This Classic White Cake recipe pairs fluffy vanilla cake layers with a silky white Swiss meringue buttercream.
In my previous post, I shared some tips on how to make buttercream white. Today I’m sharing the perfect White Cake recipe to pair with that white buttercream.
I already have a Vanilla Cake recipe for you, which is perfectly pretty and delicious, but yellow-ish inside and out. There are certain occasions that call for a pure white cake and the yellow tint just won’t work.
White wedding cakes are probably most common, but a white cake base is also best if you’re looking to color the cake batter, because you won’t have to worry about the yellow tint affecting the colors.
Today, I’ve modified my Vanilla Cake recipe for you to make this classic White Cake.
How to Make a White Cake
There are a few key things you want to do to help ensure your cake is white inside and out:
- Use only egg whites
- Use the lightest color butter you can find and whip it well
- Use clear colored flavourings
- Use violet color gel to correct any yellow tint in the buttercream or cake
The main difference between a white cake and a vanilla cake is that a white cake uses egg whites rather than whole eggs, as the yolks tint the batter yellow. Using all egg whites tends to have a drying effect on the cake though (the yolks add more fat), so I’ve added some oil to the recipe to counteract that and to provide a bit more moisture.
You want to make sure to really whip your butter and sugar until it’s pale and fluffy, but avoid using a super yellow butter, as that can also affect the color of your cake.
Any flavourings you add (vanilla extract, almond extract, etc.) can tint the cake batter too. I used a clear vanilla extract here to make sure the color of the cake and frosting wasn’t affected.
How to Make Buttercream White
I have a detailed tutorial on how to make your buttercream white. There are a few tips in there that will help but I find the most effective to be adding some violet color gel.
I’ll admit that this trick works better with some frostings than others. I think it’s easier to get an American buttercream to be pure white than a Swiss meringue buttercream, but then I don’t have a ton of experience whitening either kind.
The violet gel trick totally worked here and neutralized a lot of the yellow, but not all of it. I maybe could have added more, but I was worried about the frosting turning grey or blue — experiment at your own risk! Be careful not to add too much.
I also added some Americolor Bright White color gel to bump up the white a bit.
I kept the decorating of this cake simple (I’m a less is more kinda girl). I don’t often use sprinkles on my cakes, but I have SO many different bottles of sprinkles in my pantry it’s not even funny. I just cannot resist the pretty colors! Especially when I can get them for a deal at Homesense.
Ironically, Ryan bought me the sprinkles I used on this cake for Christmas. None of the ones I had in the pantry would have worked as well or paired as well with this pretty cake stand (which is also coincidentally from Homesense). Actually, the props are too. Seriously, people, Homesense is where it’s at.
I used the All Dolled Up sprinkle mix from Sweetapolita, but took out all the large sprinkles and instead added some mini green pearls (GUESS where I got them??) to add more green color. I may have added a bit too many of the mini greens, but oh well!
This classic white cake is simple and delicious. The clear vanilla extract gives it a more candy-like birthday cake flavour, which I love. The cake is incredibly moist and tender, and the buttercream is a perfect silky pairing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I convert this recipe?
- The recipe as-is will also work in three 6″ pans. For three 8″ pans, 1.5x the recipe. Baking time may need to be adjusted.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so. The recipe will make 18-24 cupcakes depending on size.
- For other conversions go here.
Can I make it in advance?
- The cooled cake layers can be baked ahead of time, double wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 3 months. Take out 2-3 hours before assembly.
- The frosting can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for 1 week for frozen for 3 months. Bring to room temp and rewhip before using.
- The finished cake (whole or sliced, stored airtight) can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Tips for making this Classic White Cake Recipe
- I used a mixture of Sweetapolita’s All Dolled Up sprinkles and some mini green pearls.
- I used a 1M tip to pipe the frosting dollops on top.
- Be sure to check my Swiss Meringue Buttercream post for tips and troubleshooting.
- For easier buttercream options try my Simple Vanilla Buttercream, German Buttercream, or Ermine Frosting.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my How to Bake Flat Cake Layers post!
Classic White Cake
White Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- assorted sprinkles
- Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour two 8" cake rounds and line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and pale. Add sugar and oil and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (approx 3mins). Reduce speed and add egg whites one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Add clear vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition.
- Bake for approx. 35mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack.
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.*
- Place bowl over a pot with 1-2" of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch or reads 160F on a candy thermometer (approx. 3mins)
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.**
- Add clear vanilla and whip until smooth.
- Add violet color gel and/or bright white color gel as needed.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately 1 cup of buttercream. Repeat with remaining layer and crumb coat the cake. Chill for 20mins.
- Frost the top and sides of the cake and smooth with a bench scraper.
- Pipe rosette dollops using a 1M tip with remainder of frosting.
- Chill cake until frosting is firm. Gently press sprinkles gently along the bottom of the cake and sprinkle along the top.
** The buttercream may look like it's curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth. If it looks soupy, place it in the fridge for 20mins and rewhip.
Originally published on January 18, 2019