Naturally white, and easy to mix up with no special ingredients required, this white cake recipe from scratch is moist and delicious! Put down the box mix, and make white cake from scratch at home.
This is a white cake recipe, from scratch, with NO shortening, and REAL vanilla. This is that perfect white wedding cake recipe for the bride who doesn’t like artificial ingredients, the white cake for your picky four year old who doesn’t like yellow this week but wants vanilla cake at their birthday party, the white cake recipe you use to build a perfect ombre layer cake, the white cake you use as a base for the perfect funfetti cake, the white cake the led to the perfect white cupcake recipe. This is that white cake recipe.
What is white cake?
It’s a classic at weddings, often flavored with almond extract, and frequently requested by those who don’t like dense, dry cakes at parties or celebrations. It’s really delicious, but also often reliant on artificial ingredients or shortening to maintain its white color. Because the cake has no butter or egg yolks, it’s also easy to dry out, and no one likes dry cake! I’ve experimented with recipes for years, but it wasn’t until I decided to just wing it and modify one of my tried and true vanilla cake recipes that I found a consistently perfect, beautifully textured product I was happy with. I love this cake recipe!
By using oil to replace some of the egg in the cake batter, we help retain the moisture so your cake stays delicious, and prevent it from drying quickly during baking. We have to remove the egg yolks to ensure a white color, but doing so removes fat, which we need to get that really nice layer cake crumb, and adding the oil is a great way to compensate. It also helps to keep things light versus using something like shortening. Shortening isn’t something I like to use, so I always look for alternatives. I also find that the cakes made with shortening turn out a little too dense.
If you’d like a full breakdown of how swapping ingredients changes the final outcome of a white cake, hope over to The Great White Cake Bake Off post!
What makes this white cake from scratch recipe special?
The ease of making this white cake makes it very accessible, even for novice bakers. The final texture is moist and makes this cake a great neutral white base for decorating. The cake is not fluffy like an angel food cake, but the crumb is just rich enough to be paired with a variety of frostings and not be overwhelming.
I used my homemade vanilla extract to flavor my cake. As you can see, it still turned out a lovely shade of white despite the colored extract. You may use any extract you’d like, and of course it’s a great flavor to pair with just about any filling and frosting you can think of. The pictured cake has my Swiss meringue buttercream flavored with vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans.
Tips for white cake baking success…
For a richer flavor, don’t skip the almond extract. I understand it’s not something everyone has in the pantry, but it is easily purchased at any store. If you have a nut allergy and can’t do almond extract, feel free to add a full tablespoon of vanilla.
When you add your flour to the cake, mix until just combined and no more. You don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour. While this recipe works just fine with all purpose flour, cake flour is lower in protein and makes for a slightly better crumb. If you don’t want to buy cake flour, it’s easy to make your own. Measure out 1 cup of flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift this 2-3 times to make sure that the cornstarch is well distributed.
Bring all your ingredients to room temperature. Ingredients at the improper temperature will cause any cake (not just white cake) to get a little “cornbread-y”. I bring my milk and eggs to room temperature quickly by placing a 2-cup measuring cup with the milk and my 2 eggs in a cake pan filled partway with hot water. It takes about 5 minutes and everything is good to go!
Don’t over-bake the cake. When you reach the alloted baking time, check the cake for done-ness. The center should spring back lightly and you’ll see a lovely pale gold just peeking up around the edges of the cake. That’s it. You don’t want to over-bake or you’ll get a thick “crust” around the edge of the cake, meaning that you lose delicious cake when you trim away the edges for a completely white look. If you choose to do so, of course. That part is entirely up to you!
What about white cupcakes?
This cake recipe will bake up into lovely cupcakes, but my favorite favorite white cupcake recipe comes from the “original” white cake that lived on this page, which you can now find here: https://goodiegodmother.com/perfect-white-cupcakes-from-scratch/
Happy baking, darlings!
Is there more cake?
There’s always cake here. 😉 If you enjoy baking from scratch cakes, I’d like to invite you to check out some of the other cakes on the blog including: yellow cake from scratch, bake-flat chocolate cake, almond cake from scratch, and strawberry cake from scratch.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2/3 cup neutral-flavored oil, avocado oil or canola oil are what I usually use
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or other extract of your choice
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 cups cake flour
- Preheat your oven to 350 F, butter 2 8" round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Combine the dry ingredients (except the flour) in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients in a smaller mixing bowl.
- Pour the 1/3 of the wet ingredients into the sugar mixture, mix, then 1 cup of flour and mix until just combined. Repeat 2 more times. The batter will not be completely smooth and will look kind of runny.
- Divide batter evenly between your cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or 17-20 minutes for cupcakes until the center of the cake springs back when touched.
- Allow cakes to set for 5-10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You may also wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator 1-2 days or freeze (double wrap!) up to 3 months.
- Frost and decorate as desired.
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