Tender Yellow Cake

May 4, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: One of my quests has been to find a yellow cake recipe that I love. I have tried what seems like hundreds and although some are really good they were not exactly what I was looking for. I wanted the cake to be tender and light and moist. I was speaking to my Mother on the phone a few months ago, my Mom is an amazing cook and we always discuss food and recipes. I happened to mention my quest and she said she had a recipe for me to try. This recipe is from the 1950's and she made this cake for our family. I remember her cakes were always amazing I just attributed to my mothers culinary prowess. This is my Mom's recipe, she said it took a very long time to get it right and she sure did. It's of of the best yellow cakes I've tasted.
When I made this cake my search was over. Its light, tender and moist. Holds well with fruit filling as well as a buttercream and any way you make it its delicious. The cake is a combination of a yellow cake and a chiffon cake. It rises beautifully and is very simple to make.

Serves: 10-12
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 35 min


  • 3 large eggs separated and at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup whole milk (1 or 2% work also)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare two 9-inch round baking pans, butter bottoms and line with parchment rounds, butter again bottoms and sides and dust with flour.
  3. Beat egg whites until frothy then add 1/2 cup of the sugar (reserving the rest) a tablespoon at a time until egg whiles are stiff and glossy. Set aside.
  4. Sift flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt into large mixing bowl if you are using a hand held mixer or into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add the oil, milk, egg yolk and the vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed, mixture will be quite thick. I actually prefer to use a hand held mixer for this recipe.
  5. Fold in egg whites and distribute into the baking pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10-20 minutes in the pan then turn out onto cake rack to cool completely.

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Reviews (107) Questions (4)

