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« Vanilla Rum Soaked French Toast | Main | Quick Chocolate Cake »

Chocolate Frosted Yellow Cake

chocolate frosted yellow cake

One of the reasons I discovered my passion for baking and started a food blog of my own is because of a certain special woman.

Deb, from Smitten Kitchen, inspired me to take out my baking pans and put them to good use. I discovered her gorgeous blog a year and a half ago and immediately spent the next three hours flipping through her recipes. At the time, I didn't really know what blogs were—much less that thousands existed about food—but I knew I was in love with what I saw. Little did I know this small discovery would alter the course of my life forever.

chocolate frosted yellow cake

I made her recipes almost religiously for a few months as my food blog repertoire grew. She even inspired me to take out my camera and start snapping photos of my food. Even though I knew absolutely nothing about photography (much less how to properly photograph food), I wanted to learn. I'm almost embarrassed to show you, but this is my very first attempt at food photography. You can't even tell what it is. I think I've come a long way, don't you?

Now, a year and a half later, I changed careers, swapping my physics textbooks for a pair of oven mitts. I can finally call myself a real baker.

chocolate frosted yellow cake

I honestly believe this is the best cake I've ever made and eaten. Trust me on this—I would never lie to you about something so delicious. The yellow cake is buttery, sweet, and so moist it will make you want to cry tears of jubilation. This cake bakes up perfectly every single time. Every single time. It will forever be my go-to recipe for yellow cake. When you have found perfection (and you are looking at it), there is no need to search further. I have found my yellow cake soul mate.

Now let's not forget about the chocolate frosting. This frosting is mildly sweet (and won't make your teeth feel as if they are about to fall out, which I find quite important in my frosting recipes). There is a lot a of cocoa powder in this particular recipe so the frosting tastes deliciously of cocoa. It was very difficult not to eat this by the spoonful.

Best Yellow Layer Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yields 2 8-inch or 9-inch cake rounds

4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 8 or 9-inch round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the buttermilk until just combined. The mixture will look curdled. Add the flour mixture in three separate batches, beating just until each addition is fully incorporated.

Spread the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (if using 8 inch cake pans, add 5-10 minutes to the baking time but watch closely). Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan and invert onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour.

chocolate frosted yellow cake

Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from here

Yields enough frosting to cover a 2 layer 8 or 9-inch cake

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until it is smooth without lumps. Gradually add the powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Lastly, add the milk until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency.

chocolate frosted yellow cake

Reader Comments (31)

Hi! I think your photographs are perfect (although I have to admit that your first photo made me smile :). the cake looks moist, and the frosting looks buttery and not too sweet and i want to take a bite immediately. I have all the ingredients, except the cake flour. can I use AP flour instead?
thank you!
codruta, from timisoara, romania
01.29.2011 | Unregistered Commentercodruta popa
I love Smitten Ktichen too! Not only are the recipes delicious they always work. Your cake is beautiful and I'm sure delicious. I was wondering if you have ever made this recipe as cupcakes:)
01.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn
That cake cooks amazing. I'm thinking I might have to try that one next weekend for the big superbowl/birthday party I'm hosting! i loved the first picture you linked too. Photography is hard! So, what kind of camera did you start with, and have you upgraded? Where did you learn the most about food photography? I'm just starting out as well, so I'll take all the advice I can get!
01.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole J
Codruta—All-purpose flour should work just fine. I've used it before and its worked just fine. You can also make cake flour pretty easily (which is what I tend to do). For every 1 3/4 cup of flour, add 1/4 cup cornstarch and you will have your own batch of cake flour.

Robyn—I have made this cake in cupcake form! Simply reduce the baking time (about 18 to 25 minutes),watch them closely and they should turn out well. It tastes just the same.
01.29.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
oh, this looks so delicious! I`m absolutely sure that`s really tasty!

Have a great time,
01.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaula photography has come a LONG way from that first photo:)
I have been on the hunt for the perfect yellow cake recipe. they all seem to turn out dry and unmemorable. I cant wait to try this one!
01.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie
What a gorgeous cake! You've convinced me to try this recipe ASAP! Your photos have definitely come a long way, but isn't that the beauty of food blogging? Getting to look back and smile at how far you've come? Well done, for sure! :)
Deb definitely played a HUGE role in inspiring me to start a food blog as well. That woman is a genius.

This cake is gorgeous and you definitely can't go wrong as it's a total classic!
01.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne
Such a beautiful cake! Its amazing what the world of blogging can do for a person
01.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKat @ Cupcake Kat
Hi! Your cake looks beautiful. I just have a quick question for you....have you ever used it with cupcakes? I would guess that it could easily be adapted, but I wanted to check on your expertise :)
Nicole—I started with a Sony Cybershoot P100 and have since upgraded to a Canon Rebel T2i. Everything I know or learned about food photography was self-taught. I'd take hundreds of photos of a food item until I finally understood what was going on and got the photo I wanted. Practice is key!

