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.
Yellow Cake Flavor
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.
More Yellow Cake Tips!
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. Don’t swap flours unless you know what you are doing (and using a scale).
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.
Thanks for making it and leaving a comment! This is my favorite yellow cake.
Ger - BK
Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe; what a great cake it made. The yellow cake was tender and delicious, with a great crumb. The chocolate frosting was perfect, just the way we like it; rich, silky and velvety. BK
Heidi, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review. Can’t wait to see your photos!
I made this yellow cake today. I didn’t use your icing recipe though – I made a simple chocolate icing made with butter, shortening, cocoa, whole milk, vanilla and a bit of salt. As for the cake, I didn’t have that particular extract you called for so I used vanilla extract and butter extract. I made 1.5 recipes because I wanted to make a 9 inch triple layer cake. 1.5 recipes made the perfect amount of batter for that. The cake is delicious and I especially like that it has a very fine velvety crumb. I sifted my cake flour (with the baking powder & salt) before I added the butter. I think the sifting helped make the fine crumb. Oh, and I used half butter and half shortening like you suggested. This is probably the best from scratch yellow cake I’ve made before. I’ve made many that have a much coarser crumb – which I don’t like. I will try and post my results on my blog soon. I took some pics but haven’t made an effort to download them yet. My blog is VERY out of date. I bake constantly but just never make the effort to post the results! I don’t know how you find the time to keep yours so updated. I’m always checking your blog to read about your latest creations!
I wish virtual reality were an accessible possiblity so I could reach through the computer and have that slice of cake…
Kim, yellow cake can be boring, but this one is not — especially with the frosting. I should add that I use natural as opposed to Dutch for this one.
Karen, you’ve given me an idea. I might try to make this one as a marble cake.
Christine from Cook the Story
A classic favorite can’t be beat! This looks really good!
Hmmm, sounds pretty good. Guess I had burnt out on yellow cakes and chocolate frosting. Box mix cake and butter cream chocolate just seems so ordinary. BUT, new flavor, made from scratch WITH buttermilk, and then frosting with sourcream in…. Shoot, I should have looked at this one 2 days ago. LOL Made cupcakes for a funeral at my church for MONDAY. One batch was pineapple and white cake mix, no eggs, oil, water. The other batch was Joy of Baking Choc. Marble Loaf Cake/bread. (House sure smelled good!)
Gosh, yellow cake and chocolate frosting!!!! This used to be my very favorite cake/frosting combination! I have not had it so many years, I kind of forgot all about it. Might just have to make this… cupcakes would be perfect!
It’s great as cupcakes!
Hi Anna, thanks for posting this Yellow Cake, looks like a keeper to me. I’ll try to find the McCormick Vanilla Butter and Nut Extract in our groceries, I hope they have it. The Chocolate Frosting is my husband’s favorite! Do you think, the cake recipe will also be good to make into cupcakes? Thanks.