This classic yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting is a tender and buttery cake that’s covered with a rich, creamy chocolate fudge frosting.
A homemade yellow cake with chocolate icing is one of those classic family favorites. Maybe you remember back to a time when your mom would have one of these cakes ready and on the counter when you came home from school.
This cake is a scratch cake, but it’s actually very easy to make. It’s one of those cakes you’ll turn to when you want a winner dessert every time. And the fudge frosting is the best chocolate frosting you’ll ever taste.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
It just doesn’t get much better than an old-fashioned yellow cake with chocolate frosting, especially when you add sprinkles on top.
Kids and adults alike will love this cake. It’s really one of the best yellow cakes I’ve tasted. It’s got hints of vanilla and lots of chocolate flavor in the buttercream in addition to the rich yellow and buttery cake. It’s just the perfect birthday cake.
This cake is a traditional yellow cake and it calls for extra egg yolks which makes it rich and helps to give it that yellow cake look. It’s also a butter cake but still manages to stay very moist.
Let’s talk about some of the ingredients that are in this moist yellow cake with chocolate frosting
Cake flour: This cake recipe does use cake flour. Theoretically, you can use all-purpose flour with a few changes. You can go to this link to get some common substitutions: Printable Baking Measurement & Substitution Cheat Sheet Post
I really like using the cake flour though because it really makes a difference in the cake texture…it just makes it very delicate and soft, so if you can get it, use cake flour for this one.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk gives this cake a wonderfully soft texture plus a bit of flavor. Don’t worry though, the cake will not taste like buttermilk.
I always encourage people to use real buttermilk as it really does make a difference, but if you can’t get it, make sure to check out the FAQ section of this post further down for a substitution. It won’t be the same, but it will work in a pinch.
Unsalted Butter and Oil: This recipe calls for both. The butter gives a lot of flavor to the cake and the oil adds amps up the moisture. Unsalted butter is best here so that the cake doesn’t become too salty.
Eggs and extra egg yolks: Eggs give structure to cakes and adding extra egg yolks is what makes this cake rich and a classic yellow cake.
Unsalted butter, cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar and more: These will be the ingredients to make the fudge frosting. It does call for quite a bit of cocoa powder, but that’s what makes it a rich and cream chocolaty frosting.
How to Make this Cake:
Let’s talk about how to make a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. (The prinable instructions are in the recipe card below.)
First, you want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and make sure to grease and flour two, 8-inch round cake pans.
In one bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix well, then in another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix that well.
Now take a large mixing bowl and cream the butter and sugar together really well until light and fluffy. Then add the whole eggs in one at a time, mixing between additions, and add the egg yolks in and mix again.
Now alternately add in the dry and liquid ingredients beginning and ending with the dry. Try only to mix until the ingredients are just combined.
After everything is mixed, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again only for about 10 seconds at that point.
Pour the batter into the two prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 35 minutes.
Cool the cake layers, still in the pans, on a rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out and let them cool completely before adding the frosting.
To make the frosting, you’ll melt the butter and cocoa over low-medium heat. Then add the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add three cups of confectioners sugar plus about ¼ cup of milk and the salt and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined.
Add the last three cups of confectioners sugar plus the rest of the milk and vanilla and mix on medium. Adjust the consistency by adding in more milk if needed.
Tips & FAQs:
Yellow cake has a hint of vanilla plus a nice buttery taste and it’s much richer than just a plain white or vanilla cake because of the added egg yolks.
In my opinion, the extra egg yolks, butter and buttermilk really make this yellow cake stand out.
Yellow cake is actually more yellow in color than your average vanilla cake and that’s because there’s added butter and extra egg yolks.
Cake flour is best as it will make for a really soft cake, but if you can’t get it, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour, but you must make some changes.
To use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour use this substitute: For every 1 cup of cake flour that the recipe calls for, use 1 cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of it and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
You do not want to substitute all-purpose flour, cup-for-cup, with cake flour. The cake may turn out dry if you do.
Make sure not to pack the cake flour down into the measuring cup when you’re measuring. Take a spoon and use that to add the flour to the measuring cup, then level off the top. If you scoop the flour with your measuring cup, it will pack the flour down into the cup and end up adding too much, which will make the cake dry.
It’s really best if you can use real buttermilk as it makes for a softer texture and really helps give the cake flavor. If you can’t get it, you can substitute with this sour milk recipe:
For every one cup of buttermilk called for, fill a measuring cup with 1 cup of regular milk, take out 1 tablespoon and replace it with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar and stir well. Let sit for five minutes, then it’s ready to use.
