White Cake Recipe: The Complete Guide

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A white cake recipe that is light, moist and delicious

This white cake recipe is the perfect classic version. Light and fluffy, moist and full of flavor. There is a joke in the cake world that white is not a flavor but a white cake is not just white. Let’s dive into what makes the perfect white cake.

White wedding cake recipe

White cake recipes where originally created for weddings. Only the rich could afford white flour and sugar so a white cake was considered a symbol of your wealth. These days, a white cake with a fine, moist crumb is probably the most common flavor cake baked for all types of occasions.

Ironically, where I am from (Portland, Oregon) the more organic and less refined your ingredients are, the more expensive they are. Funny how things tend to go full-circle.

What is the difference between white cake and yellow cake?

Many people confuse white cake recipes with yellow cake or even vanilla cake. Although similar, these actually are totally different types of cakes. Mostly to do with how the eggs are incorporated. White cake only uses the white of the egg, sometimes whipped and then folded into the batter, sometimes added directly to the butter/sugar mixture. Vanilla cake uses both the egg whites and the egg yolks (usually) and results in a slightly off-white colored cake but in my opinion has the most flavor. A yellow cake is made with the egg yolks only so the batter has a very rich and golden color with lots of flavor.

Vanilla and white cake are both used in many different recipes as a base by substituting out spices or extracts. Yellow cake is traditionally paired with rich chocolate buttercream or ganache and is not often used as a base recipe for other flavors although it certainly could be.

Again, people laugh and say that “white” and “yellow” is not a flavor but making an order for “all egg yolk cake” just does not have the same ring to it.

How do you make white cake?

To make a white cake recipe, you need to make sure you’re using the right ingredients. For this recipe we are using AP flour because it is the most versatile. We are also using a high-quality butter that does not have any artificial dyes in it (did you know some companies dye their butter to be more yellow?) The whiter the butter, the better the cake. Traditional white cake uses almond extract which happens to also be clear. Now, I myself do not love the taste of almond extract so I prefer to use vanilla bean paste and vanilla extract.

BUT WAIT! You said that the ingredients had to be clear!

True, I did say that but here we come to one of those “taste over color” rules in my book. There are not a lot of ingredients in this recipe that bring flavor to the table but the quality of the extract is #1. The vanilla bean paste and the extract WILL slightly tinge the batter to not a PURE white but for me, I’d rather have that than no flavor at all. If you absolutely must have a white color then feel free to replace the vanilla in this recipe with 1 tsp of almond extract.

Another reason you might want to use almond extract or you can even use clear vanilla (imitation) extract is if you’re using this recipe as a base for another cake recipe like my strawberry cake where color is really important.

white cake recipe from scratch

Why is there oil in white cake recipes?

Funny thing, when we bite into a cake, certain things make us think “YUM!” Texture, flavor and moisture. Texture is achieved by proper mixing methods, flavor is achieved with high quality extracts but moisture is a tricky thing. You can’t just dump more moisture into your cake batter or you’ll end up with a gummy mess. One thing that makes your brain think “moist” is the addition of a little oil. I don’t like to add too much, about an ounce will do. I prefer to use vegetable oil because it doesn’t have a flavor and is colorless.

White cake recipe with sour cream (WASC)

A long long time ago (we’re not going to talk about how long) I remember reading in the cake forums about this magical white cake recipe called WASC cake that all the cake decorators used. I had no idea what it was but desperately wanted to know! I soon learned that WASC stood for White Almond Sour Cream cake and the first ingredient is a white box cake mix.

Whomp Whomp

Now, I don’t actually have anything against anyone who uses boxed mixes or doctors boxed mixes but for my personal journey as a cake decorator, I was looking to make my own recipes that would make me stand out. Anyone can whip up a box mix but then it just tastes like everyone else’s cake. You see what I’m saying?

So why would you use this type of white cake recipe? Well not everyone is a scratch baker or wants to be or maybe they just want a quick and easy cake recipe that will for sure turn out. This recipe is definitely a no-fail and is what you might call a “doctored box mix”. The addition of the sour cream and eggs makes it more flavorful, moist and detracts from that “chemical” taste that most box mixes have.

Would I suggest you make this instead of scratch mix? Well really that’s up to you. I promise I won’t hold it against you one way or the other just always be up-front with your customers (if you have them). If you say you bake from scratch then bake from scratch. If you use a box, it’s perfectly ok to say you use “freshly baked cakes”.

WASC-cake-recipe

Classic white cake recipe from scratch

So here’s the deal with white cake recipes. Just like with most things, there more than one way to skin a cat… er… bake a cake.

Who even came up with that saying? So bizaar.

