would recommend making an extra 1/2 to full batch of frosting. You can freeze any leftover buttercream for up to 3 months.
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