Yellow Layer Cake with Creamy Chocolate Frosting

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So as some of you may have read, I spent this past week with family in the states. Unfortunately my visit wasn’t all leisurely. My Grandmother is actually very ill. But we were able to make the best of this visit and spend some quality time with eachother. On my first day back my Grandmother (who won’t eat hardly anything at this point) told me that she was craving a homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Well, I set out on a mission to make her one immediately. The next day I had this cake sitting on a platter, ready to serve her. She ate a whole slice up, the most she had eaten in a long time.

This just goes to show you why I love food so much- it goes beyond just a mere purpose of sustinance, but actually has deep rooots in memories. Not only was this dessert something that my Grandmother’s Mother prepared for her, but the cake stand had a great deal of sentiment attached to it. My Uncle had brought it back from the Philipines when he was stationed there 25+ years ago. He has 10 years been missed having sadly succumbed to cancer at the young age of 42. Being able to serve my Grandmother this cake on her long forgotten gift was really a special moment.

Now, on to this cake! I absolutely adore a basic yellow cake. Especially with a nice chocolate frosting. Ideally this cake was perfect, but tastewise it was only about 50% so. The. Frosting. Was. So. Disgusting. UGH. It was really dissappointing since I wanted this cake to be perfect my Grandmother, but that’s what you get when you go out on a limb and try something different. I used this frosting recipe. It sounded so interesting, the way that it used melted chocolate, corn syrup, and heavy cream. But… it ended up being almost like melted chocolate slop. It just never set up. I put it in the fridge to firm up and then it just became hard and terrible. Even after being left out at room temperature all day. Still hard. So it never got to that happy frosting medium of smooth spreadability. It went from soup to firm, brittle frosting. The recipe I have written below uses a traditional, more dependable chocolate buttercream.

But the yellow cake layers. Perfect. Lovely. Everything I hope that they’d be. The recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated so it is of course dependable. It uses cake flour so the crumb is beautifully tight. There is a small amount of vegetable oil used that gives it a texture similar to boxed cake. I highly recommend this yellow cake recipe. Although the BAKED Bakery yellow cake recipe that I made last June was incredible too. They are both delicious. This cake is made in two 9″ circular cake pans and the BAKED one is baked in a 9″ square pan. The BAKED yellow cake is also easier to throw together since there is no need to separate, whip, and fold egg whites. You really can’t go wrong with either.

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream


For the Yellow Cake Layers:

  • 2½ cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • 1¾ cups sugar (12¼ ounces)
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature

For Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the Yellow Cake Layers: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9″ round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1½ cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining ¼ 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 bowl and set aside.

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

Using rubber spatula, stir ⅓ of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1½ hours.

For the Fosting: Cream the butter together with the sigar and cocoa until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla and enough milk to make a spreadable consistency.

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