Monday, July 26, 2010

Yellow Butter Cake with My Mom's Chocolate Frosting

 Unless you count my one son who always wants lemon meringue pie, this is THE birthday cake requested at my house- yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I must confess that in the past I have made the cakes from a mix, but this time I was on a mission to make a very special cake for my hubby's birthday.

 Blogging about food (and reading other food blogs) has made me much more adventurous and confident in my baking endeavors, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and make this one from scratch. Now I've made plenty of other kinds of cakes from scratch, but I've never tried just a simple yellow butter cake. (Mainly because so many of the "scratch" cakes I've tried have been dry and tasteless.) I knew I wanted to use my Mom's recipe for the frosting, but I didn't really have a "go to" recipe for yellow cake.

 When Memoria at Mangio da Sola went on her search for the perfect yellow cake, I followed along with interest thinking I'd use her winning recipe. But as fate would have it, my internet wasn't working (again) when I went to get the recipe so I had to look around for another. I settled for one that I found was in the Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America cookbook.  I made it exactly as directed and found it to be moist and delicately flavored, with a wonderful tender crumb. In other words, absolutely delicious! What was I so afraid of? I topped it off with my Mom's signature chocolate frosting that she's been making forever, and it was perfect.

The next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I will probably try to increase the frosting to cake ratio because for me, (even though the cake was moist, tender and flavorful) cake is a great excuse to eat frosting.  How about splitting those two layers to make four layers? With some pastry cream sandwiched between them?  I'm sure I'll be able to find some excuse to experiment with this further before I do more birthday baking!

Yellow Butter Cake
from Baking at Home With the Culinary Institute of America
3 1/2 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1 cup whole or low-fat milk (divided use)
4 large eggs (room temperature)
2 large egg whites (room temperature)
2 tsp. vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat two 8" pans with cooking spray.
  • Into the bowl of your mixer, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • Add butter and milk.
  • Using the whisk attachment of your mixer, mix together on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together milk, eggs, egg whites and vanilla.
  • Add egg/milk mixture to flour mixture in three additions, mixing for two minutes after each addition. Scrape sides of bowl after each addition.
  • Divide the batter between prepared pans. Bake 35-40 minutes or until layers spring back when touched in the center.
  • Remove from oven and allow cakes to completely cool in their pans on wire racks. Release sides and bottoms of cakes with metal spatula or knife. Unmold and finish with filling and/or frosting.
My Mom's Chocolate Frosting
(I doubled this recipe for this cake. When my mom makes this, it always comes out perfect. I think it must be the way she holds her mouth or something. It's hit or miss for me. I've even watched her do it and I do it exactly the same way. Sometimes the frosting gets too hard, and sometimes I have to cook it again to get it just right. But whatever I do to it, it always tastes great and is what everyone expects to have on their yellow cakes around here.)

1 and 1/2 blocks unsweetened baking chocolate (1 and 1/2 ounces)
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1/3 cup milk
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Over very low heat in a heavy saucepan, melt together chocolate, butter, milk, sugar and salt. Once chocolate is melted, raise the heat and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for exactly one minute. Take off heat and add vanilla. Allow mixture to cool for about 10 minutes. Beat frosting with a wooden spoon until no longer shiny. It should be spreading (not pouring) consistency. Quickly spread frosting on the cake, because at this point it will begin to set.


  1. The perfect cake; love that photo and I.m sure it was real good.

  2. I cannot believe my eyes! This is the frosting that my grandmother (from Virginia) made for her devil's food cake. I remember standing by the stove while the chocolate and butter melted. And, she used granulated sugar--not confectioner's. And it had to be spread quickly. I LOVED that frosting and have searched every cookbook I have and see for it with no luck. Now, here it is. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm not even taking the chance of bookmarking it but am writing it down this minute.


  3. As soon as I sent the previous comment, my eyes fell on the cold oven poundcake. My mother's pound cake went into a cold oven. Are we related? = )


  4. What a lovely cake. I have that book but have never made the cake. I'll have to remedy that having read your review of it. It sounds wonderful. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. I'm definitely with you on cake being an excuse to eat frosting! :) This cake looks absolutely perfect though and Happy Birthday to your hubby!

  6. This is such a perfect cake! I have to make my mom a birthday cake - and this is totally the one!

  7. Wow! What a wonderful family tradition you have with this cake! Looks so delicious.

  8. I'm with you...I like a little cake with my frosting! :)
    Each of my kids has their favorite birthday cake. It's amazing how different their tastes are, too. MY favorite is a sponge cake my aunt used to make for us on each of our birthdays. Not one of my kids likes it! :(

  9. Yellow cake is ALWAYS a favorite, especially when combined with chocolate frosting. I'm definitely going to have to try this recipe! (And YES for more frosting...never too much.)

  10. Your cake is beautiful! I love your mom's frosting recipe. I am going to print it out now. Next time I make a cake I will think of you as I frost it with your mom's recipe!

  11. This is a birthday cake staple in my house too :) Yours look so great and I bet it tasted amazing. Way to go homemade!

  12. oh yes... I am all about splitting the layers into for so you can sandwich in some extra frosting! Cake looks delicious!

  13. Your cake looks beautiful! I'd have to agree with upping the frosting;) The way you describe the cake makes it sound truly wonderful!

  14. i think i requested yellow butter cake with chocolate frosting for every birthday from age 5 to age 15--it was my absolute favorite for a long time, and rightly so! :)

  15. these days yellow cake is my absolute favorite, and adding a little extra butter certainly helps!! chocolate frosting just add so much to the cake, and I think you can appreciate it more since it s contrast of flavors! I can see why its a hit at your house!


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