To begin, both white and yellow cakes are vanilla cakes. Subtle differences in the flours and fats determine which cake is better suited for certain frostings (or even certain occasions).
French vanilla cake is similar to vanilla cake but has a stronger taste. The “French” part of the name doesn’t signify where the vanilla came from, as it does with Madagascar vanilla or Tahitian vanilla. It simply refers to the taste of vanilla custard (aka the classic French way of making ice cream from cream and egg yolks). French vanilla cake mimics a custard flavor by including egg yolks in the batter, making it a yellow cake.
What is yellow cake?
Yellow cake gets its golden color from the bright color of egg yolks rather than food dyes. This cake is rich and delicate because it is made with entire eggs rather than separated egg whites. The fat in yellow cake is frequently solid butter rather than a butter-shortening mixture, which adds to the bright hue.
Yellow cakes are often made using all-purpose flour, which results in a richer, denser batter. The additional fat from the egg yolks helps to the texture of the cake, making it moister and denser than a white cake. The egg yolks give the cake a light custard taste that stands up nicely to chocolate or cream cheese icing.
What is white cake?
White cake, which is pure white and cloud-like, may be a classy, tiered wedding cake or a wonderful blank canvas for a funfetti cake.
White cake, as opposed to yellow cake, is commonly made with just egg whites and no yolks. This translates to less fat and increased sponginess. White cake recipes might also call for a combination of butter and shortening to tone down the yellow hue of a pure butter cake.
White cake is usually made using cake flour rather than all-purpose flour, resulting in a thinner batter and lighter cake. Cake flour has been bleached to get a pure white color and has a decreased protein concentration, which minimizes the quantity of gluten that develops within. When you use cake flour, the cake will rise well and have a very light, fine crumb structure.
What about regular vanilla cake?
If the cake doesn’t specify if it’s white or yellow, look at the ingredient list to see if it calls for whole eggs or just egg whites. This will give you a better notion of the final cooked cake’s texture and taste.