The Ultimate White Cake

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ultimate white cake recipe
Photo: Nico Schinco/Styling: Erin McDowell

Sorry, ombre rainbow cakes, white cake is a timeless classic. A really great, tried and true recipe will come in handy again and again—much like your go-to little black dress.

Author of The Fearless Baker Erin McDowell has a special place in her heart for this ultimate white cake.

“In the past, my mom has freely admitted that part of the reason she attends weddings is that after the vows and photo ops and buffet, she might be served white cake,” McDowell said. “You know the kind­­—the really light, fluffy cake with a hint of almond and a thin layer of super sweet white frosting. So I developed this recipe for her.”

The simple two-layer cake is pretty enough for a special occasion, but not so fancy or huge that it couldn’t be made just because.



1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1½ cups (298g) granulated sugar

1¼ cups (284g) buttermilk

6 large (213g) egg whites

1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

2¼ cups (271g) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt


1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 cups (454g) powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon almond extract

⅓ cup (81g) heavy cream

Sprinkles, as needed


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

2. Make the Cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

3. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, egg whites, vanilla, and almond extracts to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt to combine.

4. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the mixer and mix to combine. Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl well.

5. Repeat this process, alternating dry and wet ingredients until all ingredients are incorporated. Scrape the bowl well to ensure the batter is homogenous.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth into an even layer. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Use a serrated knife to level off the surface of each cake to make a flat surface.

8. Make the Frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine.

9. With the mixer running, add the cream in a slow, steady stream until well combined.

10. Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand. Scoop about 1 cup of frosting onto the cake and spread into an even layer. Top with the second cake layer. Frost the cake all over, and garnish as desired with sprinkles.

Nutrition Facts
  • Cake

  • 267 calories

  • 13g fat

  • 35g carbs

  • 4g protein

  • 20g sugars

  • Frosting

  • 246 calories

  • 14g fat

  • 30g carbs

  • 0g protein

  • 30g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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erin jeanne mcdowell
Erin McDowell

Freelance Food Editor

Erin Jeanne McDowell is a recipe developer, food stylist and author of multiple cookbooks, including The Fearless Baker, which was named one of the Best Baking Books of 2017 by...
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