This is my go-to white cake recipe from scratch. Soft, light and fluffy cake topped with a melt in your mouth vanilla buttercream frosting. This amazing white cake is perfect for any occasion.
After moving to the Netherlands, I really wanted to start baking again. I went back to the basics and created the most delicious, soft white cake like the ones you get from the bakery. It’s not easy to create a light, fluffy, and flavorful cake. After several attempts, I finally found a keeper.
White Cake vs. Yellow Cake
It’s the color, right? Yes, but there’s more to it. The ingredients help give the cake it’s color, but also a different texture and flavor. White cake uses only the egg whites to give it the bright white color. Yellow cake uses egg yolks to give it a more rich yellow color. When I think of white cake, I think of wedding cakes with the purest white color.
Boxed Mix vs. From Scratch
I’ll be the first to say that I’m not opposed to box mixes. For a long time, I used a dressed up box cake mix. I’m not a huge fan of using just the boxed mix, but with a few extra ingredients it can really make a big difference. However, since my family has moved to the Netherlands, it has been a little difficult to find a Betty Crocker® cake box mix. So hence, the creation of this from-scratch recipe. I have tried numerous recipes for white cake, but none were perfect. After many attempts and tweaks, I finally have the perfect white cake.
Traditional Creaming Method
There are many methods to making a cake batter. After trying several ways, I learned that creaming my butter and sugar together makes it light and fluffy. Then I alternate dry ingredients and liquids a little bit at a time. Why do you alternate? It is so the liquid will accept the dry ingredients. I’m sure there is a more scientific answer but basically you don’t want to add all your liquids at first because you will have everything sloshing (is that a word?) together. After you’ve incorporated the dry and wet ingredients, I finish off with the eggs making sure that each one is incorporated before adding another.
How to Bake a Flat Cake
During the baking process, some cakes create a dome on the top of the cake. If your cake rises too much, then you wind up carving off a good bit of the cake and wasting cake. A flat cake helps ensure the cake is structurally sturdy and makes it easier to stack and decorate. The best way to make sure your cakes bake flat is to use something called a cake strip. These are little strips of fabric that you soak in water and then squeeze out any excess water. You place them around the cake pans and pop them into the oven. The cake strips also help prevent the sides of your cake from burning.
A Few Tips Before You Start
- Room Temperature – Make sure that your eggs, butter and sour cream are at room temperature. I know you want to rush and bake this cake, but trust me and let your ingredients come to room temperature.
- Prepare Your Pans – I like to use good quality aluminum cake pans which help prevent the cake from sticking to the pan. To prepare the pans, coat each pan with a little butter (use your hands and get a little messy). Then dust the pan with flour spreading it all around the pan and then tap the cake pans to get off any excess flour. I also add a circle of parchment paper to each tin after this process.
- Weigh Everything – If you don’t have a food scale, it’s time to invest in one. Weighing all your ingredients helps ensure everything is measured properly and comes out consistent each time. You can also use the food scale to make sure that each cake pan has equal amounts of batter in each one.
- Cake Flour – I found that cake flour makes a lighter cake than using all-purpose flour. Don’t have cake flour on hand? Don’t worry I never do either. For every cup of flour, just take out two tablespoons and substitute for cornstarch. And, make sure to sift all the dry ingredients together.
Here are some of the supplies I used to make this recipe:
This recipe makes three 8″ cakes.
White Cake from Scratch
For the cake:
- 3 1/2 cups cake flour (490 g)
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks of room temperature butter (169 g)
- 1 3/4 cups sugar (330 g)
- 5 egg whites
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla *preferably clear vanilla to keep the white color
- 1 1/3 cups milk (315 ml)
- 1 cup sour cream (260 g)
For the frosting:
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter (169 g)
- 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco) (100 g)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup milk (115 ml)
- 2 lb of powdered sugar (907 g)
- Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C.
- Prepare three 8-inch cake pans by coating each pan with butter and adding a light dusting of flour. Add a circle cut out of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the milk and sour cream together. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Scrape down the bowl.
- Turn the mixer to low speed and add the egg whites one at a time until combined. (May look curdled but it will smooth out as you beat). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the vanilla
- On low speed, add half of the dry ingredients. then add half of the milk mixture until. Alternating add the rest of the dry ingredients and the milk. Once the mixture is combined, mix it by hand with your rubber spatula to make sure the batter is combined thoroughly.
- Pour the batter evenly into the pans. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the cakes are cooked. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean then it's done.
- Allow cakes to cool (15-20 minutes) and then gently remove from the pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Frosting: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until smooth and creamy (2-3 minutes). Add half of the powdered sugar and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Add a 1/4 cup of the milk and mix. Add the remaining powdered sugar and milk. Mix on low for 30 seconds and gradually increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If is it too thick, add more milk.
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