Perfect Yellow Cake

Well, the day is finally here. As many of you know, I’ve been on a quest to perfect the best yellow cake on the planet. And this is it. I’m sitting here wondering why the earth hasn’t stopped moving or why the President has called me personally yet (actually, scratch that, I’d rather have a call from Bobby Flay). I mean, this is a big day. Monumental, some would say. But probably only if they are a total baking nerd like me. So yeah, I’ll stop waiting around for any phone calls. While this post is a bit involved (I couldn’t help but share the testing results with you!), the truth is, the actual cake recipe is super simple so don’t let the explanations scare you. If you follow the recommendations thoroughly, you’ll end up with the fluffiest, most delicious yellow cake ever.

Perfect Yellow Cake

Sidenote

Many of you were shocked when I said I was on version #16 or something like that. Lemmetellyousomething: the perfect yellow cake didn’t just fall into my hands easily like I thought it would and I knew I couldn’t give you just an okay yellow cake. It took a ton of testing and my family and I have eaten more yellow cake in the last couple months than is probably legal. For some reason, yellow cake is a bit fussier to get just.right then, say, chocolate cake (my most beloved recipe for chocolate cake is a one-bowl recipe where you basically throw everything together without room temperaturing anything and it comes out completely divine).

I’ve been amused by all of you who have left comments and emailed me about what on earth I’ve done with all 16+ yellow cakes; apparently this is a source of much concern. There were two or three variations that honestly were inedible (either burned or so dry, even my toddler couldn’t choke them down). The others have been widely shared with friends and company and I even have a few unfrosted layers hanging out in my freezer for when we get the hankering to crumble it up and toss it on some ice cream. So rest your weary minds: the yellow cakes were well taken care of and devoured, although I don’t think anyone in my family will be requesting a yellow cake for his/her birthday for a long time. We are a little yellow-caked out.

Perfect Yellow Cake

I’d Be Lost Without Them

A special, super, huge thank you to two very important people (I kind of feel like I’m giving an acceptance speech at The National Convention for Perfect Yellow Cakes here): Nicole, a wonderful friend of mine, was the one who finally gave me the insight I needed for the last step in perfecting this cake (a huge blessing because I didn’t know if I honestly had another yellow cake in me and her advice resulted in the.perfect.cake) and Lisa, sweetest sweetie ever, who willingly tested this cake for me (multiple times) in order to provide all you high altitude dwellers with essential tips for success. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Evolution of Testing the Perfect Yellow Cake

When I first set out to perfect the almighty yellow cake, I started with three recipes popular online (David’s Yellow Cake from allrecipes.com, Deb’s yellow birthday cake from smittenkitchen.com and Cook’s Illustrated Yellow Layer Cake). I made each of them as is. While I am a fan of each of these sites and resources, respectively, the cakes were all lacking to me. David’s Yellow Cake was a little dry with kind of a weird, spongy texture, the cake from Smitten Kitchen was reminiscent of cornbread and the Cook’s Illustrated yellow cake was by far the driest of them all.

I set about modifying ingredients and amounts and methods and while someone smarter than I probably could have pared the testing down to just a couple of cakes, what can I say, it took me a while.

For all of you interested in the ins and outs of testing, I’ve included probably more details than anyone wants below the recipe. If you don’t give a hoot (don’t worry, I still love you), the recipe is below just waiting for you to make it.

Perfect Yellow Cake

P.S. If you are wondering, that adorable little cake stand in a few of the pictures is from Rita Marie Weddings. The Audrey – Regular Size and I love, love, love it. Dana, owner of Rita Marie, sent it to me ages ago and I’ve been using it like crazy during the Yellow Cake Experiment.

One Year AgoSix Recipes the World Forgot {Part 3}
Two Years Ago: Paprika Chicken Stroganoff
Three Years Ago: Naan – Indian Flatbread

Perfected Yellow Cake

Yield: Makes two 9-inch layers or three 8-inch layers

Perfected Yellow Cake

Please read below the recipe for information on specific ingredients. I made and tested this cake over 16 times and have fine-tuned the ingredients and the methods. That isn't to say you aren't welcome to substitute and change, but in my yellow cake experience, this match up creates yellow cake perfection (substituting all-purpose flour, using cold eggs/milk, overly greasy soft butter, and a multitude of other factors can result in a dense, dry cake).

If you are making your own cake flour using one of the two simple methods I posted about, don't worry about making one cup of cake flour at a time, instead, use 210 grams all-purpose flour and 45 grams cornstarch; sift twice. Then add the other dry ingredients and sift once more.

For high altitude, add an additional 2 1/2 tablespoons cake flour before sifting (that would be about 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch if using a homemade cake flour substitute).

