This is my very best white cake recipe because it is incredibly moist and tender. There are a few secret ingredients and techniques that make this cake totally over the top! This will be your favorite homemade white cake recipe that you will return to time and time again! This cake can be baked as a 2- layer cake, a sheet cake, or into cupcakes! Pin it for Later »
Best White Cake Overview
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Techniques Used: Creaming Method for Cakes
- Components Used: Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, Simple Syrup (optional)
This recipe for the best white cake is surprisingly rich and extremely moist without being overly sweet. This cake offers the best of both worlds in that it can be handled and stacked into layer cakes easily while still maintaining a delicate texture.
White cake is a classic flavor for wedding cakes due to its color and elegant appearance. Traditionally, white wedding cake is flavored with vanilla and a hint of almond extract. If almond is not a preferred flavor, it can be substituted with additional vanilla extract.
What is the Difference Between White Cake and Yellow Cake?
The main difference between a white cake recipe and a yellow cake recipe is the use of egg yolks. A yellow cake utilizes the entire egg, including the yolk, while a white cake utilizes only egg whites.
The addition of egg yolks in yellow cake create a cake with a deeper yellow color and a bit richer in flavor. Additionally, yellow cake is traditionally flavored with only vanilla extract while white cake is commonly flavored with both vanilla and almond extracts.
What Makes a Cake Light and Fluffy?
I find that without exception, the fluffiest and lightest cakes are made with cake flour. Cake flour is very finely milled and has a very low protein content, keeping cakes extremely tender and fluffy. Real deal cake flour is truly the best option to keep cakes fluffy, however a diy version of cake flour can be substituted if absolutely necessary.
What makes this Cake Moist?
The majority of the moisture in this cake comes from the sour cream and the sugar. Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it holds onto moisture, and the sour cream adds richness while contributing to more moisture.
An additional and optional step to make this the cake super moist is to coat it in a simple syrup after baked and cooled. Coating cake in simple syrup before frosting it will trap in additional moisture and keep the cake from drying out.
How to Make the Best White Cake
This white cake recipe is made using the creaming method for cakes due to the butter in the recipe. This method will produce a light and tender cake that stays extremely moist.
Step 1: Prep Your Ingredients and Equipment
Because we are using the creaming method, it is extremely important that your ingredients are at room temperature before starting. Make sure your butter, eggs, milk, and sour cream have time to come to room temperature before starting the recipe. Also, preheat your oven and grease and lightly flour your cake pans. Measure out all of your ingredients for your recipe.
Step 2: Cream the Butter and Sugar
In your mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
Step 3: Add the Egg Whites and Extracts
Slowly add the room temperature egg whites to the creamed butter and sugar until completely incorporated. Add the extracts at this point as well. White cake is commonly flavored with both vanilla and almond extract and I find this combination makes truly the best tasting white cake. However, you can use only vanilla extract if you prefer.
Step 4: Alternate Adding the Dry Ingredients with the Wet Ingredients
When using the creaming method for cakes, you will add the wet and dry ingredients in small increments alternating between the two. This ensures that the batter will be able to completely absorb the wet ingredients. The dry ingredients are added in 4 increments and the wet ingredients are added in 3 increments, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
Step 5: Bake the Cake
Bake the cake on the center rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs but is not wet.
Step 6: Assemble the Cake
After the cake has completely cooled, you can assemble it. Brushing each layer with a simple syrup is an optional step, but is recommended to keep the cake extra moist.
You can use any frosting you like for this cake, but I like a simple American buttercream with a hint of almond extract added to enhance the flavor of the cake.
Tips, Tricks, & Techniques
- Plan ahead when making this cake to ensure that all cold ingredients come to room temperature. This will produce the best texture for your white cake.
- Real cake flour will produce the lightest and fluffiest texture for the cake and is highly recommended.
- Once the cake is cooled completely it can be wrapped well in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. Allow the cake to thaw completely at room temperature while still wrapped before frosting.
For the Cake
- 3 cups (340 gr) cake flour (*see note for substitution)
- 1 TBSP baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 2 TBSP (255 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (298 gr) granulated sugar
- 6 large egg whites
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract (or use more vanilla if you prefer)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk (skim, 1%, or 2% can be substituted)
- 1 cup (240 gr) sour cream
For the Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 ml) water
For the Frosting
- 3 sticks (340 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3-4 cups (340-455 gr) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract (or use more vanilla if you prefer)
- 2-3 tbsp milk (optional)
- PREP: Gather and measure out all of the ingredients for the recipe. Allow enough time for the cold ingredients to come to room temperature, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, sift together all of the dry ingredients and set aside. Prepare your pans. This cake can be baked in 2- 8x4" round cake pans, 2- 9x2" or 9x4" round cake pans, a 9x13" baking dish, or into 24 cupcakes. Lightly grease and flour your pans, tapping out any excess flour or prepare your cupcake pans with liners. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
- CREAM: In a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium/high speed until light and fluffy. About 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- ADD EGG WHITES & EXTRACTS: Slowly stream in the egg whites while the mixer runs on medium speed. Add the vanilla and almond extract if using. Scrape down the bowl.
- ALTERNATE DRY & WET: Combine the milk and the sour cream together into one bowl. With the mixer running on medium speed, alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients into the mixing bowl starting with 1/4th of the dry ingredients and then 1/3 rd of the wet ingredients. Continue alternating this way adding the dry ingredients in 4 parts and the wet ingredients in 3 parts. This will ensure the batter will absorb all of the moisture.
- BAKE: Divide the batter evenly between your prepared pans and bake on the middle rack in the oven. Bake until a toothpick comes out of the center with moist crumbs but is not wet. For 8" & 9" round cakes this should take about 25-30 minutes. For a 9x13" sheet cake this should take about 35-40 minutes. Cupcakes will bake around 18-20 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool for about 5 minutes in their pans before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely before assembling.
- MAKE THE SIMPLE SYRUP (optional): In a saucepan over medium heat combine the sugar and water and stir together. Bring the mixture up to a boil and allow to boil for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat to cool completely. This will be used to keep your cake extra moist.
- MAKE THE FROSTING: Place all of the butter for the frosting in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute until the butter is fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Slowly add the powdered sugar with the mixer running on medium/low speed, about 1/2 cup at a time. After you have added 3 cups, increase the speed to high and beat for about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the vanilla extract and almond extract if using. Beat to combine. Taste the frosting and decide if you want it to be more sweet or if it needs to be thinned out with some milk. Adjust as desired.
- ASSEMBLE: Once the cakes have cooled completely, use a pastry brush to brush simple syrup over each layer. You can be somewhat generous with this, but do not douse the cakes so that they are wet. Allow the syrup to set in for about 10 minutes and then proceed with frosting your cakes. Assembled cake can be stored at room temperature covered for up to 3 days.
TO MAKE COMPONENTS AHEAD: The cake layers can be made ahead and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap once completely cooled. Keep the layers at room temperature for 1 day or freeze if storing for longer. Allow to thaw at room temperature, still wrapped. The buttercream frosting can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and re-beat until fluffy. The simple syrup can be made up to 6 months ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I like to make bigger batches of this to keep on hand all the time for cakes, and to sweeten coffee and cocktails.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 350