107 Reviews

Jill T. July 8, 2018
I varied this recipe to make chocolate cup cakes - substituting some of the flour for good quality cocoa, and sank a chocolate piece in the middle. Turned out well.
Jill T. July 24, 2018
I think that I probably did the usual and took out 1 heaped tablespoon of flour and substituted it with a rich cocoa.
Vidya July 6, 2018
Love is cake. I made this 6 years ago and still remember how good it tasted. Can you recommend a light and not too sweet frosting that can go with this cake?
Suzanne S. July 6, 2018
<br />1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature<br /> 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar<br /> 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or heavy whipping cream<br /> 1 teaspoon vanilla extract<br /> pinch of salt adjust to taste<br /><br />Instructions<br /><br /> In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.<br /> Add in the powdered sugar and mix on low speed at first, then increase to medium speed and continue mixing for another 1-2 minutes until the mixture starts to come together.<br /> Add in the heavy cream (start with 2 tablespoons and add a little more if needed), vanilla extract, and salt and continue mixing on medium-high speed for another minute or until everything is well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. THE KEY IS TO LET THE FROSTING WHIP 5 MINUTES.
Vidya July 7, 2018
Thank you so much
Vidya July 7, 2018
Thank you
Annie C. June 20, 2018
Truly outstanding. I made this for my daughter’s birthday, and it was a crowd pleaser. For the first time ever, there was no cake left at the end of the party, so I may need to make it again next week!
Jill T. June 16, 2018
What a beautiful cake! This will be one of my go-to regulars. It is so tender and light. Can be eaten with cream, fruit, with just icing on top, etc etc. Thank you sdebrango
Susan June 8, 2018
Love this recipe - the cake turned out lovely, light and tender. Very versatile, but I find we're just eating it neat or with a couple of strawberries. Freezes very well too!
Sammy A. April 3, 2018
This has been my go-to cake recipe for a few years now! It's flavorful, light, tender, and moist. I love how versatile it is too- I can change the flavor with different fillings and frostings. Thank you for sharing!!
Debra December 27, 2017
I made this cake substituting Daonuts Flour (gluten/grain free) and added 1/4 tsp Expandex. I used hemp milk for dairy free along with a combination of Truvia and organic sugar to lower the glycemic. It was superb! Beautiful texture throughout, very firm so easy to handle. Thank You!
Debra December 28, 2017
Suzanne, such a lovely comment! I am the creator of Daonuts flour. It's patent pending because it attains all the texture variations of glutinous flours; better than wheat, better than gluten free. That said, everything you need to know about Sugar Alternatives, https://www.daonuts.com/sugar-alternatives.html. For Expandex, go here: https://www.daonuts.com/faq.html For Daonuts Flour, go here: https://www.daonuts.com/about-daonuts-flour.html
Debra December 28, 2017
Suzanne, I was just on your blog. I want to try the chocolate thumbprints. They look so inviting! I'm making your yellow cake recipe as cupcakes for a NYearsEve yoga event. It was soooo good; topping with chocolate buttercream again. Daonuts flour IS available for purchase on website. BUT I can send you some to play with, if you'd like to write something about your baking experience. Very, very new startup with very little $$'s trying to get the word out. BTW, I can totally relate to the transistion to a new oven. My GF bread was sinking in the middle for months. I tried everything to remedy but it turned out to be my old crappy oven. :D
Opa October 31, 2017
So I accidentally used lukewarm coconut oil and it solidified when the milk hit it. I tried to break it up and incorporate it the best I could....dare I bake it?
grace July 21, 2017
This cake also sank in the middle!
grace July 21, 2017
I tried this recipe and it was just okay. Tended to be drier when it cooled. Was moist, but not very flavorful and not very sweet. Is really too labor intensive to end up tasting like it did. I have a sponge cake recipe much more tender and light and easier! Won't try this again.
Frances B. July 2, 2017
Where's tee butter??
kim March 3, 2017
Okay to use 8-inch round pans for this?
Caroline N. July 31, 2016
Hello! I am making this cake for an upcoming party and its my first time making a layer cake. Perhaps this is super obvious but does this recipe split into 4 layers?
Jaclyn P. April 29, 2016
So I want to make this in a 13x9 pan, how long would you suggest cooking it? Also would this recipe hold up with the addition of mini chocolate chips ?
Jaclyn P. March 26, 2016
Can I substitute vanilla bean for the vanilla? It's all I have on hand
Veena B. March 3, 2016
Hi, Can this be used for carving and under fondant? Thanks in advance.
Veena B. March 3, 2016
I will use buttercream frosting (home made with hi ratio ) and layer with either fruit spread or buttercream frosting.<br /><br />I had one more question, is the oil 1/3 cup Plus 1 TBSP ?<br /><br />Thanks !!
Yianna February 15, 2016
Hi Suzanne, thank you so much for the recipe! I am planning to make this cake to serve on Saturday - do you think it would be okay if I bake this on Thursday, and split it into layers on Friday? Thanks so much!
Yianna February 15, 2016
I am planning to split + frost it on Friday, ready to serve on Saturday. I was also worried about the drying once split, but I am using a commercial buttercream (rich n' smooth) which I assume should be alright to prevent dryness. Thank you very much for the reply and I will let you know how it goes!
Yianna February 21, 2016
Hi Suzanne, I served the cake at around lunchtime on Saturday, and it was delicious! I think the buttercream helped in keeping it moist after I've split it into layers, perhaps in addition to the fact that I've used melted coconut oil instead of the canola oil. Not entirely sure whether this is why, but just wanted to say thanks again for the wonderful recipe!
Ann-Marie D. October 15, 2015
Has anyone adapted this for high altitude? I live in Bogota at 8,000 ft? Would love to see your recipe if you have! Thanks!
Ann-Marie D. October 15, 2015
Suzanne, thanks for reminding of the link. I´ve studied it before, but they´ve changed it and made it even more clear. Thanks. I´m going to try it right now via the chart suggestions on the King Arthur page that I´m aware of and report back! <br />
Ann-Marie D. October 15, 2015
The cake rose fine. My alterations for altitude: added one more yolk (to ensure moisture, instead of water), 1 tsp of baking powder instead of 3 tsp, made the milk into sour milk, 2 Tbsp more of flour, 2 Tbsp less sugar. 36 minutes in a 25 cm round pan - rose to 4-5 cm. Thanks!!!
Ann-Marie D. October 15, 2015
I am going to make another one today - and will try more baking powder, just to see if I can get a lighter less dense flavor.
Ann-Marie D. October 15, 2015
It´s just tricky, as if you put too much, it will collapse in the middle which has happened to me with other cakes. I´ll likely try 1.5. The rule is normally 1/4 of what you need at sea level, though the chart suggested a third when you´re dealing with 3 tsp. <br />
Ann-Marie D. October 15, 2015
Thanks - would love to hear. I just ate a slice with chocolate buttercream and it´s good. I think as it has that chiffon quality, I think I was hoping for a more moist cake. Ideally I´d like to rise a bit more and be more moist. Maybe add another egg yolk?
This cake does have a perfectly beautiful texture- light and moist. But I can just never get past the loss of flavor when cakes use oil instead of butter. I guess you just can't have it both ways. My knock-out delicious flavored all butter pound cake simply could never be described as light..... If you want the most perfect textured, light fluffy yellow cake, this is the best recipe I've found.
CarlaCooks June 17, 2015
I made these cakes today and replaced 1/3 of the flour with Rey flour. It worked perfectly, and the cake has a slightly heartier taste and mouthfeel. Thank you again for such a lovely recipe!
CarlaCooks June 17, 2015
Sorry, mean to type rye, not Rey.