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.
White Cake Recipe FROM SCRATCH!
Perfect white cake recipe from scratch! No shortening or artificial ingredients in the recipe, but you still get a moist, white cake, with a perfect crumb.
- 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.
- To ensure the cake stays light, be careful not to add too much flour. It's best to fluff the flour before scooping, then gently pile it into your measuring cup and use a flat edge to level. If you use the sides of your flour container, you inadvertently pack more flour into the recipe than called for.
- If you don't have cake flour, measure out 3 cups of all-purpose flour, remove 6 tablespoons and replace with 6 tablespoons of cornstarch. Whisk together the flour and cornstarch very well to evenly distribute. This is an excellent substitute for cake flour and one I use very often!
- If you don't need the cake to be pure white, feel free to substitute one whole egg for the two egg whites.
- To make the cake dairy-free: Substitute your favorite non-dairy milk! A higher fat non-dairy milk will work best, but even a lower fat option like almond milk works in a pinch.
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Cooptop Silicone Spatula Set - Rubber Spatula - Heat Resistant Baking Spoon & Spatulas (Macaron Blue)
Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons - Set of 8 Cooper Measuring Cups and Spoons Set with Walnut Wood Handle, Nesting Measuring Cup Set for Dry and Liquid Ingredients (Rose Gold)
Kitchen Aid Mixer
Flex Edge Beater for KitchenAid Tilt-Head Stand Mixer, 4.5-5 Quart Flat Beater Blade with Flexible Silicone Edges Bowl Scraper
Wilton Aluminum 8-Inch Round Cake Pan Set, Multipack of 2
Wednesday 3rd of August 2022
I’ve been looking for an amazing white cake recipe and thanks to you I finally found it! Lifesaver! Turned out light fluffy and delicious!
Wednesday 17th of November 2021
I want to give this recipe a try. I need to make a 9 by 13 cake. Will this recipe work? How much does each pan need to be filled?
Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
Thursday 18th of November 2021
Bake the entire recipe in a single 9x13-inch pan. Then if you need to make it 2 layers, divide that in half.
Saturday 2nd of October 2021
I just used this recipe for the first time to make my daughter’s birthday cake for her 3rd birthday. It’s a delicious cake and decorated so easily! It turned out beautiful and it will be my go-to white cake recipe. Hands down the best texture and tasting white cake I have made. Thank you!!!
Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
Tuesday 19th of October 2021
Thank you so much for sharing! Happy birthday to your little girl!
Tuesday 13th of July 2021
I don't know what I did wrong. I followed the recipe to a tee, using sunflower oil, because the canola oil available where I live is really yellow, and I wanted a truly white cake. I took special care to separate the egg whites, ensuring no yolk was present, yet my cakes came out look very yellow (definitely not white, at all). Furthermore, they developed a deep golden brown sticky crust on the outside. I baked them at 375F as indicated for 30 minutes. Any tips or advice for when I retest this recipe on the weekend would be appreciated. I had high hopes for it when I saw the batter - definitely whiter than other recipes I have tried. It just didn't work out for some reason.
Thursday 9th of December 2021
@Kayla, the recipe says to preheat and bake at 350. That may or may not help.
Wednesday 4th of August 2021
@Kayla, 375 is high for a cake. It says 350 degrees.
Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
Sunday 18th of July 2021
I'm so sorry it didn't work out! I haven't baked with sunflower oil, so I'm not sure if the lower smoke point may have impacted the color at all by changing some of the reactions during baking. Because of the Maillard reactions, you'll always get a bit of a brown crust on the outside of the cake. When I want a very white cake, I carefully trim that bit off just before frosting.
If you don't want to try another oil, my only suggestion might be to reduce the amount of sunflower oil to a half cup and see if that helps.
Wednesday 24th of February 2021
I've been using this cake recipe as a base for the last few years. Cupcakes, layer cakes and for a wedding cake (dense) use two eggs and coconut oil. I love that its versatile enough to be light or dense and dairy free plus its so quick and hassle free. I can have them in the oven and washed up within 10 minutes! Thankyou :)
Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
Wednesday 3rd of March 2021
I'm so glad you enjoy the recipe, Anna!