The Best White Cake (Chiffon Cake) Recipe - White Russian Cake
Updated: Jul 30, 2019
Last night as I was making this cake recipe (for the second or third time), the smell wafting through my house as these cake layers were almost done in the oven was insane. And when I leveled the cakes and tasted the tops, my senses were overwhelmed. This is hands down the best white cake recipe I've ever had, and while it soaks up any liquid you want to add to it like a dream (as any good chiffon cake should), it's just simply delicious all by itself.
A chiffon cake is a cake recipe that uses oil as the fat instead of butter, and uses both a leavening agent (baking powder, in this case), and whipped egg whites to gift it that super lift and soft crumb. It's also perfect for soaking with your favorite alcohol, syrup, or flavored milk, because of the tender and fluffy crumb.
Here it's combined with Kahlua and a Whipped Cream Vodka American buttercream to make a White Russian cake. And be aware - this cake has a hefty dose of alcohol, and none of it gets baked off, so feed to children with discretion.
This cake is also infinitely adaptable - soak it and flavor the frosting with whatever different alcohol you desire! I just advised a friend who wanted to make a Whiskey Sour cake to soak it with Bourbon, and then make a Lemon frosting, adding more splashes of Bourbon as she desires.
MAKES one 9” 4-layer cake
CHIFFON CAKE LAYERS
14.5 ounces bleached cake flour (~3.5 cups + 3 Tablespoons)
8.75 ounces powdered sugar (~2 cups + 1 Tablespoon)
.5 ounces baking powder (~1 Tablespoon)
pinch of salt
6.75 ounces whole milk (3/4 cup + 1.5 Tablespoons)
6 ounces vegetable oil, or other unflavored oil (~3/4 cup + 1.5 Tablespoons)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
13 ounces egg whites (from ~10.5 eggs, or using the store-bought carton of egg whites is fine too, ~1.5 cups)
270 grams of sugar (1.25 cups + 1.5 Tablespoons)
Two 9” cake pans (with at least 2” high sides, ideally 3")
CAKE GOOP! and a silicone brush (or shortening to grease & flour to coat)
Stand mixer with two separate bowls, and beater and whisk attachments
Kitchen scale or measuring spoons/cups
Mixing or measuring bowl
Preheat your oven to 350° F and goop-up your cake pan(s).
With the beater attachment, mix on low until combined 14.5oz bleached cake flour, 8.75oz powdered sugar, .5oz baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, hand whisk 6.75oz whole milk, 6oz oil, 2 eggs, and 1tsp vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to your mixer bowl, and mix on low, then medium-high until it's combined to form a smooth batter - about 20-30 seconds.
Remove the beater blade & mixing bowl from the stand mixer.
Make sure your second stand mixer bowl is completely clean and free from any traces of fat.
Add 13oz egg whites and using the whisk attachment beat on medium-high until foamy.
Continue beating, adding in 270g of sugar a little bit at a time.
Increase speed to high, and beat until between soft and firm peaks.
In three additions, gently fold the beaten egg whites into your batter, taking care to incorporate them completely but gently so that you don't deflate the batter.
Distribute your batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, and bake for 25-35 minutes.
Your cake layers will dome up quite a bit - that's ok! You'll know they're done when the top has cracked a bit, and is no longer jiggly and is firm to the touch. Start checking them at 25 minutes when they'll likely still be very jiggly, and you'll then know what not jiggly means! After checking bake them for 2-3 more minutes before checking again, until they're done. (You can also insert a cake tester into the middle and make sure there's no wet batter on it.)
Let them cool on racks until you can handle the cake pans without oven mitts, then as needed use a very thin knife to separate the edges from the cake pan, turn out, and then turn right-side up again on a cooling rack.
Level each layer to remove the domed top, then split each layer in two.
WHIPPED CREAM VODKA FROSTING
**This recipe will likely make a bit more frosting than you need to fill & frost this cake, but you might use it if you're doing a bunch of additional decorations. If not, save the cake scraps from your level process, and put it in the mixer with some of the leftover frosting - mix until it's scoopable, scoop & freeze and you have cake truffles!**
8 sticks unsalted butter, make sure they're room temperature! If not, see Tip #7 here.
9 cups sifted powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-2 cups whipped cream flavored vodka (any brand is fine)
Stand mixer w. beater attachment
Beat 8 sticks butter on medium, then high, until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl half way through as needed.
Stop the mixer, and add about 1/4 of your powdered sugar, then start the mixer on the lowest setting until the sugar is combined enough that it won't fly everywhere as you increase the speed. Increase the speed gradually to high, and beat for about 1 minute until fully combined.
Repeat that process until you've added all of your sugar, then add a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup heavy cream, again starting the mixer on low so it doesn't splash everywhere, and ending by beating on high for 1 minute until fully combined.
Add 1/2 cup of whipped cream flavored vodka, and start slow then mix on high for 2 minutes until fully incorporated and fluffy. Repeat with another 1/2 cup of vodka. At this point taste the frosting - do you think it needs more vodka? Go for it! Add more a couple Tablespoons at a time and mix on high, tasting after each addition, until you get to your desired saturation with the flavor. I used probably around 1.25 cups for 6 sticks of butter, so it's possible you might want up to 2 cups for this recipe with 8 sticks.
NOTE: Typically you can make buttercream in advance and freeze it until use, or freeze any leftovers. I don't recommend freezing this recipe, as alcohol doesn't freeze, and I imagine it's possible it could separate and/or not re-mix well once at room temperature.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!
1-1.5 cups of Kahlua
Cake board or carrier base
Piping bags/tips and decorations as desired
Brush each cake layer evenly with about 1/4 cup or a little more of Kahlua.
Add a dollop of frosting to the middle of your cake board/plate and spread a bit to use as a glue for your bottom cake layer.
Place one of the two layers that came from the bottom part of the cake pan (so it has a solid bottom and not a bottom exposed of the middle of the cake) on your cake board and press down very gently to secure it.
Evenly spread a layer of whipped cream frosting about 1/2" thick on top of the cake layer.
Place a cake layer with crumb exposed on both sides on top, then repeat spreading a layer of frosting.
Do that again.
Top with the final cake layer, which should have one exposed side and one solid side.
Place in the fridge for 15 minutes so the frosting can solidify a bit, and the layers won't move around much when you add frosting to the top/sides.
Crumb coat the cake, then return to the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. Don’t know what that means? Check it!
Coat the whole cake with a thick layer of frosting, and decorate as desired!
The cake will keep up to 48 hours in *cool* room temperature conditions, up to 5 days in a covered container in the fridge. I wouldn't suggest freezing this cake because of the amount of alcohol in the frosting.