It’s an age old problem. How to get a moist white cake. You try recipe after recipe and either they taste like cornbread, the texture isn’t good, or it just isn’t moist enough. So, you end up just going for a box when you really wanted to make something with that ‘scratch wedding cake taste’.
You may have seen my Favorite Vanilla Bean Cake recipe on the blog. If not, go and check it out…it’s so moist and really tasty. It’s my favorite, hence the name, but I wanted to see if I could get a truly ‘white’ cake and I wanted to get that wedding cake flavor.
Well I think I’ve done it. This cake is actually a white cake that is actually moist, AND it’s got that wedding cake taste.
So, when trying to get a cake as white as possible, I wanted to use only egg whites. Generally, using only egg whites can tend to dry out a cake a bit, so you have to add a bit more moisture.
Now, I like a buttery taste to my cake, but in the effort to try and get a ‘whiter’ cake, I lessened the amount of butter and substituted the rest with shortening. If you want an all butter cake recipe (using no shortening), you’ll want to check out my vanilla cake recipe.
Another thing to note is that you can use either all purpose flour or cake flour for this recipe. The amounts will differ and that’s noted on the printable recipe below.
Here’s the deal though: Using cake flour will give you a whiter cake. I’m not a scientist or anything, but I think it’s because the cake flour seems to be more bleached than the all purpose. I could be wrong, but regardless, you’ll get a whiter cake using cake flour.
Now let’s talk about the flavoring that’s added in. Of course it’s optional for you, but I think it really takes it to the next level.
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First it’s the vanilla. You can always use clear extract to make sure it’s not adding any additional color to the batter, but I tend to use regular vanilla because honestly, it’s just better. If you can get it, try to use vanilla paste/emulsion.
Second, I added in my favorite flavor booster…almond emulsion. You’re using just a touch of it, so you won’t really get an ‘almond taste’. It just adds to the flavor. Seriously most people won’t even know you’ve added it in there…they’ll just know it tastes amazing.
Ok, if you just can’t stand the thought of adding it, or you don’t have any handy, then don’t worry, it’ll still taste good. Oh and the emulsion is much better than the extract. The extract just does not taste good to me.
Lastly I added in a bit of butter flavoring. Since I’d replaced some of the butter with shortening, I wanted to add back in some flavor. Now, that part is optional, but it really seems to give it that wedding cake flavor.
The butter flavoring you can get at the grocery store is gross to me…now that’s just my opinion. I feel like Lorann’s Butter Emulsion tastes much better.
You’ll also want to check out my vanilla bean buttercream recipe…it goes perfectly with this cake, but if you’re looking for a bright white buttercream, you’ll want to check out that recipe here: Bright White Heat Stable Buttercream.
FAQs for baking the Moist White Cake:
Can I substitute the baking soda or baking powder? No, you don’t want to do that.
What is shortening? It’s basically just fat. I use vegetable shortening like Crisco, not lard which is animal fat. This helps get the cake moist and I use this in place of most of the butter to keep the color as white as possible.
Why are you still adding in butter if you’re using the shortening? Because I like the taste of butter. You just can’t beat butter in a cake.
Can I microwave my butter to get it to room temperature? I don’t recommend doing that. It could get too warm and will heat up unevenly. That could mess with the texture of your cake. Just set the butter out on your counter and let it warm up to almost room temp. It’s ok if it’s a little cooler than room temp…you just don’t want it warm.
Can I just use milk instead of sour cream? You can, but the cake won’t be as moist and the texture and taste may be a little different than the original recipe.
I don’t have clear vanilla extract. Is that necessary? No not really. Actually regular vanilla extract or vanilla bean emulsion (or paste) tastes better, but clear will help keep the cake white if that’s really an important factor for you.
Do I have to use the almond emulsion? No. Some people just don’t like almond taste, but I will tell you that if you haven’t tried it, you might actually like the small hint of it. A lot of people assume they won’t like it, but honestly I think it tastes different than what most people think it would taste like. And you’ll just be adding a touch of it, just enough to add a little flavor.
Do I have to add in the butter extract? No, but I think it adds a little more butter flavor and that in combination with the vanilla and almond emulsion are what gives it that classic wedding cake taste.
Where can I get butter extract, almond emulsion and vanilla emulsion? I’ve got links just below the recipe card for the ones that I like to use.
Anymore questions? Just let me know. I’m happy to help.
Ok, I won’t talk your head off anymore…let’s get straight to the recipe!
Moist White Cake
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 3/4 cups cake flour – for an even whiter cake)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 1/4 cup butter (unsalted, room temp.)
- 1 cup sour cream (full fat)
- 1/2 cup milk (whole milk if you can get it)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (can use clear extract)
- 1/2 tsp almond emulsion (optional)
- 1 tsp butter extract (optional)
- 6 egg whites (large eggs)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease and flour two 8 inch round (2 inch deep) cake pans. You could also use three 6 inch round pans.
- In a bowl, mix together the sour cream, milk, vanilla extract, almond emulsion, butter extract and egg whites.Whisk until smooth and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.Whisk together.
- Add the shortening and butter in chunks to the flour mixture.
- Mix until the flour is coated with the shortening and butter. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Add in half the liquid mixture and mix just until combined.
- Add in the last half of the liquid mixture and mix just until combined.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix again, only for 10-15 seconds.You want to be careful not to over-beat the batter.
- Pour into the greased and floured cake pans and bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack then cover with buttercream.