Make Ahead

Yellow Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting.

November 25, 2009
4 Ratings
  • Serves 10
Author Notes

This is a wonderful basic yellow cake from my great friend, Kathleen. Once you've had this cake, it will become your go-to birthday cake. It's easy and it's likely you have all the ingredients in your house, which means you can make it quickly upon discovering at noon one of your dinner guests is celebrating a birthday. —MrsWheelbarrow

What You'll Need
  • Yellow Cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • Chocolate Frosting
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2-4 ounces melted chocolate
  • 2/3 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk, as needed to achieve consistency
  1. Yellow Cake
  2. Preheat oven to 325
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Stir in sugar
  5. Add butter, milk and vanilla. Beat at low speed for 30 sec., then at medium speed for 2 minutes, then beat in eggs for 2 min.
  6. Divide batter into two 8" round pans, buttered and floured.
  7. Bake 30-35 min. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert and allow to cool completely.
  1. Chocolate Frosting
  2. Beat together all the ingredients and frost immediately. The frosting will set up in a few minutes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lynn Wainess
    Lynn Wainess
  • JenniferF
  • BavarianCook
  • QueenOfGreen
  • WinnieAb
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17 Reviews

Adrian W. February 10, 2017
Oh, what a huge disappointment! I wish I had read the reviews prior to making this icing. Instructions unclear as others noted and as I briefly suspected, and should have trusted my own instincts, 4 cups of sugar to 2-4oz of chocolate made a very pale , unattractive frosting that tasted only of sugar. Added more chocolate 2 or 3 times and it still looks ugly and tastes so so.
We haven't yet cut the cake for my son's birthday but I am afraid the cake won't be much better. Looks heavy, dense. Will let you know if otherwise!
la C. November 5, 2016
I don't know why I'm the only one who thinks the instructions as written make no sense. I went against instinct with the first batch and threw out the batter halway through because it was a clumpy mess. With the next batch I did things the way I'm used to: beat butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla, alternate adding milk and dry ingredients. The batter turned out as it should. It made 18 cupcakes that baked in 20 mins on convection setting. They were delicious. Thanks for the recipe.
Jessica36 March 25, 2014
Would this recipe work for cupcakes as well?
MrsWheelbarrow March 25, 2014
Yes, it works perfectly!
Lynn W. February 3, 2013
Ok. Great start. Now, semi sweet or unsweetened chocolate? I used semi sweet and I think unsweetened would have been better. Chef?
MrsWheelbarrow March 25, 2014
I prefer bittersweet, but semi sweet is what my friend uses. She like sweeter foods than I do.
Lynn W. February 3, 2013
I just made this cake and the icing did not turn out. First, the recipe does not me ton that you should melt the chocolate with the butter. I figured that out after trying to whip everything together including room temp butter. Also, there is no mention of what kind of chocolate. I used semi-sweet (70%) and the c
Icing was too sweet. Probably best with unsweetened chocolate. Anyone else have these problems?
This is my favorite cake (we call it bumblebee cake in sf) and I will try it again with those adjustments.
MrsWheelbarrow February 3, 2013
You're absolutely right.
Beat room temperature butter into the powdered sugar until you have a smooth frosting. Beat in the melted chocolate, vanilla and as much milk as you need to achieve frosting consistency. Then, frost the cake.
JenniferF October 7, 2012
P.S. I also wondered if you'd ever added citrus zest? I couldn't help thinking that it would make for a fantastic lemon cake with plain cream cheese frosting!
MrsWheelbarrow October 7, 2012
So glad you enjoyed it. I think it would be divine with a lemon zest tang!
JenniferF October 7, 2012
I made this cake for my daughter's birthday Friday night with a chocolate cream cheese frosting. (I do think it would have been better with your frosting or any that was much fudgier.) A very good cake! Almost has a pound cake quality to it. I will definitely use this as a go-to yellow cake. BTW, Hello again, MrsW! We met at Jen and Ed's house last spring!
BavarianCook March 10, 2012
Thank you, MrsW! This was the right thing for a friend who insisted on yellow cake with chocolate frosting for a birthday cake. The yellow cake is actually quite tasty and I think I will use that recipe again as a base for a rolled up cake. For that I would spread out the batter on a baking sheet and roll it up with a fruit and whipped cream filling. Thanks again!
MrsWheelbarrow March 11, 2012
So glad you enjoyed it,
QueenOfGreen January 24, 2011
Thank you for this! It was 8:54pm, and the grocery store was going to close in 6 minutes, and I was responsible for the office birthday party the next day - thankfully this used all ingredients already on hand!
WinnieAb November 25, 2009
It's not me who's insane, it's my daughter...she does not like chocolate frosting...
WinnieAb November 25, 2009
I just found out I need to make a cake for one of my Thanksgiving guests so this is perfect! Do you have a favorite white frosting too?
MrsWheelbarrow November 25, 2009
I've never imagined a birthday cake without chocolate frosting! :) But if you insist, I would omit the chocolate, add more vanilla, or even, almond extract. Or, take a different route and add some citrus zest & juice instead of the milk.