There are some cake recipes that I go back to again and again, and this simple yellow cake is one of them. Unassuming and almost plain looking, this cake has a great flavor and a soft, tender crumb. It is easy to make and perfect for eating any day of the week in big slices with a glass of milk – rather than waiting for birthdays or other special occasions.
The cake is made by creaming the butter into a mixture of cake flour and sugar. This creates a cake that has a much finer crumb than most cakes made with the regular creaming method. The mixing method given below may sound a bit unusual compared to some other yellow cake recipes, but it doesn’t take too long to put the cake together and the results are well worth the effort. The finished cake has a nice balance of vanilla and butter flavors in it, with the buttery notes coming from both butter and buttermilk in the cake batter. The tenderness of the cake gives it an almost melt-in-your-mouth quality to it.
This cake gets its name from its pale, yellow color. While yellow cake mixes might get their color from food coloring of some kind, the yellow color of this cake comes from egg yolks. For comparison, when I’m making a white cake, I only use egg whites to keep the finished product as light and white-looking as possible. I frosted it with an easy to make chocolate cream cheese frosting, but you can really use any kind of frosting you like, or even serve it with fresh berries and whipped cream if you want to keep things simple!
Perfect Yellow Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Cut butter into 4 or 5 chunks and drop into the bowl with the flour mixture. Blend on low speed until mixture looks sandy and no large chunks of butter remain, 1-2 minutes.
In a large measuring cup, combine egg, egg yolks, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Beat lightly with a fork until combined. With the mixer on low, pour 1 cup of the buttermilk mixture into the bowl. Turn speed up to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed back to low and pour in the rest of the buttermilk mixture. Continue to beat at low speed for an additional 30 seconds, until liquid is fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a few more seconds, if necessary.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, and the cake has begun to pull slightly away from the sides of the pan.
Turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely and peel off parchment paper before frosting.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Beat together butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Sift in cocoa powder and beat until smooth. Add in milk and vanilla, along with about 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar. Mix at medium speed until very smooth.
Add additional confectioners’ sugar as needed until frosting is thick, smooth and spreadable.
Note: If you want to make a two layer cake with this recipe, simply split the batter into two greased and lined-with-parchment 9-inch round cake pans and bake for about 25 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Make two batches if you want a four layer cake.