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grandbaby cakes

Grandbaby Cakes Cookbook Yellow Cake

Trust me, this traditional yellow cake is no plain Jane—in fact, it’s an icon. What makes this cake so special are its classic flavors and staying power. This recipe has evolved quite a bit from the original one Big Mama developed. I have been tinkering, testing, and perfecting it for years, and I am proud to say that my rendition yields a simple yet delicious canary-yellow cake that’s moist, tender, and bursting with the rich taste of fresh butter, eggs, and vanilla. It is the ideal backdrop for a fluffy yet smooth chocolate frosting. While there are tons of recipes for yellow cake with chocolate frosting out there, this one brings home that nostalgic flavor you remember, with the added payoff¸ that only baking from scratch can give.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 18
Author Cookie Madness



  • 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 7 large eggs room temperature
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup 1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream cold
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Liberally prepare 3 9-inch round cake pans with the nonstick method of your choice. (I recommend the parchment method described on p. 17.)
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 2 minutes on high speed. Slowly add the granulated sugar. Cream together for an additional 5 minutes, until very pale yellow and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, combining well after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  • Turn your mixer down to its lowest speed and slowly add the flour in 2 batches. Add the salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Be careful not to overbeat. Add the sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix the batter until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. The finished batter should be pale yellow and have a silky texture.
  • Evenly pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 27 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a layer comes out clean—but just barely. It is crucial that this cake not be overbaked! The layers should have a rich golden color and a spongy texture.
  • Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks. Let cool to room temperature. Lightly cover the layers with foil or plastic wrap so they do not dry out.


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the butter and beat for 2 minutes on high speed.
  • Turn your mixer down to low speed and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
  • Once everything is fully incorporated (the frosting will look crumbly), turn your mixer back up to high speed. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Whip until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.


  • Once the layers are completely cooled, place 1 layer on a serving plate. Spread just the top of the layer with 1/3 of the frosting (please refer to the Basic Frosting Instructions on p. 18). Add the second layer and spread with another 1/3 of the frosting. Add the final layer, bottom-side up, and spread with the remaining frosting. Frost the top and the side of the cake.


Grandbaby Notes: This cake is fantastic as is but absolutely heavenly when you use high-quality butter.
If you ever want to lighten this cake, you can use Greek yogurt or even milk instead of the sour cream.
If you have some extra time on your hands, separate the eggs and whip the whites into stiff peaks. Add just the egg yolks in place of the whole eggs when making the batter. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the egg whites. The baking time is a bit longer (30 to 38 minutes), but the result is a very light texture.
Reprinted with permission from Grandbaby Cakes by Jocelyn Delk Adams, Agate Surrey, 2015.