Last Updated on February 22, 2023
What is the difference between white and yellow cake? We'll take a look at how the ingredients and mixing methods ultimately create different cakes!
The Difference Between White and Yellow Cake: What We Should Look at
This is one of the most confusing and most-asked questions we get: What is the difference between white and yellow cake? The answer is very simple. But, when you take a more in-depth look, there is actually a lot more to it!
So, to better understand the difference between the two types of cakes, there are a couple of factors you can look at.
The first is the difference in their ingredients. The second is how they are made.
The ingredients used directly affect (and change) how a cake should be made. For example, a cake made with butter usually has to use creamed beaten butter. But, a cake made with oil can be mixed in with the other wet ingredients.
Then, naturally, we will compare the flavor and texture changes between them. This is something that just changes as the ingredients change.
What is yellow cake?
Yellow cake is a type of vanilla-flavored cake. It is made from basic cake ingredients such as butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, a leavening agent, and milk. Naturally, there are substitutions for each of these ingredients, but you get the idea.
The ingredients are usually in a sponge or pound cake ratio. However, with so many different recipes around, there are a million ways to ultimately create a yellow cake.
So, what exactly makes it unique? Or different from white cake?
That comes down to the eggs.
A yellow cake contains whole eggs (both egg white and yolk). This is where the yellow crumb color comes from. Some recipes even add more egg yolks to further enrich the color!
Because yolks are included in the recipe, some other changes occur. Usually, with yellow cake recipes, you will see it call for bleached all-purpose flour and more vanilla extract.
The egg yolks help enrich the cake, give it a darker golden color, and add some flavor. It also adds more nutritional value and moisture.
What is white cake?
White cake is also a vanilla-flavored cake. However, it is only made with egg whites and doesn't contain any egg yolks at all! And, for the odd one or two recipes that do, it would only be a single yolk.
Now, because this cake only contains egg whites, it has a snow-white color. It doesn't get as dark as a yellow cake.
Another thing that makes this cake unique is how the egg whites are incorporated. You do get recipes that simply mix them in with the butter.
However, more often than not, the egg whites are whipped and folded in. This creates an uber-fluffy and soft cake crumb.
A white cake also often contains corn starch, less vanilla, and occasionally white shortening. However, many recipes will call for unsalted butter.
What is The Difference Between White and Yellow Cake?
So, let's break it down step by step.
When it comes to the ingredients used, the main difference is the type of egg. A white cake only uses egg whites (beaten or whipped). A yellow cake uses whole eggs or mainly egg yolks. Both types of cake recipes will still use large eggs unless otherwise called for. It's a global culinary rule.
The types of eggs used for the recipes affect some other ingredients. A yellow cake contains more vanilla because it's harder to overpower the richness of the egg yolk.
Butter is also more frequently used for yellow cake. And white margarine or shortening is used for a white cake to help maintain the white color.
Bleached all-purpose flour is usually used for yellow cake, but many other options exist. A white cake would also use some type of bleached flour. It should be pastry or cake flour.
In addition, you will also see cornstarch in many white cake recipes. This combination creates a fluffier softer texture.
Then, the way each of these is made can differ. A yellow cake uses the standard creaming cake mixing method. Cream the butter and sugar, add the whole eggs and flavoring, then the flour and milk. While there are many alternative options, that's a basic universal method for most yellow cakes.
White cakes are often made similarly to yellow cakes but the methods can vary. Some recipes do use the creaming method but most use the egg-foaming method. The egg whites are beaten and folded into the cake batter to create an uber-light and airy cake.
So, we have answered, "What is the difference between white and yellow cake?" Let's look at some other common questions.
White cake flavor vs yellow cake flavor
Both white cakes and yellow cakes have a vanilla flavor to them. Many people do not even realize there is a difference between the two.
Both white and vanilla cakes tend to have a similar flavor profile. White cakes tend to have a more distinct flavor whereas yellow cakes get a slight custard flavor from egg yolks.
What Tastes Better, White or Yellow Cake?
Both yellow and white cakes taste amazing in their own ways. Remember, both are vanilla-flavored and theoretically, you can make them equally vanilla in flavor.
The main difference is their texture. White cakes are super fluffy and aerated whereas yellow cakes are usually slightly denser. However, both are soft and tender. So, you should rather choose a texture you like more instead of a flavor.
Both white and yellow cakes are popular choices for wedding cakes and birthday cakes. They are popular flavors that many people love.
Can I Use a White Cake Mix Instead of a Yellow One?
You can use a white cake mix to make a yellow cake. All you need to do is use whole eggs. You can use the creaming mixing method or the egg foaming method.
However, you cannot use a yellow cake mix to make a white cake. Yellow cake mixes often contain dried yolk powder and colorants to give the cake a yellow color. At the most, you can use egg yolks only and white shortening but even then the cake will still have a yellow color.
It's best to use the correct cake mix.
The Best Frostings and Fillings for White Cakes and Yellow Cakes
When it comes to yellow cakes and white cakes, many people have their preferred frostings and fillings. While you can use any type of frosting for either cake, some types will taste better than others.
When it comes to yellow cakes, many people prefer to use chocolate frosting. Chocolate frosting pairs well with the slight custard flavor that yellow cake has. In addition, pastry cream also makes a delicious filling for yellow cake.
Other good frostings for yellow cakes include vanilla buttercream and cream cheese frosting. Caramel frosting will also taste great with yellow cake as well.
For white cakes, the most popular frosting to use is vanilla buttercream, as this compliments the flavor and texture. Other popular frostings include whipped cream frosting, cream cheese frosting, and Swiss meringue buttercream.
There are many different fillings you can use with white cakes. Popular fillings include jams, jellies, fruit, pastry cream, and frosting.
Yellow Cake vs Vanilla Cake
To make matters more confusing, there is also vanilla cake. Essentially, a vanilla cake can refer to a white or yellow cake, as both types of cakes use vanilla as the main flavoring additive.
When a recipe says it is a vanilla cake, check the ingredients. Based on the ingredients, you can tell if the vanilla cake is a white cake or yellow cake based on if the recipe calls for egg whites or whole eggs. Vanilla cake is a term to refers to any cake where the main flavor is vanilla.
Storing Yellow Cakes and White Cakes
Both white and yellow cakes can be stored at room temperature for two to three days in an airtight container. They can also last in the fridge for up to seven days in an airtight container.
Both yellow and white cakes can freeze well, frosted,d, or unfrosted. Both frosted and unfrosted cakes can last in the freezer for up to six months. For unfrosted cakes, allow the cakes the fully cool before wrapping them in a layer of plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.
When ready to use, allow the cakes to thaw overnight in the fridge, and then bring them to room temperature. You can then decorate your cakes and store them in the refrigerator for up to seven days.
For frosted cakes, place them in the freezer uncovered to let the frosting set for one hour. Then, wrap the cake in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. When ready to eat, allow the cake to thaw overnight in the fridge before bringing it to room temperature.
The Difference Between White and Yellow Cake in Conclusion
There are quite a few answers to "what is the difference between white and yellow cake?" More than just the type of eggs they contain! Now you can confidently decide which cake it is you want to make.
Let us know if you have any more questions in the comments below. And, go check out some of our other informative articles on our site.
Lindy Van Schalkwyk is a culinary specialist with a background in Advanced Cooking, Advanced Pâtisserie, Media Communications and Nutrition. She has gained invaluable experience in the culinary industry having worked in some of the top restaurants in Africa in 2016 and 2017. Her expertise in nutrition has enabled her to develop recipes for special dietary needs. In 2018, Lindy began working in the Food Media industry, focusing on recipe development, recipe writing, food writing and food styling.