Cook’s Illustrated Fluffy Yellow Cake — Best Yet!

Over the weekend I baked three different yellow cakes. All were variations on basic 1-2-3-4 cake and of the three, my favorite was Magnolia’s. But I had to move on and decided to try three more recipes which were significantly different than 1-2-3-4 cake. I chose the Cook’s Illustrated Fluffy Yellow cake recipe, a recipe by Shirley Corriher and a recipe off a site called Egg Beater.

First up, the Cooks Illustrated Cake which I baked this morning. Honestly, I could just stop here. This cake was exactly what I was looking for. It was softer, tighter crumbed, lighter and better than all the 1-2-3-4 cakes. I’m not expecting the other two to be better than this, but you never know. CI just upped the ante. It also proves that reader/sometimes commenter Katy G. is always right about everything. She recommended this recipe to me months ago.

Because CI is so methodical, you might want to get the recipe from Cooks Illustrated themselves or from someone who posted the recipe without paraphrasing much. I’ve included 3 links that contain the recipe.

Fluffy Yellow Cake Recipe

Fluffy Yellow Cake Recipe

Fluffy Yellow Cake Recipe

Take your pick.

I halved it, baked it in a 9 inch round pan and frosted it with what has become my house chocolate frosting.

Sorry the picture is not very exciting, but what can I say? It’s a half cake baked in a 9 inch round pan. Maybe I’ll go stack what’s left of it on top of itself and make a two layer.

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  1. Louise says

    It struck me funny that the poster of the CI recipe at Gardenweb was disappointed with it. Just shows you why one recipe won’t satisfy everyone. I think it looks like a great candidate to be the layers of a Boston Cream Pie.

  2. says

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner! That’s a lot of cake going on at your house!
    I made two healthier goodies today that are both just ‘meh’. I. want. some. yellow. cake. with. chocolate. frosting!

  3. says

    Thanks for posting this, Anna. I have the CI recipe for Rich and Tender Yellow Cake in The Best Recipe cookbook, and it is totally different. So it’s nice to have both on hand. I made the RTYellow Cake many years ago for a friend whose favorite cake is Yellow Cake, and it was a big hit. But it was so long ago, I can’t even remember how it tasted!

  4. says

    Risa, yellow cake is one of those things I never felt I excelled at. Not because I couldn’t make a good one, but because I didn’t have one perfect recipe. I guess I’m just trying to zero in on a couple of good recipes to use when people request yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

  5. Charity Taylor says

    I can’t wait to see the other two and find out which is the best. I have made dozens of yellow cake recipes and am never satisfied. Lots of luck in locating your ‘go to” yellow cake! The house chocolate frosting looks good!

  6. says

    I feel like our minds have merged together because for the past week I have also been trying out yellow layer cake recipes! How strange. (This seems to happen to more often than you would think…) Anyway: I have tried 1 from Cooks illustrated, 1 from the Cake Bible and today I think I have finally found the best. It is from king Arthur’s website. It is their Golden Vanilla cake. It is mixed using the 2 step or reverse creaming method (you know, mix all the dry ingredients first, then add the soft butter- no creaming of butter and sugar etc..) Anyway, this one looks fantastic, the batter was smooth as silk. It is cooling now, haven’t tasted it, but I am hopeful this is THE ONE!

  7. Whitney says

    I am a big fan of your blog I have been reading it for the past 6 months. I don’t ever comment though. Question: What about trying Williams and Sonoma yellow cake recipe or Dorie Greenspan’s yellow cake base for her perfect party cake, or even a doctored up cake mix for your experiment?

  8. susan scarborough says

    Hi Anna, I was wondering if you have tried the other CI yellow cake? Does not use melted butter. If you tried them both let me know? If not I may have to try the fluffy version. The CI one I use uses softened butter, and beats the eggs with the milk drizzling into the dry inged. that have had the butter dropped into it a bit at the time (more or less “cut in”) Looks easier, but will try “fluffy” one if it is better.

  9. says

    Hi Susan,

    I haven’t tried that one, but the technique sounds similar to the one used in the chocolate butter cake I posted last week. You mix the dry ingredients, add the softened butter, then drizzle in the eggs which have been mixed with cooled coffee. The chocolate cake has a really tight crumbed, dense texture. I’ll bet the vanilla version you use is really good!

  10. regine says

    I have tried countless number of yellow cake recipes, and the very best is CI’s Fully Yellow Cake. It is great for layer cakes, moist, tender, light. Just perfect. The only thing is that I HATE the acidic taste and powdery texture I seem to find in cake flour, so I replace the cake flour SUCCESSFULLY with all purpose flour. I use the formula of 1 cup cake flour is 3/4 cup (12 tbsp) all purpose flour with 2 tbsp cornstarch. Trust me, this formula ALWAYS works and delivers a superior cake.

  11. Sonya says

    I am so tickled to see that you did the same type of taste test with the same results! I baked six kinds of yellow cake about a year and a half ago, and this was our favorite, but I had a close second and palatte fatigue, so yesterday I repeated the top two cakes, adding two more recipes to try, and this one was the CLEAR winner, so delicious in every way!!!!

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