Yellow Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

This cake has been kind of a work in progress. The original version was good — so good in fact, I called it my favorite. However, I tested it with a few different frostings and decided the original version was almost too moist and that I wanted a slightly sturdier version to stand up to thicker, heavier frostings such as caramel.  This new version is similar to the old but uses all-purpose flour (and a little more of it), a little milk, and doesn’t require the egg whites to be whipped.


Yellow Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Basic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Serves: 10
  • 2 3/4 cups( 12.4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup room temperature sour cream
Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups of confectioners' sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2-4 tablespoons of milk or as needed
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9x2 -inch metal cake pans with flour-added baking spray or grease with butter/shortening and flour.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium high speed until light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually add the sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice and beating for about 5 minutes or until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and continue beating for another minute or two, scraping sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low and add the milk, then add flour and sour cream alternately. When flour is fully incorporated, divide evenly among the pans.
  4. Bake on center rack for about 35 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched and a pick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.
  5. To make the frosting, mix together the butter, cocoa powder and 2 1/2 cups confections' sugar until the come together. Add a little salt. Bring mixer speed from low to high, scraping sides of bowl, until well mixed, then gradually add the sour cream. Add milk. Taste, and add the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners sugar if you feel you need it.










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  1. Janice says

    Ah, just what I was looking for. Yay!
    Anna, is there anything I can do to convince you metric measurements are the way to go? Working in base 10 makes recipes (most especially baking recipes) so much easier to understand, modify and remember

  2. says

    Love these cakes. I have found a good yellow cake recipe is hard to find and I will try this one. Thank you for testing all these recipes for us!!!!

  3. says

    Janice, you know I love metric, and if I had the time, I would convert everything. There’s also the issue of people being intimidated by it, so I’d have to have both types of measurements. My goal is to start small and just encourage people to get scales, but if you’d like me to convert this to metric for you and email it to you, I’d be happy to.

  4. Martha in KS says

    This cake brings back a memory of a church ice cream social & a yellow cake with chocolate icing that tasted like malted milk balls – my favorite candy. Fifty years later & I can almost taste it. I wonder if I could just add malted milk powder to your frosting.

  5. says

    I think I am going to try and make this gluten free over the weekend. One of the best gf banana muffin recipes I have uses sour cream and I think that is the key to its tastiness/fluffiness. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks for posting. I’m excited. It is hard to find gf, corn free, soy free stuff that tastes good.

  6. Janice says

    Thanks for the offer, you are always so kind!
    Actually I’ve been weighing ingredients for so long I can convert to metric in my head.  I guess I was just testing the waters; so to speak. I just wish people could get it into their heads that it’s much easier to modify recipes when working in metric as opposed to U.S. standard units.
    Either way that cake is now on my list;-)

  7. says

    Nicole, let me know how the gf version is.

    Jackie, in a pinch, the full fat Greek yogurt might work. However, sour cream has a lot of fat in it and that probably contributes to the overall texture. You could experiment and make 1 8 inch layer.

    Janice, that is so true!

  8. says

    I made this icing yesterday and did not have any sour cream. I took a chance and used low-fat yogurt and it worked out beautifully. It may not be as creamy as the full-fat sour cream, but the taste was amazing.

  9. Sarah says

    I don’t know what it was about the picture of this cake, but it just spoke to me. I have been wanting to make it since you wrote about it, but I haven’t had a reason. Finally, I had one! I made this cake last night for Valentine’s day. It was DELICIOUS! It wasn’t as dense as yours, but I am thinking maybe it was because I didn’t use the full fat version of the sour cream? Or it could be that I didn’t follow all of your “musts”. I made cherry icing for the frosting and it was fabulous! As always, I love all of your recipes (and I have made A LOT of things you post).

  10. says

    Hi Sarah,
    I am so happy the cake worked out for you! It took me forever to master yellow cake because I was always making substitutes or taking shortcuts that in most cases never proved to be a big deal. But with yellow cake, every little thing counts. It’s great to know that even with a few substitutes, this cake worked. Hooray!

  11. says

    Anna, I just made this cake and forgot to put in the leavening. =(

    Any ideas for how to recycle these delicious disks? Hate to let all those beautiful ingredients go to waste!

  12. says

    Yikes! Maybe you could mash them up, mix them with cream cheese frosting, dip them in chocolate and serve them as cake balls?

  13. Leilani says

    Hi Anna…I am on the hunt for a “go – too” yellow cake. I usually have to freeze them and decorate later. How does this recipe do with freezing or refridgerating? I’ve read that unless it’s oil based versus butter, it will not do well. I’m going to try CI Fluffy yellow cake and Shirley C’s today, but they both have oil. This one sounds better, but wondering about the freezing and refridgeration. Thankyou so much!!


  14. says

    Hi! Good luck with the cake! I wish I could give you a definite answer, but I’ve never heard anyone say that oil cakes freeze better than butter. In my experience, all cakes seem to freeze pretty well. Please let me know what you think. At this point, I wouldn’t hesitate to freeze a butter based cake. Pound cakes are almost always made with butter and they always freeze perfectly.

  15. Rhiannon says

    I just made the sour cream frosting from this post and it is so delicious! Possibly the best homemade frosting I’ve managed to make. I highly recommend it! Thanks!!

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