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Simple White Cake Recipe (from scratch)

You can make this Simple White Cake Recipe (from scratch). No, really!

DIY White Cake Recipe

I confess, I usually start with a boxed mix when baking my cakes. If you read my How to Doctor a Boxed Cake Mix post, you know I love, love, love starting with a mix.

Coming up with a “from scratch” white cake recipe has eluded me for years. I can’t begin to tell you how many cakes I’ve baked and tossed into the trash can (or put down the garbage disposal). Eight, to be precise! (I’m not too proud to admit it!)

There are So Many White Cake Mix Recipes Out There!

Most of my scratch cake flops were too pancake-like in texture and taste. I still haven’t figured out why. Probably just couldn’t get the right balance of ingredients. Or maybe the illusion that all-purpose flour would work just fine turned out to be a big, fat lie.

simple white cake recipe from www.outoftheboxbaking.com

But, I digress. All-purpose flour is a good alternative when you don’t have the funds for cake flour, but turning it into cake flour is a process, one I cover thoroughly in my DIY cake flour post.

Still, I wanted to keep trying. With store shelves emptier than usual in recent weeks it has become increasingly more important to know how to make as many items as we can from scratch, after all. (My favorite grocery store seems to have a shortage of boxed cake mixes lately, which is concerning.)

Never Give Up!

All that to say, I kept trying. And trying. And trying. And wasting a lot of ingredients in the process. Some of the cakes were too moist. One was so dense I could have used it as a hockey puck. One was a dark golden color, even though there were (literally) no yellow ingredients in it. (That particular recipe was oil-based with only egg whites.) How did it turn yellow on me? I have no idea. but, into the trash it went!

Eight cakes in I concluded I must be an epic failure as a baker. What sort of cake baker/decorator can’t even whip together a simple white cake? Me, apparently.

Then I stumbled across a recipe that actually came together without flopping.

Now, I won’t lie. I still prefer the taste and texture of my boxed cake mixes. I’ve decided it’s just a personal preference. I know. I’m weird.

But, as homemade cakes go, this one will do the trick if and when I’m unable to get my favorite boxed brand at the store. And I love the idea that this recipe can be adjusted, adding all sorts of other ingredients.

So, what goes into this simple mix, the one that eluded me for so long? All very basic things that you likely have in your pantry or refrigerator.

White Cake Ingredients:

This simple recipe will make two 8″ cakes. You will find the full printable recipe at the bottom of this post, but here’s what you’ll need:

  • homemade cake flour (see instructions below)
  • baking powder
  • granulated sugar
  • salt
  • shortening
  • room temperature egg whites
  • whole milk, room temperature
  • almond extract

How to This Make Simple White Cake Recipe

It’s time to whip up this simple cake. It comes together so quickly!

Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees.

Make your cake flour. (I did a full post on this. To make one cup start with one cup of all-purpose flour, but pull out 2 tablespoons and add in 2 tablespoons of corn starch in its place. Sift 4-5 times, going back and forth between two bowls. Because I knew I needed 2 1/3 cups of cake flour for this recipe I started with 2 cups of all-purpose and ended up with more than enough.

Once the cake flour is made:

Take all of your dry ingredients and whisk them together into a large bowl. Set aside your flour mixture.

Put your flour mixture into a mixing bowl and add the shortening. You can use an electric mixer but I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mixing until the shortening was worked in. (You can do this part by hand with a fork or pastry cutter, if you like.)

Add your room temperature egg whites, one at a time. You can always add vanilla extract, too, but use the clear vanilla if you’re going for a lighter colored cake. If you’re okay with a yellow cake, add the egg yolks, too! I kept mine white.

Set your mixture on low speed and slowly beat in the milk, adding only a tiny bit at a time. Continue to mix until all of the milk is incorporated. Now add your extract.

Now add 1/4 of your milk.

Now 1/4 of your dry mixture.

Now 1/4 of your milk.

That’s it! You’re ready to bake! Pour cake batter it into two prepared 8″ pans. (I went with round pans, which is my norm.) Scrape the bottom of the bowl so you don’t leave any of the batter behind!

simple white cake recipe from www.outoftheboxbaking.com

Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until golden. The cake should spring back to the touch.

Place cake pan on a wire rack for a few minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack to finish cooling.