This will not work exactly the same as buttermilk but can work in a pinch.
No, it’s really best to use real butter for both the cake and the frosting.
Unsalted is always best because you can estimate the proper amount of salt that will be added plus salted butter has a different water content than unsalted. However, if you’re unable to get unsalted butter, you can use salted in the cake and the buttercream, but omit the additional salt that each recipe calls for.
You can cover and refrigerate them to make meringue, an egg white omelet or any other recipe that calls for them.
Be super careful not to mix the batter too long. Scratch cakes should not be mixed for minutes at a time, or they will become dense. You can stop mixing once the ingredients are well incorporated.
This cake is done baking when a toothpick inserted into the center of each layer comes out with a few moist crumbs on it or clean, but no raw batter.
Yes it does and it really makes a difference, so try not to skimp on the amount. If you want a true chocolate fudge frosting, add the full amount.
Use regular natural unsweetened cocoa powder.
This frosting has a tendency to thicken up if not used right away. If that happens, you can just add a bit more milk (only about a tablespoon at a time) and mix until the desired consistency is reached.
You can also microwave it on 50% power for a few seconds at a time, but you don’t want it too warm when spreading it onto the cake.
This cake can be made ahead of time and frozen if desired. Let the baked cake cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and foil and place in the freezer for up to a month.
To thaw, place the wrapped cake on the counter at room temperature and let thaw completely, then remove the wrapping. Once defrosted, add the glaze.
I have not tested this recipe out as cupcakes, but it should work just fine. Fill 2 cupcake pans (24 cupcakes) with cupcake liners and fill with batter about ⅔ of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees F and start checking for doneness at around 20-25 minutes.
For baking in a 13×9 inch pan, you do not need to adjust any of the ingredients or the temperature. The baking time should be almost the same. You can start checking it about 5-10 minutes early to be safe.
This cake can be stored covered well at room temperature for a day or two, but to prolong freshness, store it covered well in the fridge for up to 4 more days.
This cake is best served at room temperature. If it’s been stored in the refrigerator, make sure to set it out for about 20-30 minutes or so for it to come closer to room temperature. This cake is a butter cake and tends to firm up when cold, so it needs to sit out for a bit before serving.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Two, 8-inch round cake pans
- Stand mixer or an electric hand mixer
- Mixing bowls
- Silicone spatulas
- Colling rack
- Icing spatula
UPDATE: I’ve recently updated this recipe and completely revamped the fudge frosting. It now comes out deliciously fudgy and has the right consistency every single time. I hope you enjoy!
Please note that the recipe in the video for the frosting has been changed and updated to work better. Make sure to go by the recipe in the recipe card for more consistent results.
***I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are used to seeing and using. For weight in metric measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s a best guess. Please note that because I develop recipes using ‘cups’ I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results.
Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting
For the Cake:
- 2 ½ cups cake flour (see FAQ section in post for substitute)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk, see FAQ section)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ¾ cup sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks only
For the Fudge Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder ( (I used Hershey's cocoa powder)
- 6 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup milk (may need up to 1-2 more tablespoons)
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans.
- In a bowl, add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk and set aside.
- In another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Whisk well and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer set on medium-high for several minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the whole eggs, one at a time, mixing on medium just until combined after each addition.
- Next add in the egg yolks and mix on medium just until combined.
- Now alternate adding in the dry and liquid mixtures.( Add in a third of the dry mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add in half of the liquid mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add in another third of the dry mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add in the other half of the liquid and mix on medium just until combined, then finally the last third of the flour mixture and mix only until combined.) Be very careful not to mix too long after each addition or this will make your cake very dense. Only mix until the ingredients are incorporated.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again on medium just for about 10 seconds or until everything is well combined. Be really careful not to over-mix the batter.
- Pour into two greased and floured 8" round pans and spread evenly.
- Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.
- Test for doneness with a toothpick. There should be some light crumbs on the toothpick, but nothing liquid. Be careful not to overbake this cake or it could come out dry. The tootphick does not have to come out clean. It should have some moist crumbs on it, but no raw batter.
- Cool cake layers in their pans, on a cooling rack, for about 15 minutes. Then turn out of the pans and directly onto the racks and cool completely before adding the fudge frosting.
For the Fudge Frosting:
- In a saucepan, melt the butter and cocoa over low-medium heat. The mixture will be thick. Keep stirring until all is melted, smooth and creamy.
- Add the butter and cocoa mixture to a large mixing bowl.
- Add three cups confectioners sugar plus about ¼ cup of milk and the salt and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. It will be thick.
- Add the last three cups of confectioners sugar plus the rest of the milk and vanilla and mix on medium until well combined.
- Check the consistency. If too thick, add in another tablespoon or two of milk at a time and mix well until desired consistency is reached. If too thin, add another cup of confectioners sugar and mix until smooth.
- Spread onto cooled cake or pipe onto cupcakes.
Make sure to check out the TIPS & FAQs for this recipe in the blog post, which may answer questions you may have about substitutions and making this cake into cupcakes or a 13×9 inch pan. *This recipe card may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
How to Share
I’d love for you to share this recipe link or tag it, but please do not share screenshots or copy/paste the recipe to social media as the content and photographs are copyright protected and we (bloggers) work really hard on our content. Sharing the link, tagging us on socials and pinning it is super appreciated though!
Other Posts You Might Like:
- Scratch Marble Cake
- Mini 6-inch Chocolate Cake
- Double Chocolate Black Forest Cake
- Chocolate Butter Cake
- Vanilla Bean Cake
Don’t Forget to Pin it for Later!
Hi! Any idea how I can make this for 3 8×2 cake pans instead of 2?
Hi there! Yes, you can make a recipe and a half and it should be the perfect amount.
I made your moist white cake recipe and it was perfect so I decided to try your yellow cake recipe and it was also perfect! Yes It did remind me of my childhood because it was the texture that I was searching for. I now have my go to recipe for a white and yellow cake. Thank you so much! I am so glad I found this website. The only thing I would change is to use 2 9″ pans because the batter was a little too much for an 8″ pan.
Hey Shelley! I’m so glad you have two go-to cake recipes now! This made my day! 🙂
Thank you for the recipe. You are amazing.please do I need to wait for the meltedbutter/ chocolate mixture to cool down before adding icing sugar. Many tnx
I didn’t wait because it was already thickening up quite a bit. I mean it’s okay to wait a couple minutes, but once it starts to thicken up, don’t want too long.
I forgot to say that I used my own frosting recipe that I like for both the white and the yellow cake.
Great recipe! Mine came out a very nice texture, just a little too much salt for my taste. I’ll do half the salt next time and I’m sure it will be perfect! Thanks for a great cake! 🙂
Oh that’s great! Thanks for the great review!
Love this recipe! I was wondering if you could make cupcakes with this recipe?
So glad you love it! I haven’t tried this one as cupcakes, but it should work just fine. Fill the cupcake cups about 2/3 full and then set the timer for about 20 minutes. You may need to bake a little longer, but probably start checking around 18-20 minutes to be safe.
Is there a such thing as using cream cheese to make the chocolate frosting instead of butter? I love cream cheese frosting and wondered if adding the cocoa powder with the powdered sugar?
Hi Kat, I do actually have a chocolate cream cheese frosting if you want to check that out. Here’s a link: https://iscreamforbuttercream.com/chocolate-cream-cheese-buttercream/
Thank you for your response😀 I want to use 3 4inch cake pans to bake a three layer mini cake for one of the members of my church so what temperature should I bake them and for how long?
Bake at the same temp, but for less time. Start checking at about 20 minutes or so.
Thank you, so much!😘❤
I was wondering if you think it would work ok if I use 2 thawed frozen egg yolks left over from making your Best White Cake? I have lots of frozen yolks so just wondering what you think. They’ve been frozen for about 2 1/2 months….
Hi Linda, hmmmmm…I think that would probably be okay. I’ve never tried it, but my best guess is that it’ll work just fine. Let me know how it goes!
Made this in colorado and the middle sunk in. Is there something different for elevation?
Yes, baking at a higher elevation does require changes. I’m not an expert on that as I’m down here in Texas and don’t have a way to test it out, so I usually just refer people to the King Arthur website as they have a lot of good information on how to adjust recipes for different elevations. Here’s that link: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/learn/resources/high-altitude-baking
On another note, also make sure not to mix the batter for a long time. Only mix until everything is well combined. If it’s mixed too long, sometimes that will cause the middle to sink. Since you’re in Colorado though, I’d lean more toward needing to adjust it for elevation.
Hope this helps!
This is just as perfect as the white cake. Took me decades ti finally find a good white and yellow cake and they are both here! Thank you for your great recipes
Oh yay! I’m so glad you love them both! Thanks for the great review. 🙂