Update: I've heard from several of you that while the cake tastes amazing, it is sinking in the middle or is baking flat. I can't analyze the why's too much because it will make my head pop off since I dedicated months of my life to this cake anyway. When I had too much leavening in the cake (2 teaspoons baking powder + 1 1/2 teaspoons soda), the cake rose too much in the oven and then deflated so I scaled it back to what worked perfectly for me. But here's the deal, if you are worried about sunken layers, increase the baking soda. My suggestion would be 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (13 ounces, 368 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, lightly measured (9 ounces, 255 grams), see note for high altitude adjustments
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (1% or above), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (light or regular), room temperature

Directions

  1. To prep, whisk together the milk and sour cream together in a liquid measure and let come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and make sure an oven rack is placed in the middle of the oven.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, whip the butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat for 4-5 minutes on medium speed. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. One at a time, add the eggs and egg yolks, mixing just until combined in between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Combine the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift them together through a fine mesh strainer.
  6. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 1/2 of the milk/sour cream mixture and mix. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Add the last 1/2 of the milk/sour cream mixture and beat until just combined. Add the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Give the batter one good, final stir with the rubber spatula.
  7. Grease the cake pans and line the bottoms with a parchment round. Grease the parchment and sides of the pan again very well. I use regular cooking spray but you can also use butter or cooking spray with flour. If your cake pans tend to cause sticking, consider also flouring the pans.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Drop each pan from about 3-inches onto the counter to minimize air bubbles while baking.
  9. Bake for 25-28 minutes (high altitude: 28-30 minutes) until lightly golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Resist the urge to open and close the oven to check on the cake - this can cause the center of the cake to fall and never recover. And as with all cakes, don't overbake or the cake will be dry.
  10. Let the cakes rest in the pans for 5-10 minutes before gently turning them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/perfected-yellow-cake/
Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Ok, let’s talk…

I’ve jotted down all the details of why the type of ingredients/method matters for this cake. Read on, read on!

the butter

I’ve mentioned it before, but I rarely use unsalted butter. I tested this cake with both unsalted and salted and adjusted the salt amount accordingly. In the end, there wasn’t a difference in outcome, so I stuck with my go-to: salted butter. I use the Land o’ Lakes brand mostly (sometimes the Sam’s Club brand). If you want to use unsalted butter, increase the salt to 1 teaspoon. Also, butter temperature really matters. It should be soft enough to gently slide a finger through with a bit of pressure but not sludgy, greasy or overly soft. The time I accidentally used overly soft butter (uh, it somehow stayed on the counter for, like, 12 hours because even though I love baking, my five kids still take precedence over making a yellow cake), it resulted in a greasy, weirdly spongy cake. I did not test this cake with margarine, coconut oil, shortening or the like so you’ll have to experiment with those if desired. Also, whipping that butter for a good 1-2 minutes is extra important. And beating the heck out of it and the sugar for another 4-5 is non-negotiable. Doing this creates air which helps create fluffiness in the baked cake. The cake(s) that I tested where the butter was minimally whipped were not nearly as fluffy. And fluffy = greatness.

the eggs

I know, I know. Using room temperature eggs is a total pain in the behind. I’m right there with you! I hate recipes that require it. And so when I first started testing cakes, I refused to do it. And my cakes were looking like this:

fallen cake

So I crumbled, no pun intended, and used room temperature eggs the next time I made a cake and the difference was remarkable. Light and fluffy where before the cake was slightly dense and a bit crumbly. There may have been other factors at play, but as I messed around with the recipe, it was very, very clear that room temperature eggs are important. If you are like me and often forget to plan in advance, don’t fret – place those chilled eggs in a bowl or liquid measure filled with very slightly warm water for 15-ish minutes and you’ll be good to go.

Speaking of the eggs, it was my friend, Nicole (as mentioned above in the post), who encouraged me to scale down the whole eggs from four to three and add an egg yolk or two to replace the missing whole egg – two egg yolks managed to be the perfect answer. Egg whites add structure but can take away moisture from baked goods, hence the three whole eggs + two egg yolks in the recipe. Don’t be like me and get tempted to sub a whole egg for the two egg yolks. You’ll get a pretty decent cake but not a fantastic, best-ever cake. Know what I mean? I was quite in awe of the difference two egg yolks made. However, when I used all egg yolks and no whites, the cake was slightly gummy and not as fluffer-fluffy as I wanted.

milk + sour cream

I was sure that plain old milk was the only liquid I needed in my cake. At about cake #10, I was fairly positive it needed to be one cup of whole milk, even though the thought made me cringe since I never have whole milk on hand. However, I knew perfection was the goal so I put my whole milk annoyances behind me and moved on…until my friend Nicole (yes, she’s brilliant and I want to be her when I grow up), helping me troubleshoot my cake conundrums, suggested that a bit of acid in the recipe would create the tenderness I was after. I was befuddled why I was getting a really, really good cake that was still just so, very slightly dry. In the end, it wasn’t necessarily dryness but a lack of tenderness I was noticing. And the adjustment of sour cream to compensate for the reduced milk did just the trick (plus adding baking soda in for the acidity in combination with the already present baking powder, which took a couple rounds because I misjudged the amount of baking soda at first and there was so much leavening power in the cake that it sank in the middle…badly…however, once the baking powder and soda were adjusted accordingly, the cake was magnificent). The real plus was that after I added sour cream, I used 1% milk instead of whole without sacrificing any moisture or tenderness.

