Everyone has a favorite birthday cake, but in our opinion, one that's hard to argue with is yellow cake with chocolate frosting. So we've developed a recipe that embodies everything we love about boxed cake mix in a beautiful, made-from-scratch layer cake. Consider it a carte blanche to go crazy with sprinkles and candles, even if it isn't your birthday.
If you aren't very confident in your cake-building skills, here's a tip: Start at the top with the frosting and work it over the sides to cover the cake. Use a bench scraper to even out the frosting, and then take an offset spatula wiped with a warm, wet rag to smooth the edges for a perfectly polished look. And just remember, you can never have too many sprinkles.
To learn more, read "Culinary Institute: Birthday Cake."
Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, plus cooling time
For the Cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon dry milk powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
8 (½ cup) egg yolks
1¼ cups buttermilk
For the Frosting:
1 cup (6 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup sour cream
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups confectioners' sugar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and dust each with flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, milk and baking powders, salt and baking soda.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. With the motor running, add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the dry ingredients in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, to form a smooth, thick batter.
3. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans, using an offset spatula to smooth the tops. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting on a wire rack and letting them cool completely. Trim ¼ inch off the top of each cake to make a flat surface.
4. Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a heatproof, microwavable bowl, combine the milk and semisweet chocolate chips. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Stir in the sour cream and let cool completely.
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the remaining frosting ingredients and cream until light and fluffy. Then add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix to incorporate.
6. Place 1 cake, cut-side up, on a cake stand. Spread 1¼ cups of frosting over the surface of the cake. Place the other cake, cut-side down, on top. Using a bench scraper and a large offset spatula to smooth the edges, cover the cake completely with the remaining frosting. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature, then slice and serve.