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ISO: fabulous vanilla/white layer cake recipe

requested by my daughter for her birthday - with chocolate frosting. I've found vanilla layer cake recipes for yellow cake but she doesn't want yellow. I need white, very vanilla, moist, rich, not "angel/sponge" fluffy layer cake recipes. I considered buttermilk vanilla layer cakes - would this be a good way to go?

Also, none of those buttermilk recipes combine the cake with a chocolate frosting/icing and I'm wondering if that would just be a bad combination.

Recipes and thoughts on icing problem much appreciated.

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  1. I don't have a white cake recipe to recommend, but I will say that the vanilla buttermilk cake will be a fine match with chocolate frosting, no doubt about it.

    1. buttermilk cake is definitely one way to go to guarantee that it's moist, and don't worry about the frosting - chocolate & buttermilk is a wonderful combination.

      my other thought would be to make the White Velvet Cake from Rose Levy Berenbaum's"Cake Bible." you can rarely go wrong with her recipes, and i've heard it makes a truly wonderful white butter cake.

      here are a couple of links to the recipe...


      7 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        I've chosen to try this cake but have a couple of questions I hope you guys can answer quick:
        1. Can't get a hold of cake flour so, use equal amount of all purpose or do I use less?
        2. Recipe says to frost with anything but chocolate frosting. I'm doing a whipped chocolate ganache frosting from epicurious that's great. Any thoughts on why the recipe would advise against chocolate frosting?

        1. re: laylag

          You use 2 tbsp less flour per cup if you use all purpose but try to get bleached, if you can, to get closer to cake flour. You can also substitute corn starch for the flour you took out but I don't find a big difference with doing that.

          1. re: chowser

            Thanks chowser. I saw those instructions on the web, some said add corn starch too, some said weight it to specific ounces, etc. etc. and my head was going to explode. After over thinking I set out to more stores to hunt for cake flour. First stop: found self-rising cake flour so moved on. Second stop: no cake flour at all and then voila I scored some at store #3 Balducci's.

            I am ready to bake with my Swans Down cake flour tomorrow. Still not sure why the recipe specifically instructs not to ice with chocolate frosting but I'm doing it anyway. Only concern is the cake may be of finer crumb and a bit too close to angel food style which my daughter will like but not love and in that case the chocolate would be kind of heavy for it but I must stop obsessing on this. There'll be more birthdays to come and there's always another cake to bake.

            1. re: laylag

              ok, so i just checked RLB's website/message boards out of curiosity, and there are comments about the cake having a light, "melt-in-your-mouth" texture. i'm afraid it may be too light for your daughter's preferences! if you DO still decide to make it, she doesn't exactly *forbid* using a chocolate icing, she just recommends other lighter flavors to complement the cake...my guess is that the flavor of the cake itself is delicate, and rich chocolate might overwhelm it.

              actually, i hate to say this, but after having read that additional info, i'm not sure this is the right recipe for what your daughter likes. oy.

              do you have a buttermilk cake recipe that you like? i still say that's a great way to go, and a terrific pairing with chocolate. or you might want to take the advice of TrishUntrapped and Velda Mae and go with the King Arthur's Elegant White Cake suggested below.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                My go-to white cake is from Best Recipe and I think would go well w/ a lighter chocolate buttercream. Most white cakes will be made w/ whipped egg whites and be lighter than a traditional butter cake (comment not directed at ghg because you probably know but in light of what the OP wants).


                I was curious about the white cake combination with chocolate frosting and found this cake, similar to RLB's, with a milk chocolate frosting. You could leave out the lemon (which I wouldn't like with the chocolate).


                1. re: chowser

                  Thanks ghg and chowser, I saw those comments on the RLB recipe and thought the same but then thought that with a cup of butter, how light could it really be? I have a great buttermilk red velvet cake recipe and could have adapted that but wanted to try something new.

                  On the King Arthur's recipe, I was thinking about it but then later remembered seeing comments about it being too heavy. Now that I think about it again, and am rereading this thread, I think those comments may have been about the recipezaar recipe kchurchill recommended here.