weighed flour

As much as my heart wanted a fabulous yellow cake without having to use cake flour, it didn’t happen. The cakes I made with all-purpose flour were dry and dense with a much coarser crumb, slightly reminiscent of dry cornbread. And uh, I don’t want cake that tastes like dry cornbread. Cake flour is lower protein than all-purpose flour and also has a finer texture (thanks to the starch in it) which results in a much finer crumb in a baked cake. The good news is that even though the recipe requires cake flour, you can make your own (my kitchen tip from yesterday gives you two super easy methods). If you have a kitchen scale, use it. You’ll get very precise results. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, buy one. Ok, just joking. Kind of. I know not everyone can do that (but you should really put it on your wish list). If you are measuring using cups, measure with a light hand. Spoon the cake flour into the cup and gently level off with a flat edge.

For this recipe, if you are making your own cake flour, don’t mess with making one cup at a time, instead, I’ve done the math for you: you’ll need 210 grams of all-purpose flour and 45 grams of cornstarch. Sift it twice. Then add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and sift once more. Make sense?

Also, for high altitude, I’ve got your back. Ok, actually, my friend, Lisa, has your back. She tested this recipe for me – she lives at 5,400 feet elevation. She made the cake twice, the first time it fell significantly. She added an additional 2 1/2 tablespoons cake flour (if using a homemade cake flour substitute, that would be about 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch) and the cake baked up perfectly (along with a slight increase in baking time and buttering the heck out of the pans).

sift the flour

This sifting action, called for in the recipe, is in addition to any sifting you may have done if you are making your own cake flour. You don’t need to sift twice, just give the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda a quick sift through a fine mesh strainer. This was one of the last variables to add to the recipe. The last few cakes I made were so good. But just not quite there. I should have considered sifting earlier on, but again, I was trying to minimize fussiness. Once I sifted the dry ingredients prior to incorporating into the batter, the results were far superior – lighter and fluffier (let’s see how many times I can use those two descriptors in this post).

the batter

Ah, the gorgeous batter. It may look just slightly curdled and that’s ok. Spread it evenly in the pan (hasn’t been done in the picture, just so you know – don’t leave your batter lumped up like that) and give it a quick tap or light drop on the counter. When I didn’t do this, there were significant air bubbles in the baked cake. You don’t want to drop it from the rooftop like a crazy egg-drop challenge and you don’t need to tap more than once, just a quick light drop will suffice. I only ever baked the cake in two 9-inch pans to keep testing criteria similar, however, I think it could also be made in three 8-inch pans. Cupcakes and sheet cakes will have to be an experiment until someone reports back. I have them on my radar also, but it may be a little while before I actually try them.

As for the cake pans, significant greasing (with butter and cooking spray and possibly flour, too) is needed for the cake not to stick. I also line the bottom of the greased pan with a parchment round that I’ve cut out and then grease the top of it. My magic number for baking was right at 27 minutes; however, keep in mind that all ovens vary slightly. Lisa, my awesome friend who tested high altitude baking for me, needed more like 30 minutes for her cakes (she made the recipe twice).

Phew! I’m tired! If you made it this far, you seriously deserve a big huge kitchen nerd award (from one baking nerd to another).

Now, the big question…

What should I perfect next?

199 Responses to Perfected Yellow Cake

  1. Tami says:

    I made this cake recipe this past weekend and it did not disappoint! It was absolutely amazing! This recipe makes me so happy! Thank you Mel!!!

  2. Hailey says:

    I made this Saturday and it was really really good! The first slice I had (two hours after it came out of the oven) didn’t really impress me. My husband on the other hand who is not a dessert person at all went back for seconds (he doesn’t even like cake for his birthday he likes milkshakes)! The second slice I tried after dinner rocked my world. I used the chocolate butter cream recipe you posted a few weeks ago and it all was just perfect. This is my new go to yellow cake recipe!

    Has anyone tried making this recipe as cup cakes?

    • Lisa says:

      Mel,

      Thank you so much for this outstanding recipe!! I have been on a quest for the last 9 months to find a scratch yellow cake recipe that is moist, tender, fluffy and actually tastes good. After baking over 30 different recipies, wasting tons of ingredients and gaining 5 lbs, my search is finally over! I could kiss you! I made your recipe exactly as you instructed. Although, I did bake cupcakes instead of a cake. They were perfect. I did not have any of the issues that some of the other posters described with my cupcakes. They had nice little domes, no sinking or flat tops and the taste and texture were perfect. Again, I was careful to mix them exactly as you instructed, which I think makes a difference. Thank you so much for all your time in testing the recipes in order to make this one perfect for us :)!!!

      • Mel says:

        Thanks, Lisa! I’m thrilled your cupcakes turned out well – I’m planning on trying this recipe as cupcakes next week. Thanks for reporting back!

  3. Danielle says:

    I tried my hand at this cake over the weekend…I failed! Apparently my pans were over filled because half way through they overflowed into the bottom of my oven making a smoky mess. In an effort to salvage it, I dumped both cakes into a 9×13 pan and through it in another oven. (The non smoking one) It wasn’t very pretty, but I thought I would cover it with frosting anyways. I have never had more compliments on a cake in my life. The texture and flavor were perfect! Your recipe…even with all my mess ups it was still to die for!

  4. Sm says:

    I made this cake for my son’s first birthday yesterday, and it was a hit!! I also wanted to let you know that I subbed the cornstarch for arrowroot powder, and it worked out great!! The internet told me I could, but it warned me the cake might bake faster. It didn’t. Just wanted to let you know that, and thank you for all the time spent perfecting it! It was yummy!!

  5. Justin says:

    Hey Mel, just thought I should comment, as I just made these into cupcakes. It made 24 cupcakes, I’m not high elevation or anything, and it took my oven about 14ish minutes (and that was with two tins of 12 cupcakes in the oven together), so I would say for the average person anywhere from 12-15 minutes. The edges may not brown near the top (they didn’t on all of mine before the toothpick pulled out clean on them) but yeah, they came out awesome. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Margaret UK says:

    Hi Mel, I made this cake plus the chocolate frosting for a small party the other day. I topped the whole thing with sliced strawberries and served with cream. Everyone said it was – quote – Fabulous! and it really was. Light, moist, fluffy, and tender. I made it in 2 x 9″ tins and may try it in 3 x 8″ tins next. Thanks for the recipe! x

  7. Anna says:

    The cake turned out great! The orange curd I made was delicious, and your chocolate frosting is divine!

    The cake baked really well in a 13×9 pan, then I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and chilled it before I sliced off the outer brown layer and split the cake into two layers. For service, I put it back in the cleaned 13×9 pan, with the curd between the layers, and topped it with a half batch of the frosting. So delicious!

    Thanks again for sharing your experiments.

  8. Allie says:

    Mel, this cake is SO good! I’ve tried many different yellow cake recipes, including Cook’s Illustrated and Shirley Corriher’s, but I think your recipe is now the one I’ll use. I followed your instructions to the letter and weighed all the ingredients, and the cake turned out very moist, tender, and fluffy. I used one of the layers for a strawberry shortcake, and I wrapped up the second layer and put it in the freezer. A week later, my husband thawed it and had a slice—plain—and, HOLY COW! The texture had become ever-so-slightly more dense, and it tasted like the best pound cake ever. With every bite, he kept saying, “This is SO good. My god, this is good.” Thanks for your tireless research and testing to bring us this recipe!

  9. Paula Nielson says:

    My cake turned out exactly like Laurels…. I even measured and followed directions to a T. So strange… I’ll try it again someday… You are amazing Mel and I absolutely love everything you do.

  10. Anna says:

    Just chiming back in to report that as of yesterday, our cake is gone to the last scrap.

    It kept getting better as the days went on, which is most of the reason it didn’t last long.

    The orange curd soaked in to the cake a bit in the middle, the chocolate frosting soaked in a bit from the top. So good.

    Next time I think I’ll add 6 ounces of chocolate, just to see how it compares.

  11. Melanie says:

    Tried it and it was amazing! So yummy!

  12. Denise says:

    After seeing this post, I decided I wanted this cake for my birthday. Hubby made it and turned out delicious! The frosting is also amazing!

  13. Mariah says:

    Mel, I love the scientific, experimental approach you take with your baking! As a engineering PhD and baker, I can totally appreciate the crazy amount of time you put into checking all the factors! Next time, whatever you decide to perfect, call me, I’ll give a smaller Design Of Experiment. That way you won’t have to get sick of the perfect thing you’ve created! (p.s.- cheesecake? brownies? toffee? I have so much trouble with toffee!)

  14. Diane says:

    Perfection, Mel!! Thank you so much! The layers are perfect and the cake is so light feeling. I haven’t frosted and eaten it yet, but I’m sure it will be exquisite. I’m filling it with Italian custard and strawberries, and icing it with almond frosting and strawberries.

  15. Laurel says:

    I’m back and I figured it out!! Thank goodness you perfected everything for me and all I had to make was 3 cakes.
    According to a website, high altitude baking.com, high Altitude baking requires a decrease in the leavening and increase in the moisture. The website has a chart from the cookbook “pie in the sky” telling you exactly what you need to do depending on your altitude.
    I’m at 5,660 so I added 1 T more milk, 1/8 t baking soda, 1 1/4 t baking powder.
    Don’t forget the already mentioned increase in flour 2 1/2 T flour.
    Watch the bake time too! I only needed 25 minutes.

  16. I’m so excited to try this – I love yellow cake!

    So one important question – any thoughts on this in a bundt pan? I know I’d need to increase the cooking time, but do I need to use more ingredients (like 1.5 times?) or do anything else differently? I’m trying to make a yellow cake for my dad’s birthday and he is quite skeptical of me using anything other than a boxed cake mix combined with a boxed pudding mix. Thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      That Married Couple – hmmm, bundt pan. That’s a good question. Definitely new territory since I haven’t tried this specific batter in the almighty bundt. My inclination is that you will need more batter for a bundt pan unless you want it to turn out a little on the shrimpy side, so I’d go with your idea of 1 1/2 times the batter. We have to get this to turn out right so your dad’s skepticism can be banished for good! :) This cake does tend to be a little sticky in regular cake pans so make sure to grease and flour the heck out of your bundt pan.

  17. Wendy says:

    Love how this recipe reads – I am on a mission to make a marble layer cake for an upcoming birthday. Wondering if I took a cup of the batter and then added either 2 oz melted chocolate or a 1/4 cup of high grade cocoa and then swirled? What do you think?

    • Mel says:

      Wendy – Generally for marbled cakes you need to swirl the yellow batter with another batter, in your case chocolate, so instead of swirling melted chocolate or straight cocoa you might try adding a bit of cocoa to half of the yellow cake batter and using that to swirl. I haven’t tried it so I am not sure how adding cocoa will affect the yellow batter. You could also use another chocolate cake recipe for swirling. Good luck!

  18. ellen says:

    W.O.W. This cake is simply too good for words. It’s like no cake I’ve every made–it’s moist, flavorful, tender, and waaaaay to good to be turned into a bunny for Easter dessert tomorrow. But that is it’s fate. I’m happy to say that I now have a go-to cake and it’s this one!

  19. Holly says:

    Here’s something to try for those who have trouble with cakes sinking in the middle – baking strips on the outside of your pan. Wilton and a few others make them (sometimes called ‘bake even’ strips). I’m at about 4500 ft, and find they really work well here. You soak them in water first, then wrap them around the pan. I prefer the ones that are pinned rather than Velcro so that I can adjust according to pan size (or use two for my larger pans).

  20. Maureen says:

    Wowsa! I followed your updated advice and upped the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon — I am looking at two beautiful, level yellow cake layers on my cooling rack just waiting for the chocolate buttercream frosting. Happy Birthday indeed! :o) Thanks Mel!

  21. Stacia says:

    I’ve been on the lookout for the best cake recipe. I’ve made so many cakes that haven’t matched up with my expectations. I have to say you nailed it. This cake was delicious, fluffy, and moist. Just what I’d expect from a homemade cake. It did take a little more planning ahead but well worth the effort. Thanks so much. If I wanted to convert this to a white cake what would you suggest since the yolks were so important in this recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Stacia – I don’t dare guess how to convert this to a white cake since I learned the hard way with this cake experiment that there are too many factors at play. The good news is I definitely want to perfect a white cake and hope to do so soon, so keep checking back!

  22. Emily says:

    I added the extra baking soda you recommended. I weighed everything (with a newly-calibrated scale). The cakes looked beautiful in the oven but ended up being very thin and dry. So sad. I wonder where I messed it up. I think you are amazing and know it was me who ruined it and not the recipe’s fault. I made it for my son’s first birthday and he dug right into it! Thank you for all of your hard work for us helpless chefs! :)

    • Mel says:

      Emily – The increase in baking soda is just a suggestion for those that have had cakes fall which can happen based on altitude and other factors. It could be that you had the same thing happen to you that happened to me – because of the increase in baking soda, there was too much leavening and that can make the cake fall into thin layers (that’s the reason I scaled the baking soda back to 1/4 teaspoon). The 1/4 teaspoon soda works the best for me so I’d encourage you to make it per the recipe and see if that helps next time. I am glad your son still enjoyed it despite it being thin!

  23. kate C. says:

    Worked great for my daughter’s birthday cake! Very tasty! Topped it with Deb’s Caramel cake caramel topping instead of frosting – so good! The texture and flavor and rise were all great. I did add 1/2 t. baking soda instead of 1/4 t. though, but everything else was the same (I use a scale and love the weight measurements – so much more precise and that’s important!)
    I baked the layers yesterday and used one for the caramel cake today, though we all had to try a little of the other layer yesterday (that was destined for the freezer). It was definitely best and freshest yesterday, but still pretty darn good today!
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  24. rmd says:

    Mel, have you ever doubled this recipe with success? Having tested it out and declared it a winner, I now have an occasion that requires a larger cake. I know straight doubling doesn’t necessarily work as the leavening agents don’t necessarily double…etc. so if you have successful larger volume amounts, that would be great. If you haven’t doubled, I will just make the recipe twice to be safe. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      rmd – I totally know what you mean and wish I had doubled it so you didn’t have to go to the extra work but I haven’t yet. If it were me, I’d probably make the recipe twice instead of doubling. If I do double it, I’ll be sure to post an update. Good luck!

