When it comes to comfort foods, I have a few favorites: pizza (specifically, buffalo chicken pizza – either homemade or delivery), brownies, and cake. Any cake will do. Really, I’m not that picky when it comes to cake. But what I’m totally in love with is classic yellow butter cake. Funnily enough, it’s usually Kyle’s #1 cake choice too (when I give him the option to choose, that is) so I’m usually in cake heaven when we make a layer cake.
And up until a few years ago, the boxed version of yellow butter cake was fine – great (!!), in fact; perfect cake every time with awesome flavor and a tender crumb. However, if you’ve been around these parts long enough, you’ll know that what really makes me most happy is baking from scratch. It’s been years since I’ve used a boxed mix for anything and in my humble opinion, baking from scratch is just as easy as and is cheaper, healthier (no preservatives or chemicals), and waaay more satisfying than opening a box.
And actually, if you get the random 7pm Wednesday (or Monday or Thursday) night whiny-man requests for cake like I do, you sure as heck don’t want to drive to the store for a box mix when you most likely already have all the ingredients for this cake in your pantry and fridge already, right? Right. Put simply, this yellow butter cake recipe rocks. It really is as perfect as any boxed mix out there – amazingly soft, yet sturdy, a wee bit tangy, and not at all greasy like some butter cakes can be. The rich and glossy-smooth chocolate frosting is worthy of its own post but because it’s Friday and you’ll want to make this cake STAT, I decided to post them together. So get your comfy pants out and your comfort food on this weekend (especially if you’re drowning on the East Coast like I am) and thank me later.
A note about the frosting: The original recipe calls for a mixture of cocoa powder and hot water to be added to the frosting; I skipped doing this on purpose. I thought the frosting, with its 1 lb of chocolate, was chocolaty enough and I didn't want to add the extra liquid, as Annie had noted that her frosting was a little on the runny side at first. We definitely didn't miss the extra cocoa here.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing pans
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
- 1 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 1 lb semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- To make the cake: Center one of the oven racks and preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans with butter. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper cut to fit the pan. Flour the sides of the pans, tapping out the excess flour; set the pans aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate before adding the next and scraping the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients, then all of the milk, then the remainder of the dry ingredients, mixing to just about fully incorporate each before adding the next. Scrape the bowl well to incorporate anything that may be stuck to the bottom of the bowl.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans (a kitchen scale works great for this). Smooth out the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cakes are a light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centers. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of pans and transfer the cakes to the wire rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the chocolate frosting: Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, taking care to not allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir the chocolate until all of the bits have melted. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to allow the chocolate to come to room temperature, about 25 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the chocolate incorporates into the butter mixture, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Once the cakes have cooled completely, frost and decorate as desired.