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White Butter Cake

This versatile cake (shown at the very top) is best baked the day before it will be served (wrap well and refrigerate). To add moisture and flavor, brush the layers with simple syrup.For approximate batter amounts and baking times for different tier sizes, see below; you will need to make enough batter to fill each cake pan three-quarters full (most wedding cakes are made with two cake layers for each tier). The batter can be made in separate batches for the larger cake layers.

  • yield: Makes 6 cups batter


  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature

Cook's Note

Approximate batter amounts and baking times for 3-inch-deep round pans: 6-inch layer: 3 cups batter, 30 minutes; 8-inch: 5 cups, 40 minutes; 10-inch: 8 cups, 1 hour 5 minutes; 12-inch: 11 cups, 1 hour 15 minutes.


  1. Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the cake pans with butter (see below for pan sizes and batter amounts). Line with parchment paper; butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Set aside.

  2. Step 2

    Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir the milk and vanilla to combine; set aside. Beat the butter in a mixer bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar in a steady stream; mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

  3. Step 3

    Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture, and beginning and ending with the flour; mix just until combined.

  4. Step 4

    In a clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites just until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining whites in two batches. Divide the batter among the prepared pans; smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Firmly tap the pans on a work surface to release any air bubbles.

  5. Step 5

    Bake until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean and the tops are springy to the touch (see below for baking times). Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks. Remove the parchment; reinvert and cool completely.

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2004

Reviews (2)

  • 7 Mar, 2009

    Cake flour is your best bet, but you can try this substitution: 1 cup all purpose flour MINUS 2 tablespoons of flour PLUS 2 tablespoons cornstarch EQUALS 1 cup cake flour. I used to never have cake flour on hand, but so many recipes I find seem to call for it that it has become a staple.

  • 12 Feb, 2009

    can you use all propuse bleached flour instead of cake flour?