                  I was googling like a mad women and looked at probably 20 different white cake recipes and read too many comments.

                  Anyway, her birthday is today, RLB cakes are cooling. Will post on results.

                  1. re: laylag

                    isn't it amazing how crazy we make ourselves over these things? :) i hope it works out - please do report back...and wish DD a Happy Birthday!

      2. I believe thar the cake part of the Strawberry Poke Cake recipe available free at www.cookscountrytv.com is a white cake. www.americastestkitchen.com has a free recipe for delicious milk chocolate buttercream frosting, callsed "foolproof chocolate frosting".

        1. This is one I use when I want a very moist and very vanilla cake. http://www.recipezaar.com/Deliciously.... It calls for a cup of buttermilk or milk, I use 1/2 of each. Gave me what I was looking for.

          This is another one I use when I want a very moist cake

          I don't follow recipes much for baking I do. I have another standard white cake recipe but I use it more when I am flavoring them or making lots of layers. It is more dense. But both these above I have linked and have tried both before and they are good.

          1. Thanks everyone. They all sound so good it's hard to pick which to try.

              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                I think King Arthur's white cake is the definitive white cake.

              2. Martha Stewart just appeared on the Today Show and made this "Versatile Vanilla Cake." I know the OP is all set at this point, but for anyone else who may be interested:

                1. I already posted this but it didn't appear so will do it again. Thanks to all for the help. The cake was very delicious - RLB recipe with a milk chocolate ganache frosting, nutella between the layers. My daughter (9yo) loved it. However, as many thought including RLB, the cake is light with fine crumb and frosting overpowered it somewhat and would have worked better with a buttermilk cake or similar.

                  On RLB's cake itself, it was a bit drier than I expected but that could be due to my oven (runs a bit hot and I lowered from 350 to 325 partway through), my dark cake pans (need to get light ones as these make me crazy), or overbaking perhaps by a minute of two. Interestingly, the slice I took off the dome to flatten the cake for frosting (I don't have cake strips) was very moist and buttery. Much more so than it was later.

                  Thanks again. And to GHG, I have no idea why we make ourselves so crazy like this. Perfectionism? Next time I must not overgoogle recipes and obsess. Of course, I say that now...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: laylag

                    My bad habit is overgoogling and obsessing and then either I 1) never actually get around to making it or 2) use the recipe in the Joy of Cooking on my bookshelf

                    1. re: laylag

                      great call on the Nutella - nice to know you're raising your daughter to develop a Chow-worthy palate ;) and i'm so glad to hear that she loved it - that's really all that matters, right?

                      re: the perfectionism, that's a whole other thread...

                      1. re: laylag

                        That sounds great. I'll bet your daughter loved the nutella. BTW, if you want something lighter for in between layers, try this Nutella mousse. It's part of a chocolate hazelnut souffle cake that's out of this world.

                        12 large egg yolks
                        ½ c. sugar
                        6 Tab. Frangelico
                        ½ butter, room temperature
                        4 oz. Bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
                        6 Tab. Nutella
                        1 c. chilled whipping cream

                        Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium saucepan to blend. Whisk in Frangelico. Add butter. Whisk gently over medium heat until mixture is thick, about 4 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Gently stir in Nutella. Transfer to large bowl; cool to room temperature. Beat cream in medium bowl until cream holds peaks; fold into chocolate mixture in 2 additions. Cover mousse and chill up to one day.

                        1. re: laylag

                          I'm sorry I missed your original post. I loved the way RLB's white cake turned out...velvet-y would be my descriptor of choice. Although light and delicate, it's not angel-food-ish in any way. I see how chocolate frosting would overpower the delicate cake a bit, but I just think that makes the whole thing even more decadent. RLB can be a little b!tchy ;-) I try not to let her get on my nerves because there are some gems in that book.

                          I don't have cake strips on purpose so I get to eat the dome!