Swan’s Down High Altitude White Cake Recipe

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(Original cake recipe from a tattered magazine page stuck in an old church cookbook.  I finally found the origin online here. ) 

This is the original Swan’s Down high altitude white cake recipe.  It’s been in use since around 1894, so I’d guess it’s pretty solid.  And Swan’s Down is still around today, which is pretty remarkable as well.  I use their cake flour and have had great results with it.  I’ve included the three recipes – regular altitude, 5,000 feet and 7,000 feet.


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Baking at high-altitude (above 3,000 ft.) can be problematic as the bubbles that cause the cake to rise form too fast. This causes the cake to rise really quickly, before the batter has been baked enough to set. Without a structure, the cake will rise, then fall. The problem is usually too much leavening (baking powder or baking soda).  You can see more about this in my article, “Why Did My Cake Sink in the Middle?”

Swan’s Down cake flour offered one solution: Whip the egg whites just a bit before adding to the batter.  That way, you can use less leavening, but still get that light, fluffy cake you want.

There are other options, and I share some in my post about high-altitude baking here. But if you want to go with something tried-and-true, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.

Simple Golden Cake
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5 from 1 vote

Swan’s Down High-Altitude White Cake for 3,000 ft Altitude

This is the original Swan’s Down high altitude white cake recipe. It’s been in use since around 1894, so I’d guess it’s pretty solid. And Swan’s Down is still around today, which is pretty remarkable as well. I use their cake flour and have had great results with it.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Cool on Rack10 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: High-Altitude Baking, High-Altitude Cake
Servings: 12 Servings
Author: Don Herman

Ingredients

For Meringue in Batter (Prepare beforehand)

  • 3 lg Egg Whites
  • 1/4 cup Sugar

For Cake

  • 2 cups Cake Flour I’m sure Swan’s Down would appreciate a purchase.
  • 2 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Butter or Lard At room temperature.
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Instructions

  • Have the shortening at room temperature. Grease and flour or line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease the top. Use two round 8-inch layers, 1 1/4 inches deep. Start oven for moderate heat (375° F).
  • Prepare meringue by beating egg whites with hand mixer until foamy; add sugar gradually, beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  • The Mix-Easy Mixing Method (I actually use this. At high-altitude it works well, as you really don’t want too much air whipped into the butter/sugar.)
  • Stir butter or lard just to soften. Sift in dry ingredients. Add 3/4 of the milk and mix until all flour is dampened. Then beat 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  • Add remaining milk, blend, then add meringue mixture and beat 1 minute longer.
  • Turn batter into pans. Bake in moderate oven (375º F) 25 minutes, or until done.
  • This cake may also be baked in a 9X9X2-inch pan or a 10X10X2-inch pan in moderate oven for 30 minutes, or until done.

And the version for 5000 ft:

Perfect Cake Layers
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Swan’s Down High-Altitude White Cake for 5,000 ft Altitude

This is the original Swan’s Down high altitude white cake recipe. It’s been in use since around 1894, so I’d guess it’s pretty solid. And Swan’s Down is still around today, which is pretty remarkable as well. I use their cake flour and have had great results with it.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Cool on rack10 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: High-Altitude Baking, High-Altitude Cake
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Don Herman

Ingredients

For Meringue in Batter (Prepare beforehand)

  • 3 lg Egg Whites
  • 1/4 cup Sugar

For Cake

  • 2 cups Cake Flour I’m sure Swan’s Down would appreciate a purchase.
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar LESS 1 tbsp
  • 1/2 cup Butter or Lard At room temperature.
  • 1 cup Milk LESS 2 tbsp
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Instructions

  • Have the shortening at room temperature. Grease and flour or line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease the top. Use two round 8-inch layers, 1 1/4 inches deep. Start oven for moderate heat (375° F).
  • Prepare meringue by beating 3 egg whites with hand mixer until foamy; add 1/4 cup sugar gradually, beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  • The Mix-Easy Mixing Method (I actually use this. At high-altitude it works well, as you really don’t want too much air whipped into the butter/sugar.)
  • Stir butter or lard just to soften. Sift in dry ingredients. Add 3/4 of the milk and mix until all flour is dampened. Then beat 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  • Add remaining milk, blend, then add meringue mixture and beat 1 minute longer.
  • Turn batter into pans. Bake in moderate oven (375º F) 25 minutes, or until done.
  • This cake may also be baked in a 9X9X2-inch pan or a 10X10X2-inch pan in moderate oven for 30 minutes, or until done.
    Simple Golden Cake

And for the really intrepid, 7000 ft:

Simple Golden Cake
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Swan’s Down High-Altitude White Cake for 7,000 ft Altitude

This is the original Swan’s Down high altitude white cake recipe. It’s been in use since around 1894, so I’d guess it’s pretty solid. And Swan’s Down is still around today, which is pretty remarkable as well. I use their cake flour and have had great results with it.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Cooling on Rack10 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: High-Altitude Baking, High-Altitude Cake
Servings: 12 Servings
Author: Don Herman

Ingredients

For Meringue in Batter (Prepare beforehand)

  • 3 lg Egg Whites
  • 1/4 cup Sugar

For Cake

  • 2 cups Cake Flour I’m sure Swan’s Down would appreciate a purchase.
  • 1 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar LESS 2 tbsp
  • 1/2 cup Butter or Lard At room temperature.
  • 1 cup Milk LESS 1 tbsp
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Instructions

  • Have the shortening at room temperature. Grease and flour or line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease the top. Use two round 8-inch layers, 1 1/4 inches deep. Start oven for moderate heat (375° F).
  • Prepare meringue by beating egg whites with hand mixer until foamy; add sugar gradually, beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  • The Mix-Easy Mixing Method (I actually use this. At high-altitude it works well, as you really don’t want too much air whipped into the butter/sugar.)
  • Stir butter or lard just to soften. Sift in dry ingredients. Add 3/4 of the milk and mix until all flour is dampened. Then beat 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  • Add remaining milk, blend, then add meringue mixture and beat 1 minute longer.
  • Turn batter into pans. Bake in moderate oven (375º F) 25 minutes, or until done.
  • This cake may also be baked in a 9X9X2-inch pan or a 10X10X2-inch pan in moderate oven for 30 minutes, or until done.
    Simple Golden Cake

It’s never failed me!  It produces a lovely, light cake.


Want some other ideas for baking at high-altitude? You can check out my other posts – High Altitude Chocolate Cake Recipe and High Altitude Yellow Cake Recipe.  Or, pick up one of these great cookbooks from Alibris, filled with hundreds more:

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5 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Maria Boedigheimer

    Hello!

    Is the Dean’s cake flour sifted before measuring, or after, or at all???

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      Maria Boedigheimer

      Oops! Auto correct!! Should have said “Swan’s cake flour”.

    2. Avatar

      I don’t sift it at all.

  2. Avatar

    5 stars


    I made cupcakes ? with this recipe tonight, we are at 5280 feet. I used the one for 5000 feet. Came out perfectly.. I’m so happy as these are for my daughters baby shower tomorrow.. thank you so much
    1. Avatar

      I’m so glad! And hope the baby shower went well.

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