Friday, February 1, 2013

Moist White Cake

Delicate white cake is one of the most popular cakes, but it can be hard to find a recipe that is both light and moist. Sour cream keeps this white cake moist, while beating the egg whites and then gently folding them into the batter keeps the texture light and delicate. This recipe is so versatile - you can use the standard Vanilla extract, or vary the flavor by using other extracts like Almond or Anise (see notes below). This white cake would work well as the base for a Lady Baltimore Cake.

3 1/2 Cups Sifted Cake Flour
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract*
7 Egg Whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9" round pans with parchment paper, or use paper cupcake liners to make cupcakes. (This recipe makes 34-36 cupcakes)

Put all dry ingredients (Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Sugar) together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Turn the mixer on low and mix the dry ingredients until they are well blended (If using a KitchenAid mixer, use the paddle attachment).

Add the butter into the flour mixture in small chunks, along with the milk. (It is very important that your butter is soft at room temperature or it will not get incorporated with the flour properly). Mix on low until moistened and then turn the mixer up to medium. Beat for 60 seconds to aerate.

Add the sour cream and vanilla into the batter, mixing for only about 20 seconds to blend it in.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (Don't beat them until they are dry, though - you want the egg whites to be thick and stiff but still moist and glossy-looking).

Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, using large slow strokes by hand. You will see streaks of egg white in the batter, that's okay, you don't want to overmix it.

Pour into pans and smooth the batter with the spoon to spread it evenly in the pan. OR if making cupcakes, use a standard ice-cream scoop to measure and dispense the batter into the cups. I find that one level scoop is the right size for a perfect cupcake, each cup no more than half full.

Bake 18-20 minutes for cupcakes
25-30 minutes for three small layers (6" or 8")
30-35 minutes for two medium layers (9" or 10")
40-45 minutes for one large layer (12")
***Bake just until the cakes spring back to the touch or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. This cake will not brown a lot, only slightly at the edges. So don't wait for it to brown or it may be overdone.

*If using other flavored extracts, follow this chart:
Almond extract = 1 teaspoon
Anise Extract = 1/2 teaspoon
Rum Extract = 1 teaspoon
Lemon or Orange Extract = 1 teaspoon (also add 1 Tablespoon zest if possible)


  1. Hi Thanks for posting this lovely looking cake,just wanted to know if there is a substitute for sour cream

  2. Sure, in place of sour cream you could use plain unflavored yogurt. Thanks for the comment!

  3. this looks like a wonderful moist cake

  4. Just took my cakes out of the oven. I hope they turn out! They took quite a bit longer than your recipe states. Could be my oven, but usually it takes less time.

    1. I have tested different sizes and adjusted the cooking times accordingly so I hope this solves that problem. Thanks for letting me know!

  5. We ate the cake today and it was AWESOME! Everyone loved it. This is definitely a keeper!

  6. My cake totally flopped. The batter was more like cookie dough. I think I mixed it too much? Would love for you to add step-by-step pictures especially for the part you add the milk and butter.

    1. I'm sorry to hear that, but I am glad you commented here so I can address it. If the batter was like cookie dough, something definitely went wrong. I am making this cake next week and will take step-by-step pictures to add to this post. I wonder what went wrong. It could be overmixing. Did you beat the egg whites until they were stiff and then fold them in? I'd like to help so that I can make the directions more clear. In the meantime, check out this post about the reverse creaming method used for this cake:

  7. Would it be okay to add a package of vanilla pudding to the mix?

  8. Can you use regular all purpose flour instrad of cake flour

  9. This will sound like a stupid question, but do you measure the cake flour first and then sift, or sift first and then measure out 3-1/2 cups?

  10. I'm trying this cake for the first time today. I, too, would like some photos. My batter before I added the egg whites was very cookie dough like. I was afraid to overmix the egg whites so i didn't mix them in fully. I'm really hoping some magic happens in the oven!

  11. Thanks for the suggestion, I will add some step-by- step pictures soon. Let me know how it turns out this time.

  12. Made this cake today. I wanted something from scratch and also wanted to use up some cake flour I had in the house. It's very good!Great flavor and I used vanilla for flavoring.

  13. This recipe sounds like it will be really good. I love white cake. Why do people look at a recipe and then want to change it and then wonder why it doesn't taste as well as the original?

  14. I never post feedback on recipes, but I just baked three batches of this mix and it came out light and fluffy. My husband is a hard critic and always says my from-scratch cakes are dense, but not today. These are the modifications:
    1) I used buttermilk instead of milk
    2) I baked 12" round pan for a duration of 30 minutes.

    Thank you! I'm bookmarking your site! :)