  25. Katie says:

    How do you think this would do as the cake in your coconut tres leches recipe?

  26. Daphne says:

    Any ideas on how to incorporate coconut into this to make it a yellow coconut cake? I wasn’t sure if just adding dry coconut would change the texture. I don’t want a dense cake. Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Mel says:

      Daphne – It’s a great idea but I haven’t tried it so I don’t know how coconut would affect the texture. If it were me, I’d whisk in a cup or so of shredded coconut with the dry ingredients and incorporate that way. Coconut usually doesn’t absorb moisture so I’m not sure it will dry out the cake but it might change the texture a bit.

  27. Daphne says:

    So…I made this cake and brushed it with rum Chata. The cakes did sink a bit in the middle…got a little darker than I would have liked on top bc the centers weren’t cooked. Texture seemed great though! I cut each later in two to make 4 layers. I put cake, vanilla ricotta cannoli filling, cake, chocolate ricotta cannoli filling with coconut, cake, another vanilla layer, cake, and iced it with European buttercream. Topped it with toasted unsweetened coconut and chocolate ganache drizzle. The fillings are not very sweet, but the cake and buttercream should help with that. So excited to taste it for my mother in law’s bday tonight!!!! I’d add a pic if I could!

  28. Kelly says:

    Hi Mel,
    A few quick questions. What is the best way to store this cake after I’m finished making it? In the fridge or on the counter at room temp? Also, I making your chocolate butter cream frosting to go with the cake, do you think the frosting travels well? I’ll be driving about two and half hours with it and I’m debating whether or not I want assemble the cake before I go or after I arrive.

    • Mel says:

      Kelly – I definitely think the cake is fine assembled with the frosting for that length of time as long as the temperature isn’t overly warm. I always store this cake well covered with plastic wrap or on a cake plate with a cake dome at room temperature. Sometimes refrigerating cakes can dry them out. Good luck!

  29. Barbara says:

    This cake is perfected!!! I’ve made it twice now. the second time I added 1T of lemon zest (which was a little wet with juice) and my son did the beating (I think a little overbeat). It sank a little and was a little heavy, but still really good. I added a batch of the lemon curd from the no bake lemon cheesecake to the Magical frosting and it was a winning lemon cake!

  30. Taylor says:

    Hi Mel- I made this cake as cupcakes. I followed your original recipe, but did use super-fine sugar (the secret to REALLY tender cake). The cupcakes puffed up very nicely in the oven, but after about 15 minutes started to fall. I ended up baking them for approx 19 minutes and they had at that time fallen quite a bit but they were done so I pulled them out. I was a little disappointed at first because I didn’t get any dome whatsoever. However, they did still taste very good and they were moist and tender. If they had just stayed risen, they’d be perfect! I iced them with Hershey’s chocolate frosting recipe on the back of the container. I think my dad will be pleased with his birthday cupcakes, so for that I thank you.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Taylor – sorry the cupcakes fell a bit. I haven’t made this recipe as cupcakes yet and am guessing the falling issue is either due to the superfine sugar (not saying it would be for sure, but I know that every ingredient can be a factor and I haven’t tested the cake with superfine sugar) or the batter needing more/less leavening when adapted as cupcakes. I’ll definitely try them soon this way and report back with my experience.

  31. sujoo says:

    Hi Mel!! The cake is sooooooooooooooo, sooooooooooooooo Yummy! Who knew I could make a cake from scratch?!! I don’t have 2 round pan. (Only 1), so I baked mine in a 9×13. It obviously had to bake longer, and I was concerned about keeping it out, as we weren’t going to eat it until 1~1/2 days later, so I put it in the fridge and worried(all that time) that it would get dense,…..but it didn’t!!!!! Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! !!!! Great recipe! This cake is moist and beautiful!!!! I’m having a piece for breakfast too! Lol Thanks so much for working so hard on this and all your delicious recipes!!!

    • Jen says:

      I am going to be making this tonight and will be doing so in a 9×13 pan as well. How long did you bake yours for?

      • Mel says:

        Jen – I haven’t made this in a 9X13 so I don’t have a lot of advice. Sorry!

      • Leah says:

        I made a 9*13 on Memorial Day. In my oven it baked for 30 minutes. I used made a chocolate frosting with:
        1 stick butter
        3 Tablespoon cocoa
        6 Tablesppon of cream or milk
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

        Mixed it all together over medium heat until the butter melted and then added 3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar. I poured it directly onto the still warm cake. It was so tasty!

  32. rmd says:

    Hi Mel, just a quick cupcake update since you haven’t tried this yet. I’ve made this cake a few times as it is now my current go to yellow cake (thanks again for that.) I baked it last week in a 16 square pan (two batches of batter) and it worked out beautifully for one of the layers of a Neapolitan cake. Today, I confidently made cupcakes….no changes to the recipe, but I didn’t get a good dome and they were not only flat, but strangely, mis-shapen when they cooled and also looked a bit oily on top like they might not be cooked, but they absolutely were cooked to a perfect cake temperature. The crumb is still perfect inside and the flavor remains insanely delicious, so they’re destined to become a trifle or something, but I wanted to let you know, that the cupcakes did not work well. In retrospect, I should have used your vanilla cupcake recipe instead. I’ll keep watching comments to see if anyone makes cupcakes and succeeds.

    • Mel says:

      rmd – thanks for reporting back! It sounds like cupcakes don’t work perfectly with this recipe (someone else commented with a similar experience). My guess is that the leavening needs to be adjusted for cupcakes to get a nice rise. I’ll definitely report back when I try them out. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  33. Niki says:

    I wanted to make sure I came back to report! I made this cake and when I tasted it on the first day, I wasn’t to sure about the texture. I waited until 1.5 days to taste it again, at room temperature and it was absolutely amazing!!!!!!!! I doubled the recipe for a 12 x 16 inch pan and baked it at 325 degrees. The only other change I made to the recipe was to add additional vanilla and also added butter flavoring, because I really like the flavor to pop. Thank you for sharing because I have replaced my original yellow cake recipe with this one!!!

  34. Hi Mel – Just wanted you to know I made your cake and posted about it today. It was phenomenal! Thank you so much for taking the time to test and perfect the recipe. It really is the best yellow cake I’ve ever had!

  35. Melissa says:

    I just made this for my sons bday party and it was AMAZING!! So worth the work. Very fluffy and full of flavor. I live in Spain, so this type of baking is not common here. The Spaniards couldn’t believe how fluffy it was! One lady said it was the best cake she ever tried. So fun! Thanks for making it so many times and perfecting it so that the rest of us can benefit from all your hard work. I read your blog but have never commented. You’re such an inspiration to me and I use many of your recipes. Thanks for such a great blog!!

  36. Aubrey says:

    Holy smokes. It is amazing that Mother Earth has the necessary elements to create something so divine. I didnt know a cake like this could be created. I served this cake as a pineapple upside down cake with whipping cream. Best I have ever had.. and everyone at my dinner party loved it. Mel I have to tell you that you are the only way I have been able to achieve any cooking success. After my third son was born over a year ago I resolved to use the next year to learn how to cook without any artificial color flavors or preservatives because of some health issues. My sister in law introduced me to you, and I am ever so grateful. AND I ALWAYS GIVE YOU THE CREDIT BY THE WAY;)

    • Mel says:

      Aubrey – that is brilliant to use this in a pineapple upside down cake. Love that idea (and will probably copy it!). Thanks so much for your sweet comment – you made my day!

  37. Wanda says:

    It was good, but not great. What would account for sponginess? I followed recipe to the letter.

  38. Jessica says:

    I’m making this for a birthday lunch on Friday and wanted to try it first before I served it to guests but TRUST ME I cannot have two double layer yellow cakes laying around. Does this recipe halve well? Could I make one cake round so I could possibly minimize my weight gain?

  39. Johannah says:

    I rarely, okay never, leave remarks on web sights. Mainly because I have to make changes to every recipe for my picky husband, but I had to on this. Yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting is his favorite, but he told me he only likes the box kind. I like to bake from scratch so I decided I was up to the challenge. His birthday was in May, and he is still talking about it. I had to break the news about the semi-sweet chocolate chips in your frosting, but he couldn’t tell. Thank you so much. I did have a question about where to find a good conversion chart since I purchased a scale and want to continue to use it. I also wanted to tell you that I have used a number of your recipes with excellent results and will look here first for recipes from now on.

    • Mel says:

      Johannah – Thanks so much. I’m so happy you loved this recipe and hope you enjoy others that you try. I don’t have a really great conversion chart but I think if you Google it you might be able to find one. Good luck!

  40. Lorie Hainsworth says:

    So sad…I made it EXACTLY according to instructions and the layers sank in the middle. : (

  41. Mary says:

    Hi Mel,
    What a wonderful cake! I made this cake for my sister’s 65th birthday luncheon. I bought salads & soup from this delicious restaurant that we all love but I wanted the cake homemade so I read many recipes and their remarks and chose yours. Mel, your cake is the best, moist flavorful. Thanks for the tips on baking soda & curdling look to the batter. I know raw eggs but even the batter was delicious! Thank you for this recipe I gave copies to all my four sisters & daughter. You are awesome!

  42. Kim says:

    Mel- could this recipe be converted to a white cake? Maybe 1 egg and 4 whites? Has anyone else tried this? I’m looking for a really good homemade white cake recipe.

    • Mel says:

      Kim – Hmmm, good question. But my inclination is to say no. White cakes are usually different structurally (flour amounts, etc). I’m on the quest to get a perfect white cake, too. Hopefully soon!

