Easy-to-make and even tastier to eat, there’s nothing that screams childhood more than white cake from store-bought mix. It’s literally nostalgia-in-a-box.
As I get older though, I find that the slightly processed taste that I get when I make box white cake isn’t what my grown-up palette wants anymore. And, as I love to bake from scratch, I realized that fluffy, tender white cake is actually pretty easy to make at home, which means I can finally satisfy my childhood inner kid AND my adult self all at the same time.
How to Make White Cake from Scratch
Making this white cake is super easy. Almost as easy as buying the box mix! But there are a couple of tricks that will help in achieving that fluffy soft cake you love.
Use cake flour: Cake flour is milled from soft wheat and contains the lowest amount of protein when compared to other flours, like all-purpose. A lower gluten flour results in a more tender cake crumb as opposed to using flour with higher gluten which will make your cake tough. If you make this cake with all-purpose flour, you’ll end up with a cake that has a texture resembling cornbread. My guess is you want that melt-in-your-mouth, love-me-tender crumb that you associate with the box mix. So, grab a box of cake flour and get baking!
Mix the butter with the dry ingredients: Most cake recipes have you cream the sugar and butter together before adding the dry and wet ingredients, this recipe is done a little differently. By mixing the butter in with the dry ingredients, the fat breaks down and coats the flour, making it even harder for gluten to form in the cake. Gluten tightens and strengthens baked goods, and you want a tender and soft cake! The fat helps achieve that velvet tight crumb that folks associate with the best white cakes.
What’s the Difference Between White and Yellow Cake
Yellow cake and white cake are pretty similar, but the biggest difference is yellow cake uses whole eggs, while white cake uses only egg whites. The egg yolks in a yellow cake add color and richness, while the egg whites in white cake helps maintain its color and gives it a tighter crumb.
You’ll notice that this cake has a more ivory color than a true white. This is because of the butter as well as the use of vanilla extract in the batter.
If you want to create an even more white colored cake
- Use imitation clear vanilla or almond extract in the recipe.
- Swap out half of the butter for shortening or coconut oil. Shortening will give the cake even more loft and bounce, while coconut oil will give the cake added richness and boost the vanilla notes.
How to Convert to a White Layer Cake or White Cupcakes
I baked this cake in a 9 x 13-inch rectangular pan, similar to how I would bake a box cake as a kid. But you can easily convert this recipe to a layer cake or cupcakes.
For a layer cake: Divide the batter into two 9-inch round cake pans. Bake the cake at 350°F for 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
For cupcakes: Divide the batter into two standard muffin pans, for 24 cupcakes total, lined with cupcake liners, if you prefer. Fill each cupcake liner about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Best Frosting to Use
I used a whipped cream frosting with cream cheese for this cake, which I adore. It’s a vanilla infused frosting that has subtle tang from the cream cheese and compliments the vanilla and almond notes in the cake. More importantly, it’s super fluffy and light, just like the cake!
Feel free to jazz up your cake with sprinkles or chocolate shavings over top. You can also serve this cake with a light dusting of powdered sugar for a simple snacking cake that would go perfectly with coffee or tea in the afternoon.
- 2 1/4 cups (295 grams) cake flour, do not substitute all-purpose
- 1 3/4 cup (350 grams) white sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, use a neutral flavored oil like canola or corn, not olive oil
- 6 egg whites
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Cooking spray
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Turn the mixer on the lowest speed, stir to combine, 5 to 10 seconds.
Cut butter and mix into dry ingredients:
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and sprinkle over the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer onto medium-low speed and mix, until the butter has broken down into the dry ingredients and you can’t see any more butter lumps, just moist crumbs, 1 1/2 minutes to 2 minutes.
Combine wet ingredients:
Into a large measuring cup or a medium bowl, add the milk, vegetable oil, egg whites, vanilla, and almond extract. Whisk to combine.
Add in wet ingredients:
Add most of the wet ingredients into the mixer, reserving about 1/2 cup of liquid.
Mix on medium slow speed, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix for an additional 30 seconds. Again, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix for an additional 15 seconds to make sure everything is incorporated and well blended.
Prepare baking pan and pour in batter:
Spray a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan with cooking spray. You can also line the pan with parchment paper for easier removal.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan firmly on the counter or table a couple of times to settle the batter and pop any air bubbles that may have formed.
Bake the cake:
Bake in the oven, until the top is golden brown, the edges are pulling away from the pan slightly, and a toothpick comes out clean with inserted in the center, 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool the cake, frost and serve:
Let the cake cool completely on a wire cooling rack until room temperature before attempting to frost it, about 2 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
The frosting used in the photos is Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting.