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Slice of vanilla cake on a round dessert plate with two raspberries and a red handled fork

Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

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This dense, delicious Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream made a dreamy, one layer birthday cake! It’s just the right size for a small gathering.

With a variety of picky palates in our household, I went to our favorite white chocolate cupcake recipe and baked it up in an 8-inch cake pan. There were absolutely no complaints or leftovers of this scrumptious White Cake Recipe!

Close up of vanilla cae on a white cake stand wih raspberries and mint garnishes

Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

Bill’s birthday was approaching, and even though I know he’d prefer the most decadent dark chocolate dessert I could create, he always selects a birthday cake that Katie would enjoy. This year, instead of the yellow cake with chocolate icing we’ve had the past 3 or so birthdays, he asked for a white chocolate cake.

I decided to convert our favorite white chocolate cupcakes recipe into an 8-inch cake and use the same exquisite Swiss meringue buttercream for icing. And voila…Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream. The cake turned out denser than I expected, but still really tasty…though the true star of the show was the white chocolate icing!

Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream on a white cake stand with one slice in the foreground

Types of Buttercream Frosting

If you’re unfamiliar with the different kinds of buttercream, there are numerous types, but I’ll focus on the 3 most popular.

  • American Buttercream or simple buttercream is a 2 to 1 ratio of powdered sugar to butter along with milk or cream and flavorings. This is the easiest type of buttercream to make, but it easily melts in hot weather.
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream is used by professional bakers and involves heating sugar and egg whites in a double boiler, then beating the mixture into a fluffy meringue. Next softened butter is slowly incorporated. Finally, flavorings are added. This frosting is more stable than American Buttercream.
  • Italian Meringue Buttercream is a bit more difficult as the egg whites are first whipped, then a hot sugar syrup, at a specific temperature, is drizzled into the whipping egg whites. This mixture must cool before adding the butter. This is the most stable of the three buttercream frostings.

How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Though this frosting takes a little longer than a simple buttercream, it’s such a luscious, silky frosting that it’s worth making for special occasions.

  • Have your butter cut into tablespoons and at room temperature.
  • Melt your chocolate and let cool to room temperature.
  • Fill a pan with a couple of inches of simmering water. Combine the sugar and egg whites in your mixer bowl and place it into the pan allowing the water to come up high enough to heat the mixture. Whisk until hot to the touch, which should take a few minutes. 
  • PRO-Tip: This heating process will bring the egg whites to at least 140 degrees and will kill any pathogens that could cause food poisoning.
  • Return the bowl to your mixer and beat on high until the eggs thicken and cool to room temperature.
  • With the mixer on medium, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, making sure each pat is incorporated before adding the next.
  • Finally, add the flavorings (and chocolate if using) and mix until smooth.
  • Refrigerate if the buttercream needs to thicken a bit before frosting your vanilla cake.

How to Store this White Chocolate Frosting

You will have some extra, but it’s too darn tasty not to save! Thank goodness this buttercream has a good shelf life! It can  be held safely at room temperature for up to 2 days, but it will start to deteriorate a bit after 8 hours. Keep it refrigerated up to 2 weeks and it also can be frozen up to 3 months, stored in an airtight container. I haven’t tested freezing and defrosting this frosting, though.

Overhead view of vanilla cake on a white cake stand with raspberries and mint

Converting a Cupcake Recipe into a Cake

I decided to convert our favorite white chocolate cupcakes recipe into an 8-inch cake and use the same exquisite Swiss meringue buttercream for icing. And voila…Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream. The cake turned out denser than I expected, but still really tasty, though the true star of the show was the white chocolate icing and jumbo white chocolate curl garnish.

To convert a recipe for 12 cupcakes into a cake, this method works for most recipes.

  • Make the cupcake batter as directed in the recipe.
  • Once it’s mixed, scrape it into a greased 8-inch cake pan.
  • If you’re worried about sticking, line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment, then grease the top of the parchment.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Frost as desired.
A slice of this white cake recipe on a white dessert plate with a red handled fork and raspberry garnish

How to Make White Chocolate Curls

The first time I made this white cake recipe, I went the extra mile and topped it with white chocolate curls. See a photo and the technique in the second recipe card below.

In case you haven’t mastered the chocolate curl, read on. I’ve abandoned the vegetable peeler and started using the Pioneer Woman’s method, first shared in this blog post to top this Fluffy Chocolate Dessert. Note that white chocolate is softer than semisweet chocolate so may need to be chilled a wee bit longer.

Basically, melt the chocolate with a small amount of shortening. Then spread a thin coating on the back of a sheet pan or another flat surface you can fit in the freezer. After a few minutes, test the chocolate by taking a bench scraper or metal spatula and scrape from the bottom of the pan to make a curl. If your chocolate is too soft, place the pan back in the freezer for a minute or so. If your chocolate breaks instead of curls, let the chocolate warm up a bit at room temperature. Then try again!

PRO-Tip: To test whether your chocolate is ready to curl, use your fingertip to press down on your chilled chocolate. It should leave a slight mark, not an obvious indentation. A white chocolate version of curls made a beautiful topper for this tasty Vanilla Cake!

More Tasty Cake Recipes:

This recipe was first shared in April 2013. The photos and text were updated in 2020.

Slice of vanilla cake on a round dessert plate with two raspberries and a red handled fork

Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

A tender, one layer vanilla cake topped with a luscious white chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream frosting and white chocolate curls!

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Frosting:

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature (if you use unsalted just add a pinch of salt)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350º. Line 8 inch cake pan with a parchment round, then grease the pan

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed till light. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl between additions. Mix together milk, lemon, and vanilla. Add half this mixture to the batter. Mix until just blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add half the dry ingredients and mix in well, followed by the remaining milk mixture, then the rest of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the middle of the oven about 50 minutes or till a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then remove to rack to finish cooling.

Melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, gently in the microwave…use 15-30 second intervals, stirring till melted. Cool to room temperature.

Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of the mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water so that the water comes a third of the way up the bowl. Whisk the egg whites till just hot to the touch, about 1-2 minutes.

Use mixer on high to whip the eggs till thick and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Turn mixer speed to medium and add butter by tablespoon, making sure butter is mixed in before adding the next tablespoon. Add the chocolate and vanilla and mix till smooth. If the icing is too runny, refrigerate briefly till it thickens. Ice the cake...there will be plenty of frosting for a generous layer!

Notes

Adapted from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook
Cake

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 431Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 291mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 0gSugar: 44gProtein: 6g

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Overhead view of Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

White Chocolate Curls

A beautiful topping for white chocolate or vanilla desserts!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 24 curls

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces of white chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon of shortening

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate with shortening (I use the microwave). Spread the warm chocolate out on the back of a sheet pan with an offset spatula….nearly covering the whole surface. The layer should be thin, but not translucent.
  2. Place it in the freezer for 2-3 minutes. My chocolate was a little too hard when I pulled it out, but it was curling consistency after a minute or so at room temperature.
  3. Using a metal bench scraper (but you could use a metal spatula with a very straight/sharped edged scooping end), scrape off chocolate curls. Not every piece was perfect, but the leftover shards could still be used for garnishing. These curls will get soft as they warm up to room temperature, so refrigerate till needed.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 62Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 1g

HOW MUCH DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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91 comments on “Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream”

  1. looks soooo good! and i love the white chocolate garnishes!

  2. What a nice husband and father! Although sacrificing dark chocolate for this divine creation may not be the toughest decision =)

    You do have Ree’s chocolate curls mastered, Liz. Bravo!

    Looking forward to trying out the cake and frosting recipe.

    P.s. I made your oatmeal white choco and apricot cookies for David’s MeetUp. They were the stars of the lunch spread. Merci beaucoup!

  3. That’s a beautiful cake! The icing does sound good, I’ve never made one that’s cooked on the stove, might be fun to try it:@)

  4. Your cake looks beautiful, and thanks for the tip on making curls. Your husband is so kind to think of his daughter when choosing a birthday cake!

  5. As always, your cake is stunning, Liz. So pretty that I would hate to cut it. But I’m glad you did so we could see the deliciously thick buttercream you’ve heaped it with. It is perfect in every way.

  6. Now that’s a cake for this frosting loving gal!! Oh my stars you have outdone yourself Liz!

  7. Thank you for sharing this keeper! White chocolate is amazing and so is this cake!

  8. Lizzy , the thick and sumptuous white buttercream icing is calling my name 😀 Beautiful cake !

  9. Liz, your cake is just gorgeous! I simply love it and it’s so perfect for a shower or any kind of event!

  10. This cake is beautiful! The fresh berries with the white chocolate buttercream, Oh My! Yum!

  11. I’m pretty sure this is so sinful that it should be illegal.

  12. That looks amazing! Happy Birthday Bill!

  13. What an insanely awesome and thick layer of frosting! Yum!

  14. This look absolutely wonderful Lizzy, georgeous:)

  15. What a beautiful cake! Love the curls and that super thick layer of buttercream!

  16. Sweet, decadent bliss. Love the curly decor too, Liz. So sweet how Bill picks his birthday cake with Katie in mind.

  17. I want you to make this for MY birthday in July! Michael loves a good white chocolate cake…

  18. Liz, this cake is PERFECTION! Not only do I love that it’s a one layer cake, but also- just look at that thick layer of buttercream on top!!! And these photos? WOW. Beautiful presentation and complete elegance with the red and white 😉

  19. What a gorgeous cake! I love the thick frosting which is no longer like a frosting but like a second, creamy delicious layer.

  20. WOW this looks fantastic! Beautiful and a great addition for any special occasion, now can I have a piece?

  21. Liz – this cake looks absolutely out of this world!!! Amazing!!! P.S.: Happy Birthday to Bill 🙂

  22. This cake is utterly beautiful my friend 😀

    Cheers
    CCU

  23. Look at that delicious mile high frosting on there. What a gorgeous cake for any occasion. Happy Birthday to Bill, lucky man!!

  24. That frosting not only looks insanely good, but it uses up leftover whites. So fantastic Liz! Now I can make ice cream and cake… So sweet that Bill chooses the bday cake so Katie will like it

  25. Absolutely gorgeous, love the white chocolate curls!

  26. I don’t love regular chocolate, so this looks like heaven to me. And the white chocolate curls are so very pretty! Thank you for sharing yet another delicious recipe. A good end to a great weekend. I hope you have a blessed week!

  27. Fun cake! And a great decorating job. The frosting (and cake!) looks terrific. You saved me a piece, yes? 😉 Good stuff – thanks.

  28. What a lovely birthday cake. It looks so pretty. I can tell it’s a dense cake and it must have been marvelous with that white chocolate frosting xx

  29. Oh, Liz..I’m a vanilla gal to the core..so this is a dream cake for me. I once ate half a vanilla cake with white chocolate frosting..in one sitting. BUT, yours is so beautiful, I would have to stare at it for a bit before digging in. Perfect white chocolate curls!

  30. What a truly stunning cake, Lizzy! I love the red on white…and that frosting – holy cow!

  31. What a mouth-watering, gorgeous dessert, Liz. The decoration is lovely.

  32. Such a pretty cake Liz. Looks like a great cake for any celebration!

  33. What a gorgeous cake, Liz! It looks moist too…

  34. Do you work for hire?

  35. The raspberries and chocolate curls are a great touch. So lovely.

  36. Exquisite…and no skimping on the frosting…we all love that! Katie has a thoughtful Dad! My husband’s birthday was the day after my daughter’s, and he’d always tease that he’d never get a cake of his own again (true…they had to share!)

  37. Sounds delicious! Anything adapted from the Ghiradelli cookbook must be amazing, I’m sure!

  38. Liz!! This looks phenomenal! And Ghiradelli? Sign me up, PS, my birthday is in June 😉

  39. This is simply stunning Liz. I just love the red against the white. So pretty. Happy Birthday to Mr Bill.

  40. You had me completely at white chocolate, you know… 🙂

  41. Thats a picture perfect cake Liz, and I’ll bet it tasted fantastic too!!!

    I’m hosting a giveaway on my blog and would love for you to be a part of it –
    http://www.myhobbielobbie.com/2013/04/a-few-of-my-favorite-things-and-giveaway.html

  42. What a stunning cake! White chocolate is a huge favorite of mine, and in buttercream, even better. And I love dense, moist, cakes and this cake of yours looks like the ticket!

  43. What a stunning cake! The white chocolate deco. looks so elegant.

  44. Liz, this beauty of a vanilla birthday cake certainly does look exquisite – I am sure that it got rave reviews form everyone who tried it – I just wish someone would for once bake me a birthday cake as pretty and fantastic as this, at least once!
    Have a lovely Monday!

  45. Great cake! It looks so white and light.. The decoration is just lovely 🙂

  46. Raspberries and white chocolate buttercream!! Scrumptious flavor combo.

  47. Happy Birthday to Bill! What a lucky guy to have you prepare his special b-day cake. I love how pretty it looks. Thanks for sharing Liz!:)

  48. That thick layer of buttercream looks amazing!

  49. This cake is so pretty! Love the flavors. 🙂

  50. I love the decoration and presentation of this cake — looks so beautiful! Have a wonderful week, Liz! 🙂

  51. This sounds great and all and I’m super excited to make it (!!), but I have to know, first and foremost, how do you spread your icing so perfectly??

  52. Impeccably decorated!!! You are a baking genius! =)

  53. looks beautiful and sounds delish!

  54. Your cake looks absolutely divine! Thanks so much for the white chocolate curls tutorial too, can’t wait to try this!

  55. I love how thick the icing looks on top. I bet this was amazing!

  56. Beautiful photos! I’m ready for a piece right now, please!

  57. I would have loved to have a slice of this. I guess the only solution is to make one. White chocolate seals the deal for me everytime.

  58. You have such a knack for making elegant desserts! This cake looks so good and I love all that frosting!

  59. This is a gorgeous cake!! I love white chocolate buttercream.

  60. I’ve seen this cake everywhere and I had to come to check it out. OH MY…. Stunning cake, Lizzy! The white chocolate curl garnish adds classy elegant factor. Beautiful job!

  61. I love a simple white cake. Great alternative to chocolate!

  62. Ummmm…my birthday is 4/27…just sayin. lol I love how thick the icing is on this cake, and your curls are def gorgeous! So jelaous of Bill! 🙂

  63. Marvelous, Lizzy!!! 😀 And that buttercream sounds divine! 🙂

    xoxo,
    Tammy<3

  64. this looks spectacular!! yum, yum

  65. Just slice me up a large hunk of this cake with a cold glass of milk… and I’m done. 🙂 Looks perfect. 🙂

  66. Oh wow that butter cream icing looks so decadent, I have to try it.

  67. Oh my Liz! If there are any naysayers about vanilla cake not being decadent, you will change their mind. That layer of buttercream is outstanding!

  68. OMGoodness, Liz! This cake is gorgeous! Give me a good white cake any day of the week…with that really thick buttercream even better!!! Thanks for linking to the chocolate curls, too! Darn, I try and try and can never do it!

  69. The picture had me. I’m a chocolate lover but this frosting looks sinful!

  70. Totally spectacular! I can see this on any shower table. Just so stunning.

  71. I always save desserts for last when I’m going through the Sunday Supper post and this week’s sweets don’t disappoint! This is gorgeous, Liz – I love those perfect chocolate curls. I’ve never made a good looking curl using any method so I’ll definitely have to try this. Every now and then, a good, dense cake is exactly what’s needed so I think this cake looks delicious, especially with that luscious, creamy frosting. Happy birthday to Bill!

  72. Can I put my order in now? My birthday is in September! It looks fabulous & I’m sure it was delicious!

  73. This looks delicious. A nice thick layer of frosting, my fave! Visiting today from Mop it up Monday.

  74. I love your pictures and recipes. I would like to invite you to come and join us and share your wonderful pictures with us. We are simply foodies and we are not photography snobs, so picture perfection is not important, all we care about is delicious food.

  75. Oh my! This cake is amazing! We saw it on I Should Be Mopping and came right over. Incredible. Please come by and visit us Tuesday + for Brag About It Link Party! Bye bye and best of days! ~Sharon and Denise @BeBetsy

  76. Liz,
    Your cake looks delicious. Your husband must have been thrilled with this cake.
    Annamaria

  77. Hi Liz,
    Just stopped by to say thanks for being a part of the YBR this month.:) I hope your husband and family are doing well. Hugs

  78. I came across your blog whilst trying to look for a similar recipe. My question is can you use meringue powder instead of egg whites for this recipe and what do you think about cream cheese as some other recipes on the web use that. Your feedback and advice is greatly appreciated. BDW beautiful cake!!!

    • I’ve only tried meringue powder in royal icing and I’m not sure it would give you the results you’re looking for. I think a cream cheese frosting with white chocolate would be a better bet. I have a recipe coming up on Thursday that uses that frosting flavor profile on a red velvet cake…it was delicious!

  79. Thank you so much for your help:)

  80. You always make me want to break my diet!

  81. It’s gorgeous:@)

  82. This cake recipe is quickly becoming a go-to for me. It is always a hit and the frosting is so delicious! I have made the cake with other frostings also and it always gets rave reviews!

  83. Talk about the perfect cake! This is so amazing, Liz, and my husband is going to go nut for that white chocolate frosting.

  84. if I don’t use the lemon juice in the cake, how will it effect the outcome? texture, flavor or both? thanks

    • Hi, Kris,

      The acid in the lemon juice helps activate the baking powder, so I’d guess the cake would be even denser than it is. If you have any other citrus like an orange or even some neutral vinegar (cider or white), I think you could use those instead. Flavorwise, it’s such a small amount that I don’t think you’d notice. Hope that helps!

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