Best Butter Cake Recipe

Best (EVER) Yellow Cake Recipe (HONEST!)

Everyone needs a GREAT yellow cake recipe in their recipe box and THIS IS IT! Flavorful and moist but also sturdy enough to be layered, stacked and filled!

I’m usually known for having yummy fresh-baked treats around when people come over.  If someone needs a cake for an occasion, they give me a call.  I’ve tested and tweaked and developed recipes until I am POSITIVE that the flavor and texture of the finished product will be to my liking (and hopefully everyone elses’!)

But when it comes to a basic yellow cake recipe, I have never been able to achieve what I wanted – a cake that tastes like a box mix.  Now, I know!  The big debate between box mix versus scratch rages on!  I normally bake from scratch but let’s face it, it is tough to beat the texture and flavor from a good ‘ole Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker box! Plus, they are so darn fast to throw together!

I have realized, though, that scratch cakes don’t take much longer to make and you have complete control over the outcome – which can be either a good or a bad thing!  I mean, if I measure an ingredient wrong or leave one out because the kids distract me, the recipe could be a complete failure.

But playing with the ingredients and ratios and all the other variables has become fun for me.  If something doesn’t turn out, I grab my notes, make some alterations and try again. And, let me tell ya’, there have been lots of do-overs with my yellow cake recipes!  I have tried multiple recipes from cookbooks, Pinterest, blogs, etc.  And I have heard my frustration echoed in other bakers’ pleas for the perfect yellow cake!

I KNOW it’s out there!

I know it exists.  The perfect recipe is out there.  I thought that maybe I was doing something wrong – mixing too much, not creaming long enough, the wrong choice of flour, ingredients not at room temperature because, let’s face it, I’m not known for my patience!

Obviously, others had achieved their desired outcome or these recipes wouldn’t be printed in books or posted on blogs.  But when I tried them, I either ended up with an average cake or something that was not good at all!  Usually, it is the texture that is off for me.  I want soft, tender, moist (yes, I used the ‘M’ word!), and buttery.

I started my morning yesterday with yet another yellow cake recipe – this one from a book that has given me some other very tasty treats!  But the recipe called for 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yokes plus 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, all-purpose flour and 1 stick of butter.  Now, these cupcakes had a good flavor and my hubby and kids will not let them go to waste!  I’m sure of it! 

The best yellow cake recipe!

How to bake yellow cake from scratch

But to me, they were too egg-y and dense.  So I switched out the all-purpose flour for cake flour.  (I don’t always have cake flour on hand but I can make my own  if needed – I will test that out with this recipe later and update this post with the results!).  Increasing the sugar added a bit more tenderness, and increasing the butter gave the cake a very buttery flavor. I also changed out the buttermilk for some sour cream and added almond extract because I just love the flavor it adds to a cake!  The last change was to the eggs – I changed out the 2 eggs + 4 yolks for 3 eggs, straight up.

So, yeah.  A completely new recipe.  I checked out the ratios and was pretty sure I would end up with a rich cake but one that would set.  So I baked off a batch and, BOOM, perfection!

One of the really important changes that I made was in the mixing.  I combined the wet ingredients in a stand mixer but made sure to only mix in the dry ingredients until JUST mixed.  By mixing long enough that there was no dry flour visible but ONLY until it was mixed in, the cake stays tender.  I think reducing the eggs and mixing very gently were both key.  Mixing too much would activate the gluten and make the end result much tougher.  By using cake flour instead of all-purpose, the protein content is reduced and, mixing gently keeps the gluten from developing.

So I believe that this is now my go-to yellow cake recipe!  I made cupcakes this time.  This cake would be a great base for so many fillings and toppings.

If you liked this recipe, then you will love these!

Best (EVER) Yellow Cupcakes (HONEST!)

Recipe by Tanya Ott
Servings

24

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

18

minutes

Ingredients

  • 170 grams (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 300 grams (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

  • 300 mL (1 1/4 cups) sour cream OR plain greek yogurt, at room temperature

  • 312 grams (2 1/2 cups) cake flour, sifted

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Your choice of frostings and fillings

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line cupcake tin with paper baking cups. 
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. (Don’t take a short cut here – actually sift these together – twice if you can!)
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about  3 minutes.
  • Add the extracts, if using. Set the mixer on low speed and add one egg at a time, mixing between each addition until incorporated.
  • Mix on low until incorporated then turn up to medium for 1 minute.
  • Add 1/3 of the sifted flour mixture to the mixer and mix on medium-low until the dry flour is incorporated. Add 1/2 of the sour cream and mix just until incorporated. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining sour cream and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix just until no streaks of dry ingredients can be seen.
  • Scoop about 1/4 cup batter with an ice cream scoop or measuring cup into prepared muffin tin. I like to use a scoop with a thumb release lever to ensure the same amount of batter is in each cup. Each cupcake liner should be about 3/4 full.
  • Bake at 350° for 16 to 18 minutes or until cupcake springs back when lightly touched. Allow to cool in the pan for 3 to 4 minutes then remove to a cooling rack. Add your favorite frosting once the cupcakes are completely cool.

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