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Have a secret soft spot for that impossibly tender cake from a boxed mix but want to make it from scratch, with real ingredients? We’ve got you covered with the best yellow cake recipe with chocolate frosting.

Easy Yellow Cake Recipe with Chocolate Frosting 780 | Umami Girl
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Why we love this recipe

This recipe is the answer to a very particular question that I’d been dying to solve:

How do you make a cake from scratch that has all the good parts of a cake from a box mix but none of the bad parts? Obviously no unpronounceable ingredients, thank you very much. And no over-sweetness that leaves you with a sugar hangover.

Several years ago when Umami Girl was about to turn 10, I did some pretty exhaustive research to find a starting point for this cake. I knew I couldn’t be the first person to want a satisfying answer to that question, and I wasn’t.

This cake boasts:

  • Almost impossibly light, fluffy moistness
  • Dense chocolate frosting (adapted from our sour cream ganache)
  • Simplicity
  • Sort of vague nostalgia for a version of Americana you never quite possessed
  • SPRINKLES

To all that, I say: Yes, PLEASE.

What you’ll need

Here’s a quick glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe. It’s not much!

ingredients in bowls
  • Cake flour is a lower-protein flour that’s been ground to a finer consistency than all-purpose flour. It’s necessary for this recipe, so don’t substitute. See the FAQ section below for more information.
  • It’s important to have your ingredients at room temperature for maximum fluffiness.

How to make it

Here’s what you’ll do to make the best yellow cake recipe. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post. Find all the details in the recipe card below.

  1. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar, and oil together for 90 seconds. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated.
  3. On low speed, alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients, just until incorporated.
  4. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Expert tips and FAQs

What is cake flour?

Cake flour is made from “soft” wheat with a low protein content — usually 7 to 9 percent (vs. the 10 to 12 that you’ll find in all-purpose flour). It’s also more finely milled than all-purpose flour. This combination gives cakes a light tenderness that goes above and beyond.

Can I substitute all-purpose flour?

No, the cake won’t turn out the same if you substitute all-purpose flour. If that’s what you’d like to use, I’d recommend this cake or this one (both among our absolute favorites of all time).

Is there a cake flour substitution that I can make at home?

You’ll find people suggesting that you can mix cornstarch into all-purpose flour to make a cake flour substitute. I really don’t believe in this method — I’ve tried it in a pinch, and it really does not yield the same result as cake flour at all.

Save recipes with cake flour for when you’ve got it. There are lots of great cakes out there that don’t call for it.

What brand of cake flour should I use?

Here are a few great options: Swans Down // Softasilk // King Arthur.

How do you measure flour for baking?

We’ve provided the measurements in both volume and weight below, so if you have a digital kitchen scale, flick it to the grams setting and weigh everything for perfect, precise results. If not, it’s critical to fluff your flour with a spoon to make sure it isn’t too dense in the container. Then use the spoon and level method to measure: spoon the fluffed flour lightly into your measuring cup and run the flat side of a butter knife across the top to level it off.

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Easy Yellow Cake Recipe with Chocolate Frosting 780 | Umami Girl
4.60 from 30 votes

Best Yellow Cake Recipe with Chocolate Frosting

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Have a secret soft spot for that impossibly tender cake from a boxed mix but want to make it from scratch, with real ingredients? We’ve got you covered.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
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Ingredients 

For the yellow cake

  • 1 ¾ cups (210 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) safflower oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) buttermilk

For the chocolate frosting

  • 5 ounces (142 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (120 grams) sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • Rainbow sprinkles

Instructions 

For the yellow cake

  • Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center. Butter and flour an 8 x 8-inch baking pan, tapping out any excess flour.
  • Into a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat sugar, butter, and safflower oil together, starting on low speed and increasing to medium when incorporated, for 90 seconds.
  • Beat in eggs, yolks, and vanilla until incorporated.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low. Alternate between adding the flour mixture (in 3 parts) and the buttermilk (in two parts), starting and ending with flour. Mix just until batter is smooth — do not overmix.
  • Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 28-32 minutes. When baked, cake will be set and slightly springy in the center and will have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. A cake tester inserted in the center should come out with a few crumbs clinging to it, but not liquid batter.
  • Set pan over a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. (You may leave the cake in the pan to frost it or gently remove it when cool enough to handle.)

For the chocolate frosting

  • Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or in short bursts (about 30 seconds each) in the microwave, stirring between bursts.
  • When melted, stir in sour cream, milk, vanilla and salt until smooth and glossy.
  • Spread immediately onto cooled cake.
  • Decorate with sprinkles. Frosting will set over time.

Notes

  1. Yellow cake adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook.
  2. Use cake flour for this recipe. Cake flour is made from “soft” wheat with a low protein content — usually 7 to 9 percent (vs. the 10 to 12 that you’ll find in all-purpose flour). It’s also more finely milled than all-purpose flour. This combination gives cakes a light tenderness that goes above and beyond. Good choices are Swans Down // Softasilk // King Arthur.
  3. You can make this cake anytime on the day you’d like to serve it.
  4. Keep leftovers tightly sealed at room temperature for up to three days.

Nutrition

Calories: 399kcal, Carbohydrates: 52.5g, Protein: 7.1g, Fat: 19g, Fiber: 2.1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cakes
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.60 from 30 votes (30 ratings without comment)

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