White Butter Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


    8-x-1½ inch round cakes

Appears in

This cake, frosted with Maple Italian Meringue, makes a magnificent wedding cake.

Its buttery flavor and velvety texture combine well with any type of frosting or butter-cream. Chocolate is an especially good match here. For example, fill the cake with strawberry jam and frost the top and sides with Chocolate Sabayon Buttercream. The only hint that you are eating a butter cake made completely with egg whites rather than whole eggs or egg yolks is its snowy white color. The batter is thick enough to have glazed or dried fruits folded into it; or even chopped nuts or tiny chunks of chocolate.


  • cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature, plus 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cups (300 grams) granulated sugar

Baking Equipment

Two heavy-gauge straight-sided 8-inch cake pans


Baking Preparations

Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a paper towel, grease the bottom and sides of the pans with solid shortening. Dust generously with all-purpose flour, shake to distribute, tap out excess and place 8-inch rounds of parchment or waxed paper on the bottom of the pans.

Ingredient Preparations

Pour the flour, baking powder and salt in that order into a triple sifter. Sift onto waxed paper and set aside.

Place 2 egg whites in a small mixing bowl, and whisk briefly, just enough to break up their structure so they will pour easily.

Place the remaining 3 egg whites in a -quart mixing bowl. Set the 1 teaspoon sugar for whipping the whites nearby.

Pour the milk into a liquid cup measure, add the vanilla and stir just to combine.

Place the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer.

Making the Cake

With the flat beater (paddle), cream the butter on medium speed (#5) until it is lighter in both color and texture (about 30 seconds).

Maintaining the same speed, add the cups sugar in a steady stream. When all the sugar is added, stop the machine and scrape the mixture clinging to the sides into the center of the bowl. Continue to cream at the same speed until the mixture is almost white and appears fluffy (about 4 to 5 minutes).

With the mixer still on medium speed, pour in the 2 egg whites, very cautiously at first, tablespoon by tablespoon, as if you were adding oil when making mayonnaise.

If at any time the mixture appears watery or shiny, stop the flow of whites and increase the speed until a smooth, silken appearance returns. Then decrease the speed to medium again and resume adding the whites.

Continue to cream, for about 3 more minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl at least once. When the mixture resembles whipped cream cheese and has increased in volume, detach the beater and bowl. Tap the beater against the edge of the bowl to free the excess.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in one-fourth of the flour mixture. Then add one-third of the vanilla-flavored milk, stirring to blend together. Repeat the procedure, alternating dry and liquid ingredients, ending with the flour. With each addition, scrape the sides of the bowl, and continue mixing until smooth.

Whip the remaining 3 whites with an electric hand mixer on low speed until small bubbles appear (about 30 to 45 seconds). Then increase the speed (#10), and add the 1 teaspoon of sugar. Whip until stiffer, shiny white peaks form (about 45 to 60 seconds more). When you judge whether you have finished the whipping process, keep in mind that the whites are going to be folded into the batter. It is therefore better to underwhip than to overwhip. If the whites are too stiff, folding them in becomes much more difficult and in the process you may overwork the batter, deflating some of the volume that is so essential to the cake’s tender texture.

Using a rubber spatula, fold half the whipped whites into the batter. With a wire whisk, whisk the remaining whites in the bowl just to unite them again and tighten them. Fold into batter just until incorporated.

Baking the Cake

Using a large kitchen serving spoon, spoon equal amounts of batter into each pan. (If you want to make sure you have equal layers after all the batter has been divided, weigh each pan on your scale to check for equal distribution.) Then, with a rubber spatula, working from the center, spread the batter outward, creating a slightly raised ridge around the outside rim.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the surface springs back slightly when it is touched lightly in the center and the sides begin to contract from the pan.

Cooling the Cake

Place the pans on racks to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. With mitts, tilt and rotate each pan, gently tapping it on the counter to see if each layer is released from the sides. If not, or if in doubt, run a small metal spatula or the thin blade of a table knife between the layer’s outer edge and the metal rim, freeing the sides and allowing air to get under the layer as it is rotated.

Cover a layer with a cooling rack, invert it onto the rack and carefully lift pan to remove. Slowly peel off the parchment liner; turn the paper over so that the sticky top side faces up; then reposition it on top of the layer. Cover with another rack, invert the layer right side up and remove the original rack. Repeat with the other layer. Then allow both to cool completely.

Storing the Cake

If you don’t plan to use the cake within 24 hours, wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

To freeze, cover the plastic-wrapped layers with foil. Label each package, indicating the contents and date. Freeze for no more than 2 weeks.