White Cake with Berry-Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Impressive in design and flavor.

White Cake with Berry-Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones
Active Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Bake Time:
20 mins
Cool Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 25 mins

Everything's coming up roses. A stunning piping technique completely transforms layers of white cake (which start with a boxed mix, mind you) into a blooming rose. Our deceptively simple White Cake with Berry-Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting will be the star of the show at any gathering, from a birthday soiree to tea time.

Starting with boxed cake mix is the time-saving hack that leaves you with plenty of time to spend making the real star of this layer cake: homemade Swiss meringue buttercream. Fluffy, billowy, and not overly sweet, the raspberry frosting gives this cake a tart flavor and beautiful pink color. There's not a drop of food coloring in this pretty pink dessert. The freeze-dried raspberries (available at Target, Whole Foods Market, and other retailers) add a nice rosy hue and a bit of tang to offset the richness of the buttercream. If the frosting separates a little as you are making it, pop it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Then continue to beat again.


  • 1 (15¼-oz.) pkg. white cake mix (plus ingredients listed on box for preparing cake)

  • Baking spray with flour

  • 1 ½ cups freeze-dried raspberries (about 1 oz.)

  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature

  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided

  • 3 cups (1½ lb.) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-Tbsp. pats

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare white cake mix according to package directions. Divide batter evenly among 3 (8-inch) round cake pans coated with baking spray.

  2. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in centers of cakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks; cool completely, about 45 minutes.

  3. Process raspberries in a food processor until a fine powder forms, about 1 minute. Sift raspberry powder through a fine mesh strainer; discard any unsifted pieces and seeds. Set powder aside.

  4. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and kosher salt with a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes, gradually adding ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar.

  5. Bring ½ cup water and remaining 1½ cups sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Cook, undisturbed, until mixture reaches 230°F to 240°F (soft-ball stage), about 5 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add hot sugar mixture to egg white mixture. Increase speed to medium-high, and continue beating until meringue is room temperature, about 10 minutes. Remove whisk attachment from mixer; fit mixer with a paddle attachment. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add softened butter to meringue, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until butter is combined and mixture is smooth. (If mixture begins to look broken, continue beating until it comes back together.) Beat in vanilla and raspberry powder until combined. Increase mixer speed to high; beat until just fluffy, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides if needed. (You will have about 7½ cups frosting.)

  6. Place a cake plate on a lazy Susan or stand. Put 1 cake layer on plate, and spread top with 1 cup frosting. Repeat with remaining 2 cake layers and 2 cups of the frosting. Using a large offset spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting (about ¾ cup) over sides and top of entire cake. Spoon remaining frosting (about 3¾ cups) into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 127D petal tip. Hold piping bag so pointed (thin) tip is angled upward. Pipe a small cone-like shape in center of top of cake to create a rosebud. Pipe small arching lines around cone, slightly lifting and dropping your wrist as you pipe and lengthening arches as you work toward outside edges of cake, to create rose petals. Starting at top of cake, pipe 2-inch arches around sides of cake, working your way toward the bottom and overlapping arches slightly, to create petals around cake. See additional step-by-step instructions for frosting a rose design here.

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