Published May 1, 1995.
For a white cake with perfect, fine-grained texture, don't beat the egg whites prior to mixing.
Unfortunately, the white cakes that we have baked over the years, though good enough, always fell short of our high expectations. They came out a little dry and chewy--one might say cottony--and we noticed that they were riddled with tunnels and small holes. What were we doing wrong?
White layer cakes have been the classic birthday cake for more than 100 years. White cake is simply a basic butter cake made with egg whites instead of whole eggs. The whites produce the characteristic color, and they are also supposed to make the cake soft and fine-grained--that's what we wanted.
Every traditional recipe for white cake calls for stiffly beaten egg whites folded into the batter at the end. We began to suspect that it was the beaten egg whites that were forming the large air pockets and those unsightly holes in the baked cakes. We solved this problem by mixing the egg whites with the milk before beating them into the flour-and-butter mixture. The results were fantastic. The cake was not only fine-grained and holefree, but, to our surprise, it was also larger and lighter than the ones we'd prepared with beaten whites. And the method couldn't be simpler, quicker, or more nearly failure-proof.list of recipes