So anyway, as I was saying. There are multiple ways to make a white cake but I’m going to make it REALLY easy for you. Option one is the traditional mixing style of creaming your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, adding in your egg whites until combined and then alternately adding in dry ingredients and liquids. This is the route I go.

The other option is you whip up your egg whites to a soft but firm peak. Then you cream butter and sugar as usual and alternate your dry and liquid ingredients until combined. You then fold in your egg whites into the batter. This technique results in a lighter, more delicate cake but CAN potentially cause over-mixing.

You can try both ways and see what you like best.

moist white cake

One more tip, I always wrap my cakes while they are still warm in plastic wrap and then place into the freezer. This locks in the moisture of the cake. Once cooled but not frozen, you can trim the brown edges off your cake (optional but results in a whiter slice) and frost with a nice white buttercream or any frosting you desire.

I hope that answers all your burning questions about white cake! If there’s something I missed, feel free to drop me a comment and if you like this recipe, please share and link back to me if you use it and I would love you forevah <3

Happy Baking!

– Liz

 

white cake
5 from 4 votes
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White Cake Recipe

A white cake recipe that is light, fluffy, full of flavor and easy to make! A great base recipe for any baker that can be adapted to other recipes.

6 cups of batter makes about 2 8" cake rounds.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 cups of batter

Ingredients

  • 14 oz AP flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz unsalted butter room temp
  • 14 oz sugar
  • 1 Tbsp extract clear vanilla or almond
  • 6 egg whites fresh not boxed at room temp
  • 10 oz milk room temp
  • 1 oz vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Combine your dry ingredients and set aside


  2. Place butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium until mixture is light and fluffy

  3. Add in egg whites one at a time (roughly) and let fully combine after each addition before adding the next. 

  4. Add in 1/3 of your dry ingredients and let combine. Add in 1/2 of your liquids, then dry, then liquids and the rest of your dry. Let mix until just combined. 

  5. Add batter into prepared cake pans and bake at 325 degrees F for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center. 

  6. Let cool ten minutes then turn out cakes onto a cooling rack. Wrap warm and place into the freezer to flash chill. This locks in the moisture. Once cool but not frozen you can then trim off the brown edges of your cakes and frost as desired. 

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28 reviews on “White Cake Recipe: The Complete Guide

  1. I really appreciated the great information in this article. I recently made a white cake for Easter and was so disappointed with the texture. After reading your article, I think I understand what I did wrong. I am for sure saving this in my favorites.

  2. Oh this is fabulous information. I have been struggling with white/yellow/vanilla for soooo long. I love your vanilla cake recipe, which I change up to make lemon. It is fantastic. I have been searching for a white cake that doesn’t taste like a buttermilk pancake. Weird, but many vanilla cakes taste this way to me. I really want to make a great white cake to pair with my homemade raspberry puree and lemon curd. I also like to alternate chocolate/white cake layers in one tall cake. Thanks so much. Gonna give this a try!

  3. Hi, just wondering it says 6 cups of batter makes 2 8″ cake rounds. So does that mean this recipe is only enough for 2 8″ or there is a little more left over? I need 2 9″ cake rounds.

  4. Hi, have been following your recipes for a while and finally have the opportunity to bake so want to try the white cake.

    When you say wrap, is that in foil or cling film? I want to make this cake this weekend but decorate next weekend, can I just leave in the freezer for a week? Do I then let it defrost or decorate it frozen?

    Thanks

  5. Would this cake be dense enough to hold up to carving? Looking for a nice dense cake that is still moist and yummy while being “carvable”

  6. Most beautiful batter I’ve ever seen. Not sure if it was supposed to or not, but it looked like the most beautiful vanilla bean ice cream I’ve ever seen!! Thanks for the info. I’ve been using a white cake recipe that was sooooooo 🙄 much trouble. This was a breeze and yummy to boot! 😇🎂

  7. I’m going to try this recipe, but I’m wondering what the ounces equate to in cups. Also, do you grease and flour your pans or just grease? Thanks for your help!

  8. In your opinion, are white cakes and vanilla cakes pretty similar? Changing out clear/brown vanilla and using, or not, almond extract aside…could a “white” cake be a “vanilla” cake? Maybe the addition of whole eggs vs just whites also makes a white cake white. Am I making any sense….

  9. Used this recipe for Memorial Day, and added strawberry jello to make it a poke cake. It turned out wonderfully, and have used this recipe numerous times. The perfect white cake recipe!

  10. How long will this cake retain moisture and flavor— for example, can it be iced one day, fondant covered the next and then decorated the 3rd day and still be moist for delivery the 4th?

    1. Yes it can, that is what we usually do here but we do it in three days. I bake, chill and crumb coat in one day to retain the most moisture, then decorate on the second day and deliver on the third

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