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This is the BEST Basic Yellow Cake Recipe! It’s perfect for a layer cake, a sheet cake or cupcakes! This easy cake recipe is homemade – you’ll never need to buy a box cake mix again. If you’re looking for a classic yellow cake recipe, you’ve found it!
Table of Contents
- Best Yellow Cake Recipe for cake or cupcakes!
- What is Yellow Cake Flavor?
- Expert Tips: What makes a cake more moist?
- What you need to make Yellow Cake
- How to make Yellow Cake
- Make Cupcakes with This Cake Recipe
- Pan Size Equivalents
- Frosting Choices
- FAQ about my Yellow Cake Recipe
- Basic Yellow Cake Recipe Recipe
- Reader Favorite Cake Recipes
Best Yellow Cake Recipe for cake or cupcakes!
Have you ever wanted to find a recipe for cake that also works for cupcakes? Well, look no further, because this is it!
I got so tired of trying to find a yellow cake that was an all-purpose cake recipe, that I decided to create my own.
If you guys remember, I have a perfect vanilla cupcake recipe and a perfect yellow cake recipe on this blog. BUT! I wanted to come up with one that would work for both. I needed a recipe that was moist, light and airy, and wouldn’t make me miss my good old standby, the box mix.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Since the basic yellow cake recipe was derived from the cupcake recipe, I started there and managed to come up with a cake recipe that makes a 9-inch layer cake, 24 cupcakes, or a sheet cake…all in one simple recipe!
- This recipe is moist yet sturdy (it can hold up to stacking), fluffy and sweet, and tastes just like a yellow or white cake should. If I’m being honest, white cake and yellow cupcakes are my favorite cake. I’m a vanilla girl at heart!
- If you’re ready to ditch your box cake mix, then print out this recipe. It’s the only one you need from now on, I promise! This is the perfect cake to make with vanilla buttercream frosting.
What is Yellow Cake Flavor?
If you’ve ever wondered what the flavor of yellow cake is, it’s basically vanilla. This is a Basic Yellow Cake Recipe, and I call it yellow instead of vanilla because most people think of yellow cake when they think of a box mix.
What makes it yellow are the butter and eggs. The flavor comes from the butter and the vanilla extract. You can use plain vanilla extract or use vanilla bean paste, which I love.
What you need to make Yellow Cake
- Melted Butter: Instead of softened, I use melted butter. I find it keeps the cake moister than with softened butter, and it has more flavor than oil.
- Sugar: For sweetness – just granulated sugar.
- Eggs: Eggs give the cake structure and the fat in the yolk keeps the cake moist (and gives it the telltale yellow color).
- Vanilla: For flavor. For even more flavor use vanilla bean paste!
- Baking Powder: Helps the cake rise and be nice and fluffy.
- Buttermilk: I use buttermilk to add a little extra flavor, plus the tang from the buttermilk keeps the cake moist.
- All-Purpose Flour: You’ll notice this recipe has all-purpose flour, not cake flour. I prefer that because it’s easy to come by. Everyone has all-purpose flour in their pantry; not everyone has cake flour.
The main difference between cake flour and all-purpose is protein content: cake flour has about 8% and all-purpose is slightly higher. This makes for a bit denser of a cake (hence the extra baking powder and buttermilk in my recipe). You can learn all about cake flour here.
How to make Yellow Cake
- Add sugar to melted butter in a large bowl. Mix until smooth.
- Add an egg and mix.
- Continue mixing, adding eggs one at a time.
- Add baking powder, salt and vanilla, then mix.
- Add flour and buttermilk in alternate additions, mixing in between.
- Don’t over mix! Add your batter to your desired pan and bake.
Make Cupcakes with This Cake Recipe
Vanilla cupcakes are perfect for every occasion, because you can dress them up with pretty sprinkles, or chocolate frosting, or any kind of frosting you like. Yellow cake is a blank slate for sprinkles (like funfetti cake), for peanut butter filling, or to make into Twix Cupcakes or anything like that.
I love that this recipe makes perfect number of cupcakes – 24 yellow cupcakes – in case I decide I don’t want a layer cake.
FAQ about my Yellow Cake Recipe
Yellow cake uses whole eggs, while white cake uses just egg whites. The egg yolks add a richness and color to the batter of a yellow cake recipe.
If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t worry. You can make this cake with ANY kind of milk, as long as you add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the batter. However, I recommend using whole milk or full fat non-dairy milk – the more fat in the liquid the better the cake.
You can substitute vegetable oil for the melted butter. This makes it easy to make dairy-free. I recommend adding a bit of butter extract for flavor, but it’s not required.
I have substituted Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF All-Purpose flour in this cake with success.
Basic Yellow Cake Recipe
For the Cake:
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 ½ cups (310g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups (297g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups (296) ml buttermilk
For the frosting:
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups (452g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) heavy whipping cream
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake pans with liners or grease and flour cake pan(s).
- Whisk salt, baking powder, and flour in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer, cream sugar into melted butter until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then mix in vanilla extract.
- Add dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour, mixing gently between each addition. Mix until just combined. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Pour batter into prepared pans and bake as directed. Cool completely before removing and frosting.
- Bake Time: 24 cupcakes: 14-17 minutes // Two 9-inch round pans: 24-27 minutes // Two 8-inch round pans: 25-33 minutes // 9×13-inch pan: 30-40 minutes
For the frosting:
- Beat butter until smooth with a hand or a stand mixer. Note: if you’re using a hand mixer be sure to use a very large bowl to avoid wearing the powdered sugar.
- Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on medium speed until crumbly. Mix in salt and vanilla.
- Add 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream at a time, mixing between each addition, until the frosting is smooth and the desirable consistency.
- Frost cake or cupcakes as desired.
- You can use a 9×13-inch pan, two 8-inch or 9-inch rounds, or make 24 cupcakes.
- This is also great with chocolate frosting!
- Store cake on counter for up to 3 days. Cake can be frozen (with or without frosting) for up to 2 months. Be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap or an airtight container.
Reader Favorite Cake Recipes
A Basic Yellow Cake Recipe is perfect to make both cake and cupcakes and is better than a box mix!
Last Updated on June 22, 2023