This candy cane cake has layers of moist and tender vanilla cake infused with a hint of peppermint. It’s frosted with the creamy white chocolate peppermint buttercream and decorated with crushed candy canes for the perfect Christmas dessert!
If you’re looking for a delicious holiday cake that looks beautiful and tastes like Christmas – then this candy cane layer cake is just the thing. The cake is moist with a soft, tender crumb. It’s infused with a hint of peppermint extract that really adds to the flavor without overpowering. I was a little hesitant if I wanted to add peppermint flavor to the cake, but I’m so glad I did. The frosting is ridiculously creamy and has the most delicious white chocolate peppermint flavor.
For the Candy Cane Cake Layers
The peppermint cake is essentially a white vanilla cake, infused with peppermint extract. White cake is a version of vanilla cake, but made with just the egg whites. It has a more white color, as opposed to a golden yellow color, and is a little more delicate in texture than vanilla cake made with egg yolks. I found that white cake was much better for infusing with peppermint, because it doesn’t have quite the same rich flavor as a golden yellow vanilla cake.
The cake gets its moisture from whole milk and just a touch of oil. The cake is made primarily with butter for more flavor, but adding just 2 tablespoons of oil helps to extend the shelf life of the cake and keep it moist a little longer.
For the White Chocolate Peppermint Frosting
The frosting is truly heaven. You get swirls of fluffy, creamy white chocolate frosting that’s infused with peppermint. It reminds me of the white chocolate candy cane Lindt balls, or the top half of peppermint bark, but in creamy frosting form. I tinted the frosting with a little red food coloring to give it a beautiful pink color, and then decorated the cake with crushed candy canes.
Baking Tips & Tricks
- This recipe is made with cake flour (NOT self-raising). If you don’t have cake flour, there’s a substitution in the recipe notes. Always sift your cake flour, as it can get very lumpy.
- The milk and eggs should be room temperature before getting started. If the eggs whites are cold, they can curdle when mixed into the batter. Room temperature milk ensures everything mixes together evenly.
- Stop mixing the cake batter as soon as everything is combined. Overmixing will make the cake tough.
- The cake layers must be 100% cooled before frosting the cake.
- If the cake layers are domed on the top, use a serrated knife to gently saw off the rounded top of each cake layer.
- Use a high quality white chocolate for the frosting. Do not use candy melts, as they don’t have enough flavor.
- Make sure the melted white chocolate is no longer warm before adding it to the frosting – otherwise it will melt the butter.
Make Ahead Tips
- To freeze cake layers, make the cake layers and cool fully. Then wrap each layer in plastic and place in a freezer bag, or wrap in foil. Freeze for up to 2 months, then thaw in the fridge before frosting.
- Cake layers can be made 1 day before serving. Cool fully, then store in an airtight container overnight. Then make the frosting and frost the cake the day you plan to serve.
This candy cane cake is moist, flavorful and has a delicious peppermint flavor without being too strong. The addition of white chocolate to the peppermint frosting really takes this cake to the next level.
For a chocolate version, be sure to try this chocolate candy cane cake. Or for more candy cane treats, be sure to try:
- Candy Cane White Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Candy Cane Brownies
- Peppermint Cheesecake
- Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
Candy Cane Cake
- Two 8-inch round cake pans (with high sides)*
Candy Cane Cake
- 2 ¾ cup cake flour (330 grams) sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk (240 ml) 2% works too
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract feel free to use 1 teaspoon for a stronger flavor
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (30 ml) canola works too
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (168 grams) room temperature
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar (350 grams)
- 5 large egg whites discard the yolks
White Chocolate Peppermint Frosting
- 6 ounces white chocolate (170 grams)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (226 grams) softened, but not melty
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar (330 - 440 grams)
- ½ - 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- a few drops red food coloring
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream (30-45 ml) or whipping cream
- 2-3 candy canes crushed
Candy Cane Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees. Line the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and grease and flour the sides.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, oil and peppermint extract.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Mix in the egg whites about 1-2 at a time, turning off the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Sift in about ⅓ of the flour mixture (do not just dump it in, otherwise there will be lumps). Mix on a low speed until combined.
- Then mix in about ½ of the milk. Repeat the process, sifting in about ⅓ more of the dry ingredients and mixing in, followed by the rest of the milk. Finally, sift in the rest of the dry ingredients and mix in until just combined.
- Pour the batter evenly between the 2 pans. Bake both cakes in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the sides of the cake are starting to pull away from the edges of the pan.
- Cool the cakes in the pans for at least 1 hour, then gently invert the cake pans and remove the cakes from the pans. Continue cooling.
White Chocolate Peppermint Frosting
- Chop the white chocolate into very small pieces.
- Melt the chocolate, either in a double boiler over low heat, or microwave for 30-second intervals on medium heat and whisk in between each interval until smooth. Do not microwave on high power (which is also default), as it can burn/cook the chocolate, causing it to be grainy. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until fluffy.
- Beat in about 2 cups powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon peppermint extract and a few drops of red food coloring. Start with the mixer on a low speed and then slowly
- Beat in the melted white chocolate. Ensure that it isn't warm before adding it into the butter, otherwise the frosting can melt.
- Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar about ½ - 1 cup at a time, alternating with 1 tablespoon of cream until the frosting is thick and creamy. Alternatively, add in a little more peppermint extract until the desired flavor is reached.
Assembling the Cake
- If the layers are domed at the top, use a serrated knife to gently saw off the rounded top of each cake.
- Place 1 cake layer on the cake plate or stand that you plan to serve it on, bottom side up. Frost the cake with about ⅓ of the frosting.
- Place the second cake layer on top, bottom side up. Frost the sides and top with swirls of frosting. If you notice that the cake crumbs are getting mixed into the frosting, frost the cake with a thin, smooth layer of frosting first and place the cake for 20 minutes. Then frost the cake again with a thick layer of swirly frosting.
- Decorate the cake with crushed candy canes.
- Pan Sizes & Bake Times: This recipe was baked and photographed using two 8-inch round cake pans with 2 inch (5 cm) sides. It is too much butter for two 8-inch cake pans with 1 - ⅕ inch sides. Alternatively, you could use:
- two 9-inch (23 cm) round pans - 22-27 minutes bake time
- three 8-inch (20 cm) round pans - 20-25 minutes bake time
- one 9x13 inch (23 x 33 cm) rectangle pan - about 40 minutes bake time, divide the frosting recipe in half
- Cake Flour: This recipe is developed with cake flour. If you don't have any on hand, measure out 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour. Remove 6 tablespoons. Add in 6 tablespoons of cornstarch (AKA cornflour). Sift together 3 times. Do not substitute cake flour with all-purpose flour in a 1:1 ratio.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: For the peppermint cake, ensure that the butter, eggs and milk are all room temperature before getting started.
- Peppermint Extract: Make sure to use peppermint extract and not peppermint oil. It can be found in the baking aisle, near the vanilla extract.
- Storage: Store the cake covered at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Let the cake sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature before enjoying.
- Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 slice with frosting and candy canes, assuming the cake is cut into 10 equal pieces. You may be able to get up to 12 pieces out of this recipe.