In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a good old fashioned yellow cake with chocolate frosting. There’s just something so comforting and homey about it. While I do love a good chocolate-on-chocolate cake, the combination of a moist, buttery yellow cake with rich, creamy chocolate frosting is unbeatable! Makes me feel as if I were sitting at my mom’s kitchen table after school. I love desserts like that- nothing fancy or intricately decorated, just simply frosted, like my grandmother would do.

And I have to say, this is the BEST yellow cake I’ve ever had. I was unsure which recipe to use (there are so many good ones out there), but luckily my friend Bridget of The Way The Cookie Crumbles did an in-depth yellow cake comparison on her blog recently and took all the guess work out of it for me! Thanks Bridget (she’s done lots of these comparisons on her blog, so be sure to check them all out!)! I ended up choosing a Cooks Illustrated recipe and it definitely did not disappoint! It’s definitely the most moist yellow cake I’ve ever had and by far the most flavorful. The butter flavor really comes out and the texture is just perfect- light and tender. I paired it with my favorite chocolate frosting recipe and it was just scrumptious. We LOVED this cake (in fact, I’ve had an embarrassing amount of it in the past few days)!

For those of you who are searching for the perfect yellow cake recipe (and I know there are a lot of you!), this is it. I’ve made Martha Stewart’s recipe as well and it doesn’t compare. It may be a little more involved than your average cake recipes, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake

Makes two 9-inch round cakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Grease the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and knock out the excess. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the flour mixture to the now-empty mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Lightly tap the pans against the counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Bake until the cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the cakes from the sides of the pan with a small knife, then invert onto a greased wire rack and peel off the parchment. Invert the cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup cocoa powder
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Stir melted butter into cocoa and alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 3 1/2 cups frosting.
Frost cake when completely cooled, as desired.

Recipe sources: cake recipe seen on The Way The Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cooks Illustrated. Frosting recipe from Hershey’s.

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42 Comments »

  1. Gorgeous cake Amy! I love the simplicity of a yellow cake with chocolate frosting :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Tracey — March 21, 2011 @ 7:19 AM

  2. Well, it may be simple and homey, but it is a beautiful looking cake to me. I love the way the frosting looks.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Nuts about Food — March 21, 2011 @ 8:48 AM

  3. White (yellow) cake with chocolate icing is my fave too! I’ll be giving this a try. The more I make my own foods the less I enjoy bought foods like cakes, so it will be good to have a go-to recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kathy Mercure — March 21, 2011 @ 9:35 AM

  4. Oooh, thanks for posting this. I’m looking for a really good yellow cake recipe for my daughter’s 2nd birthday. We are doing cupcakes and I think this would be perfect with Pink buttercream frosting on top, with sprinkles of course! :)

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    You should definitely make this one! And I think pink frosting with sprinkles would be just perfect! Your daughter will love it! :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Shannon — March 21, 2011 @ 11:16 AM

  5. Oooh, I could use a piece of that right about now – looks beautiful, A! :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jessica of My Baking Heart — March 21, 2011 @ 3:01 PM

  6. This is my all-time favorite cake – I will definitely be bookmarking this recipe!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kathy - Cooking On the Side — March 21, 2011 @ 3:34 PM

  7. This looks really wonderful! I’ve been totally Jonesing for just this combination!!!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kathleen — March 21, 2011 @ 4:07 PM

  8. Your cake is so beautiful! I love how the swipes in the frosting. Ooh, how I want a piece of this right now!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Thanks for a great recipe, Bridget! I would never have known where to begin looking without your brilliant comparison! Love those!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Bridget — March 21, 2011 @ 6:20 PM

  9. What a great recipe! :) I love yellow cake, and my dad hates it. So I never had a yellow birthday cake growing up. :(
    I’ll have to save this recipe and make it myself for my birthday!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Lisa (Dishes of Mrs. Fish) — March 21, 2011 @ 8:06 PM

  10. There’s no such thing as eating an embarassing amount of cake, at least not at my house. :) I love how you tied the memories of your Mom & Grandma into this “sweet” post… That’s three generations of lovin’ from the oven!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kimby — March 21, 2011 @ 8:29 PM

  11. Oh wow… I think my mouth is watering looking at this cake. Looks wonderful!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Celia — March 21, 2011 @ 9:31 PM

  12. Hey, I’m new to your site and love it. I think we have the same taste in food. Watched the suishi video. That’s one food I’ve been scared to attempt. You made it look easy!
    Thanks,
    Christy
    The Girl Who Ate Everything

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Hi Christy! I’m so happy you found me! I’m a big fan of your site too! You could totally do sushi- it’s not nearly as hard as it seems! Go for it! Thanks so much for stopping by!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Christy Denney — March 21, 2011 @ 9:53 PM

  13. Ok so I just attempted this one. It’s currently in the freezer until Thursday, so I won’t know for a while how it turned out (eep!) I did notice that the two layers seemed to be just a tough thin. Did I do something wrong?

