Moist Yellow Cake Recipe (Old Fashioned)

Why does yellow cakes give folks such a hard time? It’s one of those cakes that if you find a great yellow cake recipe, you stick with it! I’ve been testing out yellow cake recipes off and on for awhile now.

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The problem with homemade yellow cake is:

1.) It’s hard to find a from scratch yellow cake recipe that has the texture of a fluffy box yellow cake but that buttery, homemade taste of a scratch-made yellow cake. I can’t tell you how many dry, crumbly and/or eggy tasting yellow cakes I’ve had in the past.

2.) Um…I can’t think of anything else right now.

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I’m here to tell you that YES YOU CAN have a scratch made fluffy, moist, yellow cake with a beautiful crumb texture. YES YOU CAN have that classic buttery-vanilla taste of a homemade yellow cake WITH simple ingredients. YES. YOU.CAN!!! YES. YOU. CAN!!! Sorry I’m literally sitting on the couch watching Nutty Professor  while I write this blog post. Remember that part?

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Anyways, I’ve been fortunate to come across some really good yellow cake recipes, but something in me just can’t seem to stop searching, kinda like with macaroni and cheese. Never satisfied even when you’re satisfied. Well today I want to share the homemade yