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Slice of white birthday cake on a white dessert plate with a red handled fork

The Perfect White Birthday Cake Recipe

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This sweet, tight crumb Perfect White Birthday Cake will rival any bakery cake! It’s the most delicious layer cake I’ve made in years!

With a fine crumb, sweet and tender texture and a lovely vanilla bean buttercream, this white layer cake is perfect for birthdays, dinner parties or any celebration!

White Birthday Cake slice on a white plate with a red handle fork

The Perfect White Birthday Cake Recipe

Bill’s birthday was two days after Easter, so despite the half-eaten Tunnel of Mousse Cake in the fridge, he expected a birthday cake. A new birthday cake, not the Easter leftovers with candles. His first suggestion was white cake with white icing, knowing that the picky daughter (wonder where she picked up that trait??) would enjoy it, too.

I headed to the blog of my friend, Amanda, knowing the cake baker extraordinaire of I am Baker fame, would have an exquisite white cake recipe. And that it was. This Confetti Cake is another wonderful celebratory cake!

White Birthday Cake topped with white chocolate curls on a cake stand

Tips for Making an Exquisite White Layer Cake

This basic recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated, and I followed Amanda’s explicit instructions and a truly heavenly cake was the result. Frosted with a vanilla bean buttercream, I must say this rivals any chocolate number I’ve made of late.

  • As with all recipes, read through the details once or twice before starting. Double check that you have all the ingredients, and any ingredients that need to be brought out of the refrigerator can be set on the counter.
  • In this recipe, the egg whites, milk and butter need to be at room temperature. Note that eggs separate best when they are cold, and less fragile, but beat best when at room temperature. The whites are not whipped separately in this recipe, but will incorporate best when not chilled.
  • Alternating wet and dry ingredients allows the fats to envelop the flour, which contains gluten. Gluten is what you want to encourage in bread recipes to give structure, but discourage when you want a tender crumb, like in this cake.
  • Note that you don’t need to beat the cake batter for a long period of time. Too much beating will make a lighter, air-filled batter that won’t have the perfect crumb.
  • I like to weigh out equal amounts of batter for each cake pan. That way, the layers will be the same size and bake up in the same amount of time.
  • Use a toothpick to check if your cakes are done. All ovens bake a little differently, so baking times are just a guideline. The toothpick should come out clean when the cake is fully baked.

The crumb was perfect and that leftover chocolate mousse cake was ignored (and it was darned tasty, too). The birthday boy got his wish. And Miss Katie was on cloud nine, too. This White Birthday Cake was a huge hit. From now on, this will be my go-to white cake recipe.

White birthday cake slice on a white plate over a floral napkin

More Recipes You’ll Love:

The Best Yellow Birthday Cake with Chocolate Icing from Noble Pig is another classic birthday cake, but you might want to veer from the expected and try this Momofuku Birthday Cake from Brown Eyed Baker. Or for a fun alternative and bake up some Birthday Cake Mix Cookies from Crunchy Creamy Sweet.

My family loves this Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake and for MY birthday, I’d be thrilled with this Italian Cream Cake

For more fabulous cake recipes, check out my Delicious Cakes and Cupcakes Pinterest Board and the Cake Tab of my Recipe Index.White Birthday Cake | An exquisite white cake with vanilla bean buttercream


White Birthday Cake

White Birthday Cake

This sweet, tight crumb Perfect White Birthday Cake will rival any bakery cake!

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield 12 servings


For cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature but still cool

For Buttercream:

  • 1 1/4 cups butter (2 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (10 ounces)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans.
  2. Make sure milk and eggs are room temperature.
  3. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of 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 flour mixture and beat at medium speed for a couple minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for about 1 minute.
  6. Pour batter evenly between two prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 27 to 30 minutes.
  8. Allow cake to cool to room temperature.
  9. To make buttercream, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds using a standing mixer with the whisk attachment. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
  10. Add powdered sugar and salt; beat at medium speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about a minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incorporated, less than a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl at least once at the halfway mark.
  11. Frost cooled cakes.


Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 598Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 589mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 0gSugar: 52gProtein: 5g


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58 comments on “The Perfect White Birthday Cake Recipe”

  1. You’re absoutely right, that crumb looks almost creamy. I can’t wait to make this and I might have to find someone with a birthday. 🙂

  2. That vanilla bean frosting looks great! I would have enjoyed this cake too:@)

  3. This cake looks simply perfect! Would love a slice 🙂

  4. Totally bookmarking this! I have been on the search for the perfect birthday cake recipe…. I need to try this soon (birthday not required) LOL! 🙂

  5. Liz – This cake is so elegant and would even make a beautiful wedding shower dessert. The flowered tablecloth is gorgeous.

  6. I have been on the hunt for a perfect white cake from scratch for years! I am really looking forward to making this and if it looks half as good as yours I will be a happy camper. It looks delicious and glad to know that the birthday boy enjoyed it.

  7. Too bad I baked the farmer’s birthday cake on the weekend or I would have made this one for him! He would have loved this one! Today is his big 6-5 we can hardly believe how the years have passed so quickly. I must go over to “I Am Baker” to check out her blog!

  8. Vanilla bean buttercream…swoon!!

  9. Liz, you can’t go wrong with Cook’s Illustrated or I Am Baker!!! love Amanda’s blog. . hope Bill had a lovely birthday and by the looks of this cake, he must have had a fabulous one! love!

  10. Oh my gosh, it’s perfect! I wish my cakes turned out like this, I’d probably like to bake cakes more! I’m going to give this recipe a try!

  11. I love how smooth and fine the crumb is and not to mention the cake looks so dreamy and beautiful.

  12. Too bad I stopped having Birthdays! I’ll just have to find another sweet excuse. GREG

  13. Bill is a lucky man! I would like the same for my birthday!

  14. Happy birthday to Bill! This cake looks absolutely perfect, Liz! Amanda’s cakes are amazing. Love the vanilla bean icing – so gorgeous!

  15. Oh my word! That is totally fantabulous, Liz! Love it and definitely pinning for making soon!

  16. Congrats on making the most basic cake sound awesome. I actually have to soon make like 30 cupcakes and one small cake…may give this recipe a try.

  17. I’ll be over shortly. 🙂

    How did you get the cake to look so perfect? It’s beautiful! My cakes never turn out like that. Will have to give yours a go.

  18. I’ve made her cake as well and have to agree it’s wonderful. Most of us in my home are chocolate fans but this cake is outstanding and yours looks perfect! I love the white chocolate curls on top.

  19. Looks like a love birthday cake. Sounds delicious.

  20. Liz, this is a beauty! Fresh vanilla beans too? I could jump through the screen! Pinning and making this soon!

  21. It’s a relief to know Bill liked his birthday cake. This cake is so perfect looking. What perfect layers. It reminds me of the slices of cake you see pictured on packet cake boxes (I don’t mean that to sound insulting, it’s meant to be a compliment – I know you’re much better than a packet cake baker!) But that slice of cake looks amazing xx

  22. So gorgeous and that vanilla buttercream looks heavenly! We have several family birthdays in May and now I think this cake is exactly what I need to bake!

  23. I am more to the chocolate side, but my husband would absolutely love this cake! It sure looks tasty and elegant Liz!

  24. This is looking gorgeous. Love it, it is so simple and elegant.

  25. This is one of the most elegant cake I’ve seen in a long time! Absolutely beautiful 🙂

  26. It looks absolutely perfect! I love white cake, and the vanilla buttercream sounds so good with it. I wish I had a birthday to bake for today.

  27. There’s nothing better than a perfect white cake, a challenge to accomplish, but you’ve clearly done it. Not that I’m surprised … You are such a talented baker.

  28. It looks fabulous! I’m sure even better than a bakery cake.

  29. Omigosh this cake is beautiful!! I love the texture and the vanilla flecks in the frosting. mmmmm

  30. Lizzy,
    The cake looks picture perfect. I wish my cakes looked so elegant. I can’t believe the Tunnel of Mousse cake was ignored.

  31. This Ninja Baker would be on Cloud Nine with a slice of this birthday cake, too! Thank you for another keeper recipe =)

  32. Wow – you’ve definitely sold me on this cake! It sounds wonderful.

  33. How perfectly gorgeous! Hope your hubby had a lovely birthday.

  34. Hello Liz
    I baked this yummy cake this morning and while it baked it sunk in the middle… I used all fresh ingredients. Maybe the butter was not cool enough? Can you help me? Thank-you!

    • Hi, Elizabeth, I’m thinking your cake wasn’t thoroughly baked. All ovens differ and yours may have needed more time. Did you test with a toothpick? Sometimes I also tap the middle with my finger to see whether it bounces back up (if the indentation stays, it’s still not done in the middle). And if you open and shut the oven too much to check, the oven temp will go down, too, which means you’ll need to bake it longer (I’ve experienced this myself when doing lots of checking on a cake). If everything else was fresh, this is my best guess! Hope that helps!

  35. I would love a piece of this!

  36. Excellent recipe!

  37. Made this cake for my daughter in law for her birthday. Very easy to make and delicious!

  38. Awesome! I baked this white cake for a 13th
    birthday party. @ the birthday girl request she loves white cake. It was not disappointing at all, it was super moist and delicious. This is definitely my go to recipe 

  39. can i use buttermilk instead of regular milk for this recipe?

  40. I love white cake- and this recipe looks amazing!! Will definitely try this!

  41. This is such a beautiful birthday cake! Well done Liz!

  42. Those chocolate curls!! What a gorgeous cake.

  43. To me there is nothing better than a classic vanilla cake! The flecks of vanilla bean in that frosting just let you know you’re in for a treat and those chocolate curls on top are the perfect accent!

  44. My favorite white cake ever!!

  45. This looks and tastes super professional!!

  46. I request this for my birthday every year! It’s my favorite.

  47. It was a huge hit with my kids! It was SO good!

  48. I love white cake, and this recipe is perfect!

  49. The recipe disappeared in the middle of me making this. HELP!!!

  50. Oh thank you so much for quickly doing that! This is THE VERY BEST WHITE CAKE RECIPE EVER!!!!!! We absolutely love this recipe! YOU’RE THE BEST!!!

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