White Layer Cake Recipe

White cake lovers treasure the image of grandma gently folding a mound of whipped egg whites into a rich, buttery batter. Unfortunately it’s whipped whites that are the cause of what a lot of people don’t like in white cake: dryness. Or, if those egg white bubbles pop en masse, density. Plus dryness. Which is really no good for anybody. Nope, when it comes to white cake the “two-stage” or “one bowl” method is really the only way to go. You’ll need:

10 ounces (scant 2 1/4 cups) cake flour
10.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) soft butter
5 egg whites
8 ounces (1 cup) milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or for fun, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. almond)

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and preparing two 9″ cake layer pans for baking. Sift the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and stir on low for about 30 seconds to combine. Add the butter, and keep stirring until the butter is completely incorporated, about a minute. Meanwhile, combine the milk, egg whites and extract(s) in a bowl and whisk them together lightly with a fork. Add half the liquid mixture, turn the speed up to medium high and beat for about 90 seconds. Scrape the bowl, add half of what remains in the bowl, beat for about 20 seconds, scrape, add the last of the liquid, beat another 20 seconds or so.

Divide the batter among the two pans and bake on a middle rack for about 25 – 30 minutes, until the cake springs back when it’s tapped and toothpick comes out clean when it’s inserted into the center. Take the lays out of the oven, cool them on racks for about 10 minutes, then turn them out and allow them to cool completely. At that point they can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for about 2 days or frozen for about 2 months.

29 thoughts on “White Layer Cake Recipe”

  1. Joe – I find it interesting that you’ve used the two-stage method for white cake. I’ve never personally used it myself, but I will say that the traditional creaming method white cake recipes I’ve used in the past have given me mixed results. Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake comes to mind as one that worked well, while white cake from Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book was one that had all the issues you mentioned above. I guess one of these days I will have to try the two-stage method and compare the results!

  2. Hi Joe, Thanks for the recipe! I made it this afternoon. It went together much like the KAF recipe BUT when I took this cake out of the oven it did not collapse!! The only “mistakes” I made were 1) butter could have been softer and 2) when adding the second bit of liquid I turned the mixer speed up too fast and had quite a splash! I made lemon curd with the yolks and will assemble and eat tomorrow and report back.

    1. Oooh….lemon curd. I bet your cake is going to be amazing!

      Thanks for getting back to me on this, Heather!

      – Joe

      1. Well, Joe, it was a success! At my daughters request we had a welcome spring party tonight and the cake made the party perfect! I searched your icing and frosting section and settled on the chantilly cream to frost. I’ve been making whipped cream like that for some time but I like the name “chantilly”! I filled and topped the cake with the lemon curd then covered with the cream. It looked great and tasted just like I’ve always wanted my white cakes to taste! I’m so curious to see if Jennifer also has success.

        Thanks for all your work and for truly caring about your readers! Happy Spring!

        1. Woohoo!

          Wonderful, wonderful new, Heather. It does my heart good on a Friday. I’ll be putting a white cake together today for the cake wheel at the parish fish fry. I hope I have your success! Very well done.


          – Joe

  3. I consider this the “Rose Levy Berambaum” technique — she does a lot of cakes this way. They come out great.

    1. That is true! She didn’t invent the two-stage method but she has definitely done a lot to popularize it over the years!

      Thanks for the comment,

      – Joe

  4. Would it be possible to halve the recipe, add an extra egg white (3 instead of 2 1/2), and bake in two 6×2 pans?

    1. Hey Andrew!

      You definitely can do that. Maybe take out a little milk to compensate for adding the extra white. Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  5. Thank you, Joe.

    I wasn’t baking along when you did this but since I’ve read that the Prantl’s Bakery Burnt Almond Torte is the best cake in the entire country I thought I should try it for Easter.

    I found a cheater recipe that begins with a white cake mix but I’m thinking if it’s suppose to be the best cake in the entire country it had better begin with your recipe instead. So thanks in advance for a yummy Easter and wishing you and your family one too.

    BTW, any tips for storing baked layers? I typically cool them thoroughly then vacuum seal them and keep them in the freezer until I’m ready for final assembly but my vacuum sealer is in Vancouver and Easter is in Los Angeles.

    1. That’s awfully flattering! Let me know how it goes, Rainey!

      Also I freeze layers routinely as well. I just wrap them in plastic and they’re fine for weeks if need be. That’s the extent of my tips!

      Cheers and best of luck with the project!

      – Joe

  6. Hi Joe,

    Love your website. Would it be possible to cut down sugar content by half? Will this affect the cake texture?

    1. Hi Penny!

      Good question, you can cut the sugar down but it will change the texture. Try cutting it down by a third instead is my suggestion. You won’t have the same repercussions and you won’t have an overly sweet cake!


      – Joe

  7. Hi Joe,

    Towards the end you wrote, “add half of what remains in the bowl, beat for about 20 seconds, scrape, add the last of the liquid, beat another 20 seconds or so.”

    At what speed should I be using? Thanks!

  8. Hi, can I use a thin layer of cannoli cream between the white cake layers? And can I use four layers or will it be too heavy for the bottom layer. I am not sure if I should use a basic yellow cake or stick with the white. I am using a white chocolate buttercream frosting.

    1. Hey Liz!

      Yes you can use ricotta cream, but just to be safe I’d assemble not long before serving so as to prevent any residual whey from weeping into the cake. And are you talking four full-size layers? That’s a very tall cake if so. These layers are probably too tender for that. Use some cake supports if you’re determined to go that high: wooden rods through the bottom two layers propping up a cardboard cake circle on top of the second layer. Make sense?

      – Joe


    1. Hey Carol!

      When you say it wasn’t right, what was wrong exactly? Were the layers very thin? I can imaging they were if you went over to square pans, there’d be a lot less batter. But please be more specific. What when wrong?

      But thanks very much otherwise, we’ll get this figured out I think. Cheers,

      – Joe

    1. Hey Carol!

      Ah, I’m starting to see what’s going on. Your messages arrived in different order than I think they were intended, but I’m starting to get the picture now. Whenever you double a recipe with baking powder you want to cut back the leavening by about 15%. I know that’s a funny amount when you’re talking teaspoons, but taking a teaspoon and turning it into a “scant” teaspoon usually works. If you cut it back by as much as 25% the recipe generally still works, so don’t worry about being too precise. Just scoop, sweep and take a little away. You should be in good shape.

      – Joe

      1. thanks!!!! need this for a cake this weeken!!!!!
        Love Site, Learning new things every day!!! , So when I double this recipe, do not use the teaspoon use a scant teaspoon for every teaspoon needed in the above recipe right??? double recipe, would be 8-Scant teaspoon. Not 8 teaspoons?

        1. Hey Carol!

          Late again, sorry! Yes that’s more or less correct!

          How did it go?

          – Joe

  10. Joe! Here an argentinian living in italy writting! Thanks so much for your blog… I check it everytime before baking anything! So, i wanted to ask you… i made your recipe for the white cake.. and it was delicious, beautiful and moist, but extremely sweet. Is that how it’s supposed to be? Is there anyway to make it less sweet whitout messing the proportions? Thanks and lots of love!

Leave a Reply to Heather Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *