This rich, luscious Classic White Layer Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream was Bill’s birthday cake selection this year. It’s the kind of cake where you slice off a sliver, then another, and another.

This White Cake Recipe is impossible to resist! And the Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the most luscious frosting you’ll ever taste!

Classic White Layer Cake with White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream on a white cake stand.

Why You Must Make

  • A Swiss meringue buttercream is the icing on this cake so to speak! If you’ve never tasted this type of buttercream frosting, and definitely worth the bit of extra effort for special occasions.
  • The white layer cake has been my go-to non-chocolate layer cake, too. Made with egg whites, not yolks, it’s definitely a white cake!
  • It’s the perfect celebratory, especially for those rare folks who don’t like dark chocolate.

This is the sort of dessert that I slice off a sliver, trying to behave myself. But instead of being satisfied with a teeny slice, I go back again and again, eating more than if I had cut myself a reasonable portion. Thank goodness it’s baked in two 8-inch layer cake pans, so it can be polished off rather quickly!

White Layer Cake Ingredients on a sheet pan with labels.
White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients on a sheet pan with labels.

Ingredient Notes

  • Kitchen Staples – Sugar
  • Salt – I use table salt for baking since it’s finer than kosher salt and will disperse more efficiently.
  • Cake Flour – See expert tips below for how to make your own cake flour substitute if you’re in a pinch.
  • Milk – Have at room temperature
  • Egg Whites – Have at room temperature. Separate when cold as the yolks are less likely to break
  • Almond Extract
  • Vanilla Extract – Use real vanilla extract, not artificially flavored.
  • Baking Powder – This is not the same as baking soda. Baking powder has an expiration date and won’t give your cake the proper leavening if it’s old. Check the can to see if it’s fresh. You can test it by putting a spoonful in a bowl of very hot water. If it bubbles vigorously, it’s fresh.
  • Butter – At room temperature but still cool for the cake and at room temperature for the frosting
  • White Chocolate – I used Ghirardelli bars, chopped

How to Make the Cake

White Layer Cake Process Shots, labeled1,2.
  1. Mix together the milk, egg whites, and extracts. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add the butter and mix.
White Layer Cake Process Shots, numbered 3,4.
  1. Add half of the milk mixture and beat, then add the rest and beat some more.
  2. Divide the batter between 2 prepared cake pans and bake as directed. Cool before frosting.

How to Make the Frosting

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream shots #1.2.
  1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Place in simmering water and whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch.
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip until thick and cooled to room temperature.
White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting process shots 3,4.
  1. With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time.
  2. Add the melted white chocolate and vanilla and mix until smooth. Chill if the frosting needs to thicken before icing the cake.

Expert Tips for the Frosting

The white chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream has the most luxurious, silky smooth mouth feel that you can imagine. Made with egg whites, which are carefully warmed before being whipped with sugar, then made richer with butter and melted white chocolate, this buttercream is to die for.

  • Unlike other meringue recipes, the egg whites do not need to be at room temperature before whipping as they are warmed over a double boiler.
  • But note that eggs separate easiest when cold, so separate the whites from the yolks when fresh out of the refrigerator.
  • PRO-Tip: Avoid getting any egg yolk into your whites as that will inhibit them from whipping up properly. And your mixing bowl and beater should be grease free as well. If the equipment was washed in a dishwasher, it should be fine, but if you’ve hand washed, you might consider wiping all implements down with vinegar to eliminate any residue.
  • You don’t need an official double boiler for this recipe. Just use a large pan that your mixing bowl can fit inside, then fill that with water about 1/3 the way up the bowl. 
  • When it’s time to add the butter, make sure it’s at room temperature. You’ll be adding to the mixer one tablespoon at a time, and it must be incorporated before you add more. So having it soft is ideal.
  • Due to the eggs in the buttercream, this cake needs to be stored in the refrigerator.
  • PRO-Tip: Note that the cake will taste best if it’s brought to room temperature before serving.
  • When I made this cake again recently, I only made ⅔ of the frosting recipe as it makes more than enough for this cake. The amounts are listed in the notes section of the recipe card below.
Slice of Classic White Layer Cake with White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream on a white dessert plate.

