The Very Best White Cake

I love to look through old cookbooks and magazine clippings of recipes; one of my favorite possessions is the cookbook my Grandma left me. It’s a hardcover notebook with a red cover and inside is a collection of handwritten recipes and clippings from Good Housekeeping or the local newspaper. Some of the recipes are named after the women who made it, like “Betty’s Date Square’s” or “Dorothy’s Cinnamon Buns”; Dorothy was my Grandma, my Grandpa called her “Dot” and she made amazing cinnamon buns.

I have a genuine respect for women who could cook and bake so well with so little access to information the way we have now, their recipes came from trial and error or talking to each other about what worked and what didn’t. There are so many great tips and tricks out there that we no longer use today, like using lemon juice to soften bread dough, or tomato soup to keep a cake batter moist (sounds weird but it’s delicious).

This recipe for white cake came from a tip I got from my mom when I was very little. I would often ask my mom to buy me a cake mix at the store and I would try to make a fancy layer cake just like a real baker. I remember being disappointed that the cake texture was not like the bakery so my mom told me to add some mayonnaise to the batter. I thought she was off her rocker for sure but she insisted that it would work; sure enough, it created the most moist and fluffy cake I had ever made.

I use the mayonnaise trick in batter like this one where I want the cake to remain moist and delicious but I still need it to have some structure  so I can layer it or make a good sturdy cupcake. It has a lot of flavor and has a density that will stand up to decoration or layering but it’s not dry.


All ingredients should be room temperature for best results

The Very Best White Cake

Make 18 Cupcakes or 3 (9″) Layers

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup Oil canola or vegetable

2 Tbsp. mayonaise, full fat

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract, pure

3 cups all purpose flour

3 Tsp. baking powder

1 Tsp baking soda

1/2 Tsp kosher or sea salt

4 eggs, large (room temp)

1 cup buttermilk* (room temp)

Line cupcake pan with paper liners or prepare cake pans with pan release.** Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter, oil and mayonnaise together, add sugar and beat until fluffy, approx. 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating in between. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and whisk together to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add half the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Add buttermilk and mix, add the remaining flour and mix to combine Continue to mix for one minute on medium speed to build structure.

Portion batter into cupcake liners or cake pans and tap on the counter to remove air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 18-25 minutes for cupcakes and 25-30 minutes for cakes.

Simple Syrup

1/2 cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 cup Boiling Water

Dissolve sugar into water.

Brush cupcakes with simple syrup, this will keep the surface of the cupcake moist so there is no crust.

*To make your own buttermilk for this recipe, combine 1 cup milk and 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.

**Pan Release

1/4 Cup Vegetable Shortening

1/4 Cup Butter

1/4 Cup AP flour

Mix all ingredients together until its a smooth paste. Use a pastry brush or clean fingers to spread all over loaf pans. Can be used for any baking pan.

To Make the Cupcakes in the picture see also:

Easy Vanilla Buttercream



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Leslie Nichole says:

    You can’t beat those older cookbooks! I have a few my grandma left me and I cherish them. These are almost too pretty to eat!


    1. Chef Kari says:

      Hi Leslie, that’s so nice of you. They are very easy to make and the cherry filling can be substituted with any flavour you like. Add Apple filing and then a bit of cinnamon to the frosting in the fall. It sounds like we both love old cookbooks, they are a wonderful treasure to have.


  2. Jill Hermanson says:

    I love the video that will really help with the technique when I make them!


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