Yellow cake with chocolate icing. Such a simple concept, yet I always find it incredibly hard to execute up to my expectations. I would say about half of the people I know consider yellow cake with chocolate icing their all time favorite cake. Maybe it reminds everyone of childhood. I think of delicious yellow Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines cupcakes with chocolate icing and sprinkles being brought to school for birthdays. It's just too darn hard to beat. With yellow cake, boxed is better more often than not (though I do like to add sour cream to the boxed version to jazz it up a notch).

I always find something wrong with the homemade versions. This is the best I've made yet. Shirley O. Corriher's fantastic, well-known book BakeWise is to thank for it. She offers three different ways to make the cake. I didn't have buttermilk, which was required in the others, so I made the "Dissolved Sugar" method. I highly recommend buying this book. She was a biochemist, so she breaks down recipes scientifically to explain why they work and what each ingredient does. This is without a doubt the only science I have ever been interested in. What can I say, I'm an advertising and anthropology's just not a pre-req.

I think the cake got even better after the icing had cooled and settled. I tend to think sour cream-based icing is much stronger at first, and not always in a good way. But then it seems to become milder as it cools. Maybe that's just me. I may try it with a buttercream next time, but this icing was fantastic.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! If you have any great yellow cake recipes with high success rates, or perfect chocolate icings (can you ever have too many of those?) I'd love to try those out as well!

Magnificent Moist Golden Cake
Recipe from Shirley O. Corriher's BakeWise

Makes 2-3 9-inch cake layers or two dozen cupcakes
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup buttermilk, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan or two (or three) 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and dust them with flour, or line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners for cupcakes.

In a large measuring cup or similar vessel, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk and vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of your standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat in the butter, oil, and remaining buttermilk on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened, then crank it up to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add one third of the egg mixture, and beat for about 20 seconds, and scrape the bowl again. Repeat two more times until all the egg mixture is incorporated and the batter is smooth.

In a cold bowl with cold beaters, whip the cream to just beyond soft peaks. Stir a quarter of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining cream.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 2/3 full for cupcakes). Drop the pans onto the counter from a height of about 4 inches to knock out air bubbles. Bake until the center of the cake springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean but moist–about 40 minutes for one thick layer, 25-30 minutes for individual layers, and 17-20 minutes for cupcakes (checking progress early and often).

Do not overbake. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Lucious, Creamy Chocolate Icing 
Recipe from Shirley O. Corriher's BakeWise

(she sure does like descriptive titles!) 

12 ounces milk chocolate, cut into medium pieces
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into medium pieces
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups sour cream

1. Place both chocolates in a food processor with the steel blade. Use quick on/offs to finely chop, or alternatively finely chop the chocolate with a sharp knife. (The whole point of her book is to emphasize why little things are important, she has a reason for chopping it up, but my food processor is at my parents house so I skipped this step. Whoops!) Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds. Stop and remove it from the microwave when most of the chocolate is melted. Continue to stir until all of the chocolate is melted and smooth.
2. In a mixing bow, stir together the brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and corn syrup. Stir in the sour cream with 1 or 2 strokes only. Add the melted chocolate. Beat on low until very smooth. It will be beautiful. If it is too thin, allow it to stand for an hour or so at room temperature until slightly thickened. Use about 1/4-inch later of icing between the cake layers.

**Addition: the bf was upset because this cake disappeared so quickly around my house that I never got to bring him any. I guess I was feeling nice, because I made him another one two days after this one (yes, it disappeared that quickly). It was EVEN BETTER. I am quite confident that this is the best yellow cake I will make for quite some time.


Live a Sweet Life said... @ April 6, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Thanks for the recipe! I find I have a difficult time with these 'simple concept' cakes myself. Keep up the great blog!

Sarah said... @ April 29, 2012 at 7:15 PM

Thank you! It's funny how that happens. I have no problem with an overly complicated and unusually flavored cake. The problem is, no one else after asks for those. Hopefully this cake will solve your yellow cake dilemmas as well!

Mercedes said... @ May 19, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Wow, this cake looks so perfect!

Anonymous said... @ June 12, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Hi there, can this chocolate frosting be used for piping on cupcakes?

Amy said... @ August 11, 2012 at 12:03 PM

I think there might be an error in the bake time. I have never seen a 9 in round bake for 40 minutes. I just made them and pulled them at 26 because I smelled them burning! My oven temp is accurate and I followed the directions to a T!

Anonymous said... @ April 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Thanks for this amazing recipe! It was a big hit for my husband's birthday (and so were the leftovers for coworkers)!

One note on cooking time: I split the batter between two 9"x1" round pans, and baked for ~18 mins, which worked out great.

Sarah said... @ April 24, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Thanks for the notes on cooking time! The original recipe actually calls for the cake to be baked in one 9-inch round and sliced into two or three layers. This is why the cooking time is 40 minutes. My guess is that a lot of people will probably split the amount into two 9-inch pans (like you did, Amy!). This avoids the hassle of slicing the cake. For two pans, 40 minutes is definitely too long in the oven. I'm glad you mentioned this as a point of confusion. I will update the recipe to explain some other options for baking time.

Unknown said... @ May 26, 2014 at 4:57 AM

wow......I also love the colors in your cake. it looks so sweet and yummy!I would like to make these tonight!They look absolutely delicious! I just made your cranberry pistachio bark for gifts!Thanks for sharing.
hazelnut cake

Unknown said... @ May 19, 2016 at 8:23 AM

Do you know if this frosting needs refrigeration or not?

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