Don’t attempt to decorate until the cake is fully cooled.

Layer your cakes and add your fillings. I went with a The Ultimate Decorator’s Buttercream (whipped shortening with powdered sugar and a dash of whipping cream) and filled the cake with strawberry preserves.

Stack your cake layers, flipping the top one upside-down.

It’s time to frost the cake! Use the remaining frosting for a lovely layer cake.

This is a moist cake with a nice texture. It can be decorated in a variety of ways, as you’ll see in the images below. All of these are simple white cakes.

Variations on this Simple White Cake Recipe

Maybe you’re interested in loading up your cake with other yummy ingredients. This recipe is a great foundation! Just add the following:

  • For Italian Cream Cake add 2 ounces of powdered instant pudding, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 cup toasted (or plain sweetened) coconut.
  • For Chocolate Cake, add 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • For Red Velvet, add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to the milk and then add cocoa and a dash of red coloring gel.
  • For Cookies and Cream cake, add 1 cup chopped Oreos and 2 oz Oreo instant pudding mix
  • For coconut cake, add coconut extract and sweetened coconut flakes (1 cup)
  • For richer texture, add sour cream in place of some of your milk.
  • For cupcakes: trim back on the milk (using only 1 1/2 cups) and scoop batter into cupcake liners.
  • Turn this recipe into a yellow cake by adding whole eggs and butter in place of shortening.
  • Birthday cake! Add 1 cup of sprinkles (being careful to fold them in gently).
  • Turn into a strawberry back but slicing fresh berries and placing them between layers. (You can also added sliced berries to the batter.)
  • Use this recipe in two 9-inch pans, but you will end up with thinner layers.
  • For vanilla flavor, add vanilla and eliminate the almond extract.

There are so many ways to dress up a white cake! Just start with a simple mx and go from there!

Next time, I plan to turn mine into a cinnamon cake. Yum!

If You’re a Fan of White Cake but Want to Start with a Boxed Mix. . .

Check out some of my recipes. I think you’ll love my Easy DIY Wedding Cake post.

For the absolute best white cake recipe, start with a Pillsbury box mix and add milk instead of water, four egg whites (instead of three whole eggs), butter in place of oil. Yum! Golden butter cake is the best!

I’m also a big fan of this Italian Cream Cake recipe.

And, of course, you’ll want to consider my Dreamy Buttercream Frosting to put on top of your cake! (It’s my favorite frosting!)

Simple White Cake Recipe

Simple White Cake Recipe

Yield: 15 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups homemade cake flour (see instructions below)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 large room temperature egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1-2 teaspoons almond extract (your preference)

Instructions

    HOW TO MAKE THIS SIMPLE WHITE CAKE RECIPE
    Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees.
    Make your cake flour. (I did a full post on this but to make one cup start with one cup of all purpose flour, but pull out 2 tablespoons and add in 2 tablespoons of corn starch in its place. Sift 4-5 times, going back and forth between two bowls. Because I knew I needed 3 1/2 cups of cake flour for this recipe I started with 3 cups of all purpose and ended up with more than enough.

    Once the cake flour is made:
    Take all of your dry ingredients and whisk them together into a large bowl. Set aside.
    Place your room temperature butter in a large mixing bowl. Use your paddle attachment to whip until light and fluffy.
    Add your extracts and your egg whites, one at a time. The mixture might look a little funky at this point.
    Lower your mixer speed and slowly beat in 1/4 of your dry mixture
    Now add 1/4 of your milk
    Now 1/4 of your dry mixture
    Now 1/4 of your milk.
    And so on until it's all incorporated.
    That's it! Your batter is done. Place it in two prepared 8" round pans. Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until golden. The cake should spring back to the touch.
    Place cake pan on a wire cooling rack for a few minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack to finish cooling.
    Don't attempt to decorate until the cake is fully cooled.
    Layer your cakes and add your fillings. I went with a traditional buttercream (whipped butter with powdered sugar and a dash of whipping cream) with strawberry preserves.
    It's time to frost the cake! Use the rest of your buttercream.
    Slice and serve! (This cake will not require refrigeration but it's yummy chilled!)

Notes

See the post above for variations on this cake!

Check out the goodies on Miz Helen’s Full Plate Thursday!

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