I think I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but I’m pretty much the only baker in my family. Growing up, whenever there was cause for cake (which was more often than it should have been), my mom would buy a box of classic yellow cake mix and create a perfectly moist and buttery cake from it. I have to say that being the homemade food-snob that I am, I make the exception for boxed yellow cake. Maybe it’s because I grew up eating the stuff, but I can’t help but say that boxed cake mix just creates the most deliciously light cake – better than any cake I’ve ever been able to make from scratch. Well, that is until now.
I’ve searched high and low to get a recipe for a homemade knock-off of the boxed classic yellow cake, but have always come up short. Finally, I came across Bakerella’s post on her successful recipe for homemade yellow cake, which she obtained from a professional baker. I was ecstatic, to say the least. Making this cake, it was the first time I ever used self-rising flour, and I think it’s part of the reason the cakes turn out so light and fluffy. I can’t be sure because baking is always a product of ratios, and you must have the right amount of structure, fat, and eggs to create the best results, but I definitely think it made a difference. In terms of taste-wise and getting this cake to taste so similarly to the boxed yellow cake (and even better, if I may dare say), I believe the imitation butter flavoring was the secret ingredient. You only use 1/2 a teaspoon of the stuff, but wow, what an effect!
The other amazing surprise was how easy it was to whip up the batter for this cake. Normally, there are so many rules about when to incorporate the egg yolks and then the egg whites, and not to mention the numerous times you’re usually told to sift the flour before you add it in. But that’s not the case with this cake. I created the batter for this cake in 10 minutes and baked it in 30. I used two 9-inch pans, but you could do three 8-inch pans too. Again, my cakes were perfectly done after 30 minutes, but be sure to check yours sooner since ovens vary. I also let my cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes before I removed them and wrapped them in plastic wrap to cool on a wire rack for about another hour (so that they were completely cool to frost). I kept the frosting light with a simple sweetened whipped cream frosting. I frosted in between the two layers, as well as all around and on top. I piped the frosting along the edges using my star tip and used some decorating sprinkles to add a little pop of color. I promise that you will love this cake and keep this recipe forever!
Classic Yellow Cake
- 1 c butter 2 sticks, softened
- 2 c sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3 c of self-rising flour
- 1 c milk whole or 2%
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp imitation butter flavor
for the whipped cream frosting
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1/4 c powdered sugar to taste
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease your pans and fit the bottom of each with a piece of parchment paper cut out to fit the circular pans.
In your mixer's bowl, beat butter and sugar for approximately 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in your eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
Add your flour and milk, alternating between the two (starting and ending with the flour). Add vanilla and butter flavoring just until they're mixed in.
Divide batter evenly among pans. Hold the pans 3 inches above your counter and drop them several times to ensure you release any air bubbles (this will help create more level cakes).
Bake cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, using a toothpick to poke in the center of the cake to check for readiness. When the toothpick comes out clean, cake is ready.
Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes, making sure to also use a sharp knife to run along the edges of the pans. Wrap each layer of cake in plastic wrap and place on wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the whipped cream frosting. Whisk the heavy whipping cream on high speed for one minute, or until soft peaks form. Stop and add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk the mixture on high speed again until stiff peaks form, about 1 more minute.
Once cakes have completely cooled, apply frosting using a frosting spatula and (optional) pastry bag.