Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Today I hosted the family for Father’s Day Sunday dinner.  I decided on an Italian theme so soon I’ll be posting recipes for the Chicken Parm and the Lasagne Bolognese, but let’s start with dessert.  I briefly considered continuing the theme and making zabaione with fresh blackberries.  Apparently zabaione is normally served warm so I wouldn’t have been able to do it ahead.  Cake it is.  Sometimes familiar is best.


I recently bought the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.  It’s fabulous.  I don’t know how I lived without it.  If you’re interested at all in baking you should have this book.  The cake and frosting recipes came from that volume.  I looked for both recipes online and found neither so I can’t reprint them here, but I’ll give you an idea of how these work.

The first thing you’ll notice about this yellow cake is that it’s more dense than a cake made from a box mix.  The denser texture also made it a little easier to frost without ending up with so many crumbs in the frosting.  It’s still light enough to make up as a layer cake without being overwhelming.  What makes this a yellow cake is all the eggs.  In a white cake you use just the whites.  In a yellow cake not only do you use whole eggs, you add a couple of additional yolks.  It’s a rich cake.  Perfect with ice cream.

What I really like about this cake is that I always have all the ingredients I need.  There’s no shortening in this.  There’s no cake flour. No strange extract.  Just flour, sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, milk, baking powder and salt.  The recipe does give you the option of using buttermilk or plain yogurt, but you can use regular milk if that’s what you have.  I used 1C milk and 1/2 C plain Greek yogurt.

I don’t have a lot of cake baking tips, but my favorite is the dropping of the pans.  This doesn’t work as well if you bake in glass pans, but it’s terrific with the metal ones.  Once you’ve poured the batter into the pans lift the pan by the sides and drop in onto the counter from 4-5 inches up.  This settles the batter and makes sure that it’s evenly spread in the pan.

The buttercream is an “easy” buttercream.  Traditional buttercream is a cooking frosting based on meringue.  This one is just butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, cream and chocolate.  A few tips.  Plan far enough ahead to soften your butter on the counter.  If you try to do it in the microwave you’ll inevitably have a certain amount of melted butter which isn’t what you want.  Don’t skip the sifting of the sugar.  If you do you’ll have lumpy frosty.  Don’t substitute chocolate chips for baking chocolate.  The chips have parafin in them so that they keep their shape.  You want your frosting to be smooth and creamy.  No parafin needed. 

I made the cake and the frosting a day ahead.  I wrapped each cooled cake layer in plastic wrap and left it on the counter overnight.  I put the buttercream in a plastic container and put it in the fridge for the night.  Just know that if you do that it will harden.  That’s okay.  Just set the container on the counter for a few hours and it will return to the lovely creamy consistency that it was when you first made it.

When you frost do the top side of the bottom layer first.  For the outside of the cake some folks put a thin layer of frosting all the way around to trap any crumbs.    I generally just divide the remaining frosting into 4 blobs and put them on top of the cake so that they’re easy to spread over the side.  That seems to work pretty well.  Of course you can make this as a sheet cake too and make life a little easier on yourself.

I served this cake with chocolate ice cream from Homestead Creamery and some whipped cream that I made with cream, sugar and a little chocolate liqueur.

Good? Dude, it’s cake.
Easy? A sheet cake gets an “easy.” A layer cake gets an intermediate.
Good for company? It’s a lot of cake. Company would be good.
Special shopping? Nope.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: