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Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

A yellow cake with chocolate frosting on a cake stand with a stack of plates beside it.
This yellow cake with chocolate frosting is a nod to the ubiquitous 50s-era boxed cake mix and canned frosting yet relies on real, recognizable ingredients—including flour, butter, eggs, sugar, milk, and vanilla—that you probably already have on hand.
Kerry Diamond | Claudia Wu

Prep 40 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 5 hrs
12 servings
515 kcal


For the yellow cake

  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (5 oz) unsalted butter cut into pieces, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups cake flour plus more for the pan
  • 5 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk preferably whole, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the chocolate frosting

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup milk preferably whole, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature


Make the yellow cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Butter and flour two standard 8-inch (20-cm) round cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper cut to fit.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the vanilla.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed, mix the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk and mix until just moistened, about 15 seconds.
  • Add the butter and beat on medium speed until smooth and aerated, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg mixture in 3 batches, mixing on medium speed for 20 seconds and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans once during baking, until the cake springs back when gently pressed in the center or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Let the cake cool in the pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then run the spatula around the edges of the pans. Invert the cakes onto the wire rack and remove the pans and parchment paper. Let cool until you can handle them, about 20 minutes.
  • Gently turn the cakes again so they're right side up. Let cool completely, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before assembling.

Make the chocolate frosting

  • Place the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, with the bottom of the bowl close to, but not touching, the water. Wait until the chocolate melts.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
  • Add the melted chocolate, milk, and vanilla and mix until all the ingredients are combined, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix for about 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the butter and mix on medium-high speed until the frosting is light and free of lumps, 2 to 5 minutes. The frosting is best when used immediately.

Assemble the yellow cake with chocolate frosting

  • Place the cooled cakes on a flat, stable work surface. Using a long, serrated knife, slice off the rounded top of each cake so the top surface is perfectly level. Place 1 cake on a cake stand and frost the top of it. Stack the remaining layer on top and frost the top of it as well as the sides. Slice, serve, and devour.