This homemade White Cake is soft and velvety with perfect vanilla flavor.
Have you ever taken a bite of a beautiful white cake only to be disappointed by it’s rubbery texture and bland taste? With the proper ingredients and mixing technique you can make the best White Cake at home, from scratch.
If you’re into baking science and want to learn how I developed and tested this recipe you can visit this post where I explain in detail how I created the best White Cake recipe.
Ingredients for this White Cake Recipe
- Cake Flour – I prefer bleached cake flour because it is slightly acidic and whiter in color.
- Baking powder, baking soda, salt – for leavening and flavor
- Granulated sugar – Sugar flavors and tenderizes the cake and keeps the cake moist.
- Sour cream – Sour cream enriches and tenderizes the cake.
- Unsalted butter – Butter has a rich full flavor that enhances the cake.
- Vanilla extract – Use real vanilla extract for the best flavor. (Alternately, you can use almond extract)
- Egg whites – The main difference between a White Cake and a regular vanilla cake is the absence of yolks in the batter.
- Cream of tartar – Stabilizes the whipped whites.
How to make the best White Cake at home
- Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add half the sour cream and combine. Then add the softened butter.
- Mix until the butter is completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the remaining sour cream and vanilla and mix on high speed 2-3 minutes to aerate.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tarter.
- Add the sugar and whisk to full peak.
- Fold the egg whites into the batter in three batches.
- Fold just until there are no streaks of egg white.
- Divide the batter between two cake pans. Do not butter the sides of the pan or use a non-stick pan.
- Bake until the center of the cake springs back when pressed. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
What the difference between white cake and vanilla cake?
Most of the yellow color in a vanilla cake comes from the egg yolks. White cake is made with only egg whites and no yolks.
What kind of extract should I use for my White Cake?
I recommend a good natural vanilla extract for the best flavor. “Clear” vanilla extract is not actually made with vanilla beans and I saw no discernable difference in the color of the cake using natural vanilla.
Another option would be to use real Almond Extract for an almond flavored cake.
White Cake Recipe Tips
- Use Room temperature ingredients for the lightest batter. Room temperature butter is between 65°F and 70°F. It should be slightly pliable but not soft and melting.
- Using the “reverse creaming” method to mix the batter makes a soft and fluffy cake. Whipping the whites in the cake also makes the cake soft and fluffy.
- Do not use pasteurized egg whites as they may not whip up properly.
- Do not butter the sides of the cake pan or use a non-stick pan. The cake will rise higher as it clings to the sides of the cake pan. Butter and flour the bottom of the pan or use a round of parchment paper.
- The cake will often “settle” as it comes out of the oven because of the whipped whites in the cake. The soft texture of the cake is well worth the slight shrinking.
- Do not overbake the cake. Remove it from the oven as soon as the cake springs back when the center is pressed.
- The cake can be kept at room temperature for several days (unless it has a perishable filling).
- Un-iced, the cake can be wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap and frozen for several months.
What Frosting Should I Use for My White Cake?
I love to fill and ice Velvety Soft White Cake with snow-white Ermine Frosting. I also recommend Italian Meringue Buttercream, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Seven Minute Frosting or American Buttercream frosting for this cake.
Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with the extra yolks? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra yolks for some great ideas.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider leaving a 5-star review.
Homemade White Cake
- 9 ounces cake flour (2 cups, preferably bleached)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces granulated sugar ( 1 ½ cups, divided)
- 8 ounces sour cream (1 cup, room temperature, divided)
- 8 ounces unsalted butter (room temperature (see note))
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 egg whites (room temperature (see note))
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line two 8"x3" cake pans (don't use non-stick pans) with a circle of parchment paper or butter and flour the bottom of pans only. Do not butter and flour the sides of the pan.
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt with 1 cup of the granulated sugar. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to distribute the leavening. With the mixer on low speed, add half the sour cream and toss in the butter a tablespoon at a time.9 ounces cake flour, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon salt, 12 ounces granulated sugar, 8 ounces sour cream, 8 ounces unsalted butter
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer running on low speed, add the remaining sour cream and vanilla.1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Increase the speed to medium and beat about 2-3 minutes until the batter lightens in texture and becomes aerated. If your using a hand mixer this may take an extra minute or two. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no pockets of unmixed batter.
- In another bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium high until they form soft peaks. Turn the mixer to medium low and slowly add the other ½ cup sugar. Turn the mixer to medium-high and whip the whites to full peak.6 egg whites, ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Fold the whites into the base in 3 parts, folding just until there are no streaks of egg white. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and spread to level.
- Bake 25-30 minutes until the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed or a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool at least 20 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack. **The cake will "settle" a bit as it cools. That's fine.**
- Trim the brown edges off the cake, split each cake into two layers. Fill and ice with your favorite frosting.
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Wednesday 8th of March 2023
Hi Eileen, We don't have cake flour in New Zealand. We have a standard grade flour (APF) or high grade flour (has higher gluten content and usually used for bread). Which kind of flour would you say is best to use as substitute for Cake flour? Thank you in Advance!
Thursday 9th of March 2023
@Eileen Gray, yes, standard flour is about 10-12%. And that’s the lowest protein flour we have here. Apparently, cake/bleached flour is banned in NZ so I’ll have to follow your recommendation of 3/4c all-purpose flour and 2Tbsp cornstarch.
No wonder my cakes don’t turn out as light and fluffy as yours.
Wednesday 8th of March 2023
Cake flour is the softest, lowest protein flour. In the US it can also be bleached. Is standard grade flour like our all purpose flour (about 11% protein)? Cake flour in the US is about 5-8% protein. If you can't get a low protein flour the best substitute is for every cup of cake flour use 3/4 cup of all purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Make sure you also use the cream of tarter for the egg whites. COT is acidic and if you're not using bleached cake flour the acidity in the COT helps tenderize the cake and stabilized the egg whites.
Saturday 4th of March 2023
I am very excited to make this! But the flour says 9 ounces (2 cups). 2 cups would be 16 ounces. Should I be doing 9 ounces or 2 cups? Thank you!
Sunday 5th of March 2023
A cup of cake flour weighs 4.5 oz. If you have a scale it's always better to weigh your ingredients for accuracy.
Friday 27th of January 2023
I made this cake for my daughter's gender reveal party,and I can honestly say that this is the best cake I have ever eaten ,anywhere. Period. I only made one small adjustment, I used both vanilla extract ,and almond extract too. It definitely had a " wedding cake" taste. It was so light and delicious I could have eaten the whole thing myself. I'm so glad I tried this recipe
Monday 16th of January 2023
I just made this cake and it is absolutely delicious. The only thing I’m wondering about- I must have done something not quite right because it came out quite heavy rather than light . Any thoughts?
Monday 16th of January 2023
@Eileen Gray, Heavy as in very dense- very moist and there are no cake crumbs. so maybe that is how it’s supposed to be? it’s not that it wasn’t good just moist heavy -
Monday 16th of January 2023
In what way was it heavy? Was it gummy? This is not a light and airy sponge cake. It is a rich cake with sour cream and butter. It should be a melt in your mouth texture.
Saturday 24th of September 2022
very disappointed the cake did not rise and I know the baking powder was ok as I had made something that was perfect two days ago