This is my favorite yellow cake recipe ever. It uses the two stage method, or as I like to call it, the “written in reverse” method because a) I like the song and b) you mix the dry ingredients first, add in the fat, then add the liquid in stages. So it’s not completely in reverse, but you do start with the dry ingredients instead of creaming the butter with the sugar.
Anyhow, I like this recipe because it makes a yellow cake that is actually yellow (some yellow cakes turn out white) and because the texture is light and non-crumbly, and the flavor is a little more interesting than just plain vanilla thanks to a special extract.
Yellow cake is supposed to be simple, but the truth is it requires way more attention to detail than a lot of other cakes — even chocolate.
1. You should definitely use cake flour for best results. Cake flour weighs about 4 oz per cup and all-purpose flour weighs about 5, so if you use 3 cups of all-purpose flour you’ll be using closer to 15 oz of flour than 12.
2. McCormick Vanilla Butter & Nut (now called Cake Batter Flavor) extract is my new favorite yellow cake ingredient. Along with an interesting flavor that seems perfect for yellow cake, it has a bit of yellow food color mixed in.
3. And finally, egg yolks add a bit of color, but more importantly they add a softer texture. Please don’t be tempted to substitute whole eggs.
UPDATE: This cake is great with the special extract, but don’t skip it just because you can’t find it because regular vanilla is fine. Also, this recipe halves well, so you can make a small layer cake using 6 inch round pans if you prefer.
Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick vanilla butter & nut extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk room temperature
- 3 cups cake flour 350 grams
- 2 cups granulated sugar (385 grams)
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (230 grams)
- 1 stick unsalted butter softened (114 grams)
- pinch or two of salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar (350 grams)
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream plus milk as needed or 3 of each
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round pans. Side should be at least 2 inches high.
- Whisk the eggs, yolks, extracts and 1/4 cup of the milk in a bowl.
- In a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attached, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
- Add softened butter (and shortening if you are using half and half) to the flour mixture and stir with a spoon or mash with a scraper until butter coats flour. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk to the flour mixture and stir until thick and pasty.
- With the mixer, beat on medium for about two minutes. Gradually add the egg mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl. Beat on medium for about 30 seconds.
- Pour the batter into the pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then invert and let cool completely.
- To make the chocolate frosting, mix the softened butter, salt and powdered sugar together in a bowl. Stir in the cocoa powder, sour cream and cream and beat until well mixed. Add vanilla, then continue beating with an electric mixer and adding milk as needed until icing is thick and creamy. Add more sugar if it's not sweet enough for you.