Jenn—I have made this cake in cupcake form! Simply reduce the baking time (about 18 to 25 minutes),watch them closely and they should turn out well. It tastes just the same.
01.30.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Thanks Kristin, hope to make this soon:)
01.30.2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn
Your photos of this cake are amazing and really really make me want to eat it right now. I am still searching for my go-to yellow cake recipe, maybe this one will be it? Would you describe this yellow cake as dense or more light and fluffy?
I've had this recipe bookmarked for quite some time now. It looks fantastic and I'm glad you had good results with the taste too. The other yellow cake recipes I've tried always end up too dry, so I have high hopes for this one.
01.30.2011 | Unregistered CommenterXiaolu
the cake looks absolutely wonderful.
Buttermilk is not available where I live. I was wondering if I could substitute it for something else? Can you please suggest a substitute.
01.30.2011 | Unregistered Commentersiva
Jenn—This one is it. It is neither too dense or too light, but sits somewhere in between. It has a nice sponge and is very moist. Even after a few days, my cake didn't dry out.

Siva—Actually, I never buy buttermilk and just make my own substitute so I'm glad you asked! For every cup of milk, take out a tablespoon and substitute it with lemon juice. Let it set for 5 minutes and it should curdle nicely.
01.30.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
First of all I love SK so much. I have found so many good recipes there. Secondly, I made this exact cake down to the exact same sprinkle on top on the same day of your post. This is THE BEST CAKE!!!!
01.31.2011 | Unregistered Commenterntm76
This cake looks awesome. And the sprinkles! So cute!
02.2.2011 | Unregistered CommenterTanja
Could these be made into cupcakes?
03.3.2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaige
Paige - These could easily be made into cupcakes! I've done it before. Just reduce the baking time to 18-25 minutes.
03.3.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Thanks for the substitution help. Its a huge relief to find an alternative for buttermilk cause a lot of recipes I want to try out calles for it. Now I can happily bake, cook away. Could you include metric conversions for this recipe.
03.6.2011 | Unregistered Commentersiva
I made this cake for my birthday in August, and it turned out so well that I'm making it for my friend's birthday! This is certainly the best cake I have ever made : )
10.15.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeanie
I just wanted to say that this cake was great - simple and delicious. Thanks for sharing!!
11.7.2011 | Unregistered Commenterlissy
This cake looks beautiful and sounds heavenly. For me, I love the fact that you didn't put a thick layer of frosting throughout the cake. It's what attracted me to the photo. I'm not a frosting hater but I just like a thinner layer that compliments the cake instead of always having to scoop off most of it because it's too thick on the top, sides and middle. I will definitely try this cake! Thanks!!
11.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatsy
I have been searching for a cake recipe for my husband's birthday, and I found yours! I can't wait to make it. Thank you for your hard work!
12.7.2011 | Unregistered CommentergPretty
Yes indeed, this is so simple yet delicious! I try to make it as often as I can, for my personal enjoyment, of course, but it's been a blockbuster hit with, well, everyone! And the frosting, oh my god, the frosting is exactly what I was looking for, you can't go wrong when using cocoa powder! Thank you so very much for bringing this recipe into my life!
I just wanted to ask, the cakes have this kind of funny smell, I'm guessing it's maybe because of the amount of baking powder and soda, is that normal?
04.2.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFarjad
Farjad-- Hmm, I've never noticed a funny smell. Are you using older baking soda/powder? It might be the culprit in lending a smell.
04.2.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
You are right, this is the best yellow cake. I made it for my husband's birthday. It will now be my go to yellow cake recipe! The cake is fluffy yet moist. Thank you for sharing!
04.17.2012 | Unregistered CommenterShannon
I can't have the cake because I have a dairy allergy, but I made it for my family last night after I made the Rosemary Focaccia bread. They loved the rich icing and the light yellow cake. They are not happy with me when I share it with the neighbors, but I told them we would try something else from your list of yummy treats. Thanks again for sharing.
08.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichele
It looks like I'm about the only person for whom this cake baked up less-than-moist and not as flavorful as I anticipated. I wonder what I did wrong. :(
08.25.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHollee
I had the same problem when I made this cake from deb's blog. I followed directions exactly. I used deb's sour cream frosting so I had to refrigerate the cake overnight in sealed Tupperware. Served it the next day at room temp and it was dry and not too flavorful. I was so disappointed since it got such great reviews.
09.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally

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