The perfect celebration cake! Three layers of soft white cake covered in a silky buttercream frosting flavored with vanilla and a hint of fresh lemon. Options to add raspberry jam filling and garnish with fresh raspberries and shredded coconut.
This recipe has been a long time coming. I started making this cake 6? 7? years ago. I was originally inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s “Perfect Party Cake” from one of my favorite cookbooks, Baking From My Home To Yours. Over the years I’ve changed the recipe to make it a bit easier, but kept the flavor profile the same. We enjoy this cake every spring for my mom’s birthday. It’s a beautiful and delicious cake for holidays, birthdays, and celebrations.
This cake is
- Soft and tender
- Three layers
- Flavored with vanilla and lemon
- Covered in a delicious buttercream frosting
- Filled with raspberry jam
- Made with basic ingredients
- Perfect for parties and celebrations
This cake is based off our favorite Vanilla Cake Recipe. It comes together quickly and easily and bakes up soft and tender.
- Beat sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.
- Add sour cream.
- Beat in dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt).
Divide the batter between three 8-inch cake pans and bake.
Beat butter and powdered sugar. Add vanilla extract, lemon zest, and milk. Beat until fluffy and smooth.
Frost the cake and add jam on top of the middle and bottom layers. Frost the outside of the cake and garnish with shredded coconut and fresh raspberries (or another berry of your choice).
Line the cake pans with parchment paper to ensure the cakes will slide out easily. I use precut parchment rounds from Amazon.
After adding the cake batter to the pans tap them on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles.
To quickly bring eggs and milk to room temperature place the four eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for about 5 minutes. Microwave the milk to take the chill off, about 15 seconds.
Use your favorite flavor of jam (or lemon curd) for the filling.
After assembling the cake layers with frosting and jam you can place the cake in the freezer for about 10 minutes before proceeding with frosting the outside. This helps the jam and frosting to firm up so that the cake layers don’t slide around while you’re trying to spread the remaining frosting.
If you’re looking for a basic white cake you can omit the raspberry jam filling as well as the coconut and raspberry garnishes.
Looking for something a little different? Swap the jam and fresh fruit for a different berry. Blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries would all be great.
Love lemon? Use lemon curd in place of the raspberry jam. Garnish the top of the cake with sliced lemon and double the lemon zest in the cake portion of the recipe.
White Cake Recipe
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour*
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 generous teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- ⅔ cup full fat sour cream
- ¾ cup milk , preferably whole or 2%, room temperature
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened, but still cool to the touch
- 6-7 cups powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy, plus more, if needed
- 2+ tablespoons milk
- 2½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, or more, to taste
- ½ cup raspberry jam, optional
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, optional garnish
- fresh raspberries, optional garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease the pans. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (preferred) or a hand mixer, beat sugar, oil, eggs, egg whites, vanilla, and lemon zest until combined. Add the sour cream and beat until combined. Add half of the flour mixture, beating until just combined. While still beating, slowly add milk, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Be careful not to overmix it.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Tap/gently drop the pan on the countertop a couple times to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If necessary, rotate the pans once during bake time to ensure even browning. Place the pans on wire racks to cool completely.
- Using a hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and half of the powdered sugar until well-combined (starting out the mixer low and increasing to medium-high). Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar, followed by vanilla, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons milk.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat well for 1-2 minutes. If necessary, add more milk to thin it out or more powdered sugar to thicken. Taste the frosting and add more lemon zest, if desired.
- Place one layer of cake on a serving plate. Top with approximately ½ cup of frosting, spreading into an even layer. Top with 3-4 tablespoons raspberry jam, spreading into an even layer. Don't spread the jam too close to the edges of the cake, you don't want it to squeeze out, leave about a 1-inch border. Repeat with the second cake layer, topping it with frosting and jam. Add the third cake layer. At this point you can proceed with frosting the top and sides of the whole cake OR you can place the cake into the freezer for 10 minutes. This helps the jam and frosting to firm up so that the cake layers don't slide around while you're trying to spread the remaining frosting.
- Once you have frosted the sides and top of the cake, press shredded coconut onto the sides (if desired). I decorate the top of the cake with swirls of frosting (using a large open star tip) and fresh raspberries. You can decorate it however you like. Place the cake in the refrigerator until the frosting has firmed up. Allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Nutritional Information is an estimate based on third-party calculations and may vary based on products used and serving sizes.