  43. Diana says:

    Have you tried this in a 9×13 pan? Do you recommend any adjustments to the recipe for a 9×13 pan? Thank you!!

    • Mel says:

      Diana – I made this the other day in a 9X13 inch pan (for a tres leches cake) and it worked just fine for me although I think I ended up baking it slightly longer.

  44. Marci says:

    Can you give me some make ahead tips? Like could I make the cake a couple days in advance, let sit at room temp covered and then frost the day of? Or would you do it differently? Also, is it better to use the hand mixer? I’ve always made cakes in the Bosch but I want to do this exactly how you did.

    • Mel says:

      Marci – I don’t use my Bosch for cakes because I like using a hand mixer to really get the bottom of the bowl cleaned and all the batter incorporated. If I were making this a couple of days in advance (more than the day before), I would wrap the baked and cooled layers in plastic wrap and slide them in a freezer ziploc bag and freeze them. If making the day before, I would bake, cool and frost that day and then cover well and keep it out at room temperature until serving the next day. You could also refrigerate the frosted covered cake but I’d take it out several hours before serving.

  45. Alejandra says:

    I discovered your web site a couple of weeks ago and I love it. Thanks for all the recipes.
    I want to bake this cake for my twins birthday which is tomorrow and I’m confused about the quantities the recipe calls for flour.
    The recipe says 2 1/4 cups of flour and next to this 9 ounces. Meaning 2 cups plus 1/4 cup?
    One cup is about 8 ounces so, is the total amount of flour 9 oz times 2?

  46. Alejandra says:

    Mel, do you use unbleached or bleached cake flour?

    • Mel says:

      Alejandra – I use bleached cake flour (I’ve never seen unbleached in my store). As for your other question about ounces, a measuring cup’s volume is 8 ounces but that doesn’t translate to the same weight. Cups of flour generally weigh anywhere from 4 to 5 ounces. If you have any other questions just let me know!

  47. Helen says:

    I leave in Africa,tried this cake but it sunk,help me and I didnot have cornstarch I used custard powder

    • Mel says:

      Helen – I don’t know what custard powder is but that might be the reason the cake sunk – it’s a technical recipe and so the results may not be the same if ingredients are substituted. I’m sorry it didn’t work out!

  48. Nita says:

    Wow! I made this cake for the third time and I still can’t get over how delicious it is! I made it in a 9×13 pan and it baked beautifully. I weighed everything and followed your instructions and it was perfect! Light ,fluffy ,and tasted so buttery. It was even delicious plain ,without any frosting.

  49. Vickie says:

    I want to substitute stevia for sugar..would you be able to give guide to do so in the perfect yellow cake recipe

    • Mel says:

      Hi Vickie – I’m sorry that I can’t help you; I haven’t tried this recipe with stevia and don’t use stevia enough to know how it would work here. Good luck if you try it!

  50. Ashley says:

    Mel! I have been baking homemade cakes for years! I have perfected all of my faves but always managed to steer clear of yellow cake. Yellow cake can be the driest, most flavorless cake in all the land. You my friend have INDEED PERFECTED THIS RECIPE. I cannot thank you enough for this amazing recipe! I almost cried when this cake came out of the oven because it was that moist. You can feel the moistnest before even tasting it. I had a request for a yellow cake with chocolate icing and this SAVED THE DAY! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU MEL. I know what it feels like to try recipe after recipe, alteration after alteration, trying to obtain the perfect recipe. You have truly outdone yourself!

    • Mel says:

      Your comment gave me goose bumps (I know, I’m a nerd), Ashley! Thank you for taking the time to let me know you loved this recipe!

  51. Michele Cooke says:

    I came across your recipe yesterday and your extensive research convinced me to give it a try. My husband requested a yellow cake for his birthday party. I hoped to find a recipe similar to the one my Mom used to make many years ago but of course her recipe is long gone. Well, the cake just came out of the oven and it looks beautiful!! Tomorrow I’ll make the chocolate frosting and no doubt it will be delicious as well as beautiful. Many, many thanks!

  52. Katie says:

    Curious if you or anyone has tried this as a marble cake or used it under fondant?

  53. Vanessa S says:

    I have to tell you…after 17years (and MANY birthdays with 6 children) I’ve found the homemade cake recipe that trumps the box mix – your Best Yellow Cake Recipe!!! Seriously, I made it 3 times last week – I’ve NEVER made 3 cakes in a week EVER. I’ve only not made it this week because I’m out of Cake Flour – but you even provided a solution for THAT! The best part for me is the “short cuts” to having to think ahead with room temp eggs and the milk/sr cream mixture. Awesome!!! BTY I actually did it with Buttermilk instead of sr. cream (I had it on hand because there was another cake recipe I was trying as well and what else do you do with buttermilk?) it was perfect. And I made it in a 9×13 pan all 3 times (reduce heat to 325 and bake 40-45 minutes – perfect!! Thank you so VERY much from the 8 of us! :)

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