    [Reply]

    Comment by Stephanie — March 21, 2011 @ 11:08 PM

  14. Whilst I have the perfect chocolate cake recipe, I’m always on the lookout for a good yellow cake one. This looks perfect. I’m loving the texture . Bookmarked for future use very soon :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Sukaina — March 22, 2011 @ 1:32 AM

  15. Sometimes simple is exactly what we need! This cake looks great!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Dana — March 22, 2011 @ 11:28 AM

  16. I love yellow cake with chocolate frosting, total perfection. This looks great.

    [Reply]

    Comment by katie — March 22, 2011 @ 4:47 PM

  17. This looks amazing. I love chocolate frosting with yellow cake!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jen @ BeantownBaker.com — March 22, 2011 @ 6:30 PM

  18. My favorite cake too! I love how light and fluffy yours looks! I bet it tasted great! What I wouldn’t give for a slice right now!

    [Reply]

    Comment by foodies at home — March 22, 2011 @ 8:08 PM

  19. Having worked with this batter – is there any reason I couldn’t convert it into cupcakes?

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Go for it, Kelly! This would make perfect cupcakes!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kelly @ Kelly Be Well — March 23, 2011 @ 7:50 PM

  20. This looks delicious, and I’m little mad, because I actually was wanting a simple yellow cake recipe (I’m going to try and make some CakePops)…anyway, I just made my cake earlier today. I have an old McCall’s cookbook, so I figured if I wanted old school cake, that would be the place to go. It’s cooling now, so I’ll taste it soon….I might be back for this recipe!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Patty H. — March 26, 2011 @ 7:26 PM

  21. I have been wanting to try this recipe forever. I am so glad to hear you tried and it and loved it!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jenn@eatcakefordinner — March 27, 2011 @ 11:18 PM

  22. Made this last night for a birthday party at work. Was met with rave reviews! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    So happy everyone enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know!

    [Reply]

    Comment by AbberJabber — March 29, 2011 @ 10:05 PM

  23. This recipe looks wonderful and I’m so glad to have run across your site! One question…it looks like because of the egg whites, you couldn’t really make this batter ahead of time (say, the night before) without losing all your volume, right?

    Thanks for the site and the recipe…I will definitely be bookmarking you!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Thank you, Elizabeth! I’m so happy you found me! :)
    As far as making the cake the night before, I’m really not sure, actually. You might try it and see what happens (who knows, it may work perfectly!).

    [Reply]

    Comment by Elizabeth — April 4, 2011 @ 8:32 AM

  24. How do you make the swirly chocolate frosting shape above the cake? I love it and i see it often thnak you!!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    I just use a large offset spatula, take the tip and swirl it around. It doesn’t have to be perfect by any means.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Saida Pech — October 12, 2011 @ 1:07 PM

  25. Hey everyone, I am relatively new to the world of baking and I’m living in an apartment with a terrible oven. It is impossible to get my oven to 350 – does anyone know how to convert for either 325 or 400?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Josh — October 17, 2011 @ 8:12 PM

  26. [...] Chocolate Frosting adapted from Sing for your Supper [...]

    Pingback by Great Chocolate Frosting « Black Martha — February 21, 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  27. 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.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Regine — January 14, 2013 @ 12:10 PM

  28. [...] finally reached the end of the birthday party recap and I saved the best for last- cake.  Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is a classic recipe for a reason- topping a tender crumb with a rich buttery garnish is dessert [...]

    Pingback by Throwback Thursday: Yellow Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting | BettyCupcakes Throwback Thursday: Yellow Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting | C'mon over, y'all! — February 28, 2013 @ 2:31 AM

  29. AMAZING!! It looks absolutely amazing!!!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Emanuelle — March 14, 2013 @ 9:43 PM

  30. I just watched a show today that demonstrated “moms birthday cake” from the vanilla bakeshop in santa monica. They didnt give the exact recipe or measurements but did show the ingredients. They also separated the yolks from the whites. I’m hoping when I try your recipe it will yield the same results. Looks yummy!

    [Reply]

    Comment by sandy — March 31, 2013 @ 6:57 PM

  31. How long do I bake …if using 9×13 pan?
    This will be dessert for our Super Bowl party on Sunday.
    Can’t wait to try this.

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    30-35 minutes. Enjoy!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Marie — February 1, 2014 @ 10:21 AM

  32. On the frosting does the powder sugar need to be sifted.

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    I never do, but you can if you want to.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kim — June 29, 2014 @ 12:25 PM

  33. Like many others, I’ve made countless yellow cakes trying to find the right one that I could use over and over. This one was exactly what I was looking for!! I made it last night and it was awesome! Perfect texture and taste. Thank you for posting this recipe!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Alyssa — August 8, 2014 @ 6:31 AM

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