Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Just pretend it's your birthday
61 Ratings
89% would make again
Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting Recipe
Photos: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table

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."

  • Make the chocolate frosting by creaming butter and sugar before folding in a cooled ganache of chocolate and sour cream.

  • Slice the tops off the cooled cakes to create an even surface.

  • Spread a little frosting on the cake stand to keep the cake in place.

  • Place the cake in the center of the stand, cut-side up.

  • Add 1¼ cups frosting over the cake.

  • Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting to evenly coat the first layer of cake.

  • Place the other layer of cake, cut-side down, over the frosting.

  • Add three-quarters of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake.

  • Frost the cake, working frosting over the top and down to the sides of the cake.

  • Use the remaining frosting to completely cover the cake.

  • Use a dish towel soaked in hot water to wipe the spatula clean and help smooth the top of the cake.

  • Once the top is smooth, move on to smooth the sides of the cake.

  • Once frosted, let the cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  • Decorate with sprinkles, then slice and serve.

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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.

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