Classic yellow cake with Spiced Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

After a brief hiatus, I’m back!  I’ve still been cooking and baking things as usual, but I got a bit lazy and started falling upon recipes I’ve already made before… my “go to recipes”, if you will (these include my blondies, cookies, pound cake, etc…).  But finally, I found a great occasion to try something new.  As my friend Jeena’s birthday started looming on the horizon, I was lucky enough to find a great cake recipes from the fantastic smitten kitchen blog.  This cake immediately attracted me because yellow cakes are so extremely versatile!  I’ve made two other types of yellow cakes before (one from the Cake Bible and one from some other blog), so I wanted to see how this recipe would compare.

I have to admit, I liked this cake more than the two other yellow cakes I made by hand.  Many boxed cake mixes are able to stay moist and fluffy because of added chemicals and preservatives… I’m unsure of the health implications (and heck, I sometimes use cake mixes if I’m running low on time), but there’s something to be said about making everything from scratch with simple, every day ingredients.  Many butter cakes have the problem of drying up if you mess up in the slightest (butter at the wrong temperature when creaming, overmixing the flour, baking too long, etc).  Indeed, some cakes are INTENDED to be dry, and require the extra brushing of syrup just to stay delectable (such as genoise cakes).  However, this cake recipe remained moist while staying away from any questionable mixings 🙂

New Yellow Cake recipe with Chocolate Sour Cream frosting

New Yellow Cake recipe with Chocolate Sour Cream frosting

The frosting was incredible as well!  This sour cream frosting was taken straight out of the Dessert Bible and is perfect for those who dislike overpowering frosting.  Some frosting have too much butter (buttercreams) or sugar (whipped cream/meringues), but this one somehow maintains a nice, creamy consistency while accentuating the chocolate flavor within.  You really should use the best quality chocolate you can for this, as the chocolate taste will be the most bold when you dig into this cake.  I used half Valrhona spiced chocolate and half Guittard (because I ran out of Valrhona) bittersweet chocolate, with a little extra ginger for kicks.  The espresso is optional, I didn’t use any.

I usually prefer to cut my cakes into 4 or 5 layers, but that’s really self-defeating for this cake.  You don’t want to be overpowered by the frosting or filling for this one, as the texture of the yellow cake is good enough on its own.  Thus, this is probably THE easiest layered cake I’ve ever made!

Best Yellow Cake

from The Smitten Kitchen


For the Cake:

  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken


1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

2.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.

3.  Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

yellow cake

yellow cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

adapted from The Dessert Bible


  • 15 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso (optional, but can be used to pick up the flavor of average chocolate)
  • 2 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.   Combine the chocolate and espresso powder, if using, in the top of a double-boiler or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave for 30 seconds, stirring well, and then heating in 15 second increments, stirring between each, until the chocolate is melted.) Remove from heat and let chocolate cool until tepid.

2.  Whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup and vanilla extract until combined. Add the tepid chocolate slowly and stir quickly until the mixture is uniform. Taste for sweetness, and if needed, add additional corn syrup in one tablespoon increments until desired level of sweetness is achieved.

Chocolate sour cream frosting

Chocolate sour cream frosting

3.  Let cool in the refrigerator until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Should the frosting become too thick or stiff, just leave it out until it softens again.



Birthday girl with her birthday desserts!

Birthday girl with her birthday desserts!


3 Responses to “Classic yellow cake with Spiced Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting”

  1. 1 shewiewoo!
    July 24, 2009 at 1:40 am

    you’re getting good at decorating! but why do you have baby wipes?

  2. July 24, 2009 at 9:44 am

    does the spiced chocolate taste different? or it’s just a name? i love yellow cake with chocolate frosting, so basic! btw, i think the cake mix that comes in a box adds pudding mix? not sure.

  3. 3 angrybaker
    July 25, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I started with one pack of some spiced chocolate I bought at Whole foods, then I spiced it with a bit of ginger to give it some extra kick because I thought it was slightly too plain without it. It definitely helped!

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