Homemade Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

in Cakes & Cupcakes, Chocolate

It drove me nuts growing up. I’d go into the kitchen only to find that a “frosting gremlin” had broken into the cake pan overnight. The gremlin would take a fork and meticulously lift off the rich chocolate frosting, leaving only the squares of plain yellow cake behind. Who does that?!

The list of suspects was limited. There were seven of us in the house – one of those was a teacup poodle and another was diabetic. The best part? I made no secret that I thought that the only edible part of my mom’s favorite cake was the chocolate frosting on top of the cake. I just didn’t care for yellow cake. Do you have any idea how hard I had to plead for people to believe that I wasn’t the frosting gremlin?

Yellow Cake

Mom’s birthday means yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

Tender, buttery, and not too sweet, this cake was a delight to make and even more delightful to eat (but not a delight to frost… more on that below). I was giddy after that first swipe of my finger through the batter. It would be fair to say that between the rubber spatula, mixer attachment, and mixing bowl, that I’d eaten enough cake batter to call it a three-course lunch. It really made me appreciate a good yellow cake recipe.

While the flavor was wonderful, I was still a bit discouraged: my yellow cake wasn’t really all that yellow. I spent the first 15 minutes of the recipe creaming the life out of (or rather, into) butter and sugar until it had just barely the hint of yellow. And then it hit me…

On my way to the register at Target this morning, I made a pit-stop in the baking aisle and flipped a box of yellow cake mix on its side. And there it was on the ingredient list: Yellows, number 5 and 6. Cheaters.

And the frosting gremlin was eventually outed. It was my dad, the one with the perfect alibi. The diabetic 🙂

Yellow Cake

A classic fluffy yellow cake with chocolate frosting and ganache.


  • For the cake
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • Your favorite chocolate frosting
  • For the Ganache
  • 1/2 lb semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  1. *To make the cake:
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and line with parchment paper two 8x2-inch pans (These cakes rose over the top of my 2-inch pans - you could very well have a mess on your hands if you try 1.5 inch pans). Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Place butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for 3 minutes on MEDIUM-HIGH speed until the butter is light and creamy in color. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream the butter for an additional 60 seconds.
  4. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl before each addition. Add the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer speed. Stir vanilla into the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a knife or off-set spatula. Lift up the pan with the batter, and let it drop onto the counter top a couple of times to burst any air bubbles and allowing the batter to settle. Center the pans onto the lower third of the oven and let bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake is lightly brown on top and comes away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely in the pans before removing the cakes and frosting.
  7. *To make the frosting:
  8. Place chocolate in a bowl large enough to handle the chocolate, cream, and whisking waves. Bring cream to a low boil over medium heat. Shake bowl if necessary to make sure the chocolate is completely submerged. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.
  9. Assemble the cake: Level the cakes and cut into four layers. Spread 1/2 cup frosting over each layer of the cake. Pour ganache over the cake, spreading to ensure even coverage.


Yields: 1 2-layer cake

Adapted from The Well-Decorated Cake

Estimated time: 1 hour 30 minutes

10 comments… add one
  • Mmmmm chocolate ganache. Thank you for this recipe – my husband LOVES yellow cake and I have yet to find a good recipe that isn’t a sponge cake. I’ll be trying it out on him soon! 🙂

  • I think I am the frosting gremlin in my house.

  • Deborah

    This is my husband’s least favorite kind of cake, so I’m thinking of making it so I can eat the whole thing!!!

  • I was a frosting gremlin 🙂

  • Mike

    Looks tasty (as only a slice or two of cake remains in the fridge…)

    Your comment about the yellow cake not being yellow picqued my interest, and so I was looking into it…apparently some recommend using only the egg yolks instead of the whole egg, but that seems like no fun and I don’t really see that doing the trick. I was thinking maybe you could crumble some saffron in there to achieve the same effect with added cool points for using saffron. *shrugs*

  • This cake sounds perfect! I’ll let you know how it turns out. My hubby told me a long time ago to make him a chocolate cake but I thought he wanted a chocolate/chocolate cake. THIS is what he wanted all along.

  • Chelsea Evans

    Is this cake dense enough for fondant and tiers? Thanks!

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