Expert Tips for the Cake

 There are a few tips that will help make for a tender crumb, moist classic white layer cake. As always, read through the recipe before you begin and measure carefully.

  • Not using egg yolks help this cake keep from being a yellow cake, but save those extra yolks to make pudding or creme brulee.
  • Cake flour has less gluten than all-purpose flour and helps make for a more tender cake.
  • PRO-Tip: If you’re in a pinch and don’t have cake flour on hand, you can make it at home with a couple kitchen staples. For each cup of cake flour, measure out a cup of all-purpose flour, then remove 2 tablespoons and replace that flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. This helps lower to total gluten amount per cup.
  • Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl frequently during the mixing process. This will minimize the time you need to spend beating to get a smooth batter, and consequently, not activating the gluten any more than necessary.
  • PRO-Tip: I like using a (affiliate link) kitchen scale to make sure both layers have approximately the same amount of batter. You can certainly eyeball it pretty accurately. Slices of layer cake look best when the layers are the same depth.
  • Try to bake this white layer cake just until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Overbaking will create a drier cake. All ovens bake differently, so the times listed are just a general guideline.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Different Types of Buttercream Frosting?

There are at least seven types of buttercream frosting including American, French, Italian, Swiss and German. American is made with powdered sugar and butter. The Swiss meringue buttercream in this recipe is used by professionals since it’s very smooth with a nice butter flavor plus it’s not overly sweet.

How Do You Make Even Layers?

You can weigh your cake pans while you’re filling them so each of the filled pans weighs the same. If you don’t have a kitchen food scale, use a few toothpicks to measure the depth of the batter. Add or subtract batter from one pan to another until the batter lines on the toothpicks are about the same.

What Tools Do You Need to Frost a Cake?

Use offset spatulas to spread and smooth the frosting. I also tuck strips of parchment paper around the perimeter of the cake to prevent the frosting from getting on my cake stand or serving plate.

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Slice of Classic White Layer Cake with White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream on a white dessert plate

Classic White Layer Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield 12

A tender white layer cake iced with an exquisite Swiss meringue buttercream!


For Cake:

  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ sticks of butter, at room temperature but still cool

For Buttercream:

  • 9 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 6 eggs whites
  • 1½ cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ cups plus 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by spraying them with Baker's Joy and line them with rounds of parchment.
  2. Make sure milk and eggs are at room temperature.
  3. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter, cut into small pieces, and beat for a couple more minutes.
  5. Add half of the milk mixture to the flour mixture and beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes. Add the remaining milk mixture and beat for about 1 minute.
  6. Pour batter evenly between two prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 27 to 30 minutes.
  8. Allow cake to cool to room temperature.
  9. Melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, gently in the microwave, using 15-30 second intervals, stirring until melted. Cool to room temperature.
  10. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water so that the water comes a third of the way up the bowl.
  11. Whisk the egg whites till just hot to the touch, about 1-2 minutes.
  12. Use a mixer on high to whip the eggs until thick and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes.
  13. Turn the mixer speed to medium and add butter by tablespoon, making sure butter is mixed in before adding the next tablespoon.
  14. Add the chocolate and vanilla and mix until smooth. If the icing is too runny, refrigerate briefly until it thickens.
  15. Frost the cake when cooled to room temperature.


Cake adapted from Cook's Illustrated and frosting adapted from Ghirardelli.
You will have leftover buttercream. If you want to make ⅔ of a batch, use 6 ounces of white chocolate, 4 egg whites, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, and 1½ teaspoons vanilla.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 520Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 502mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 0gSugar: 45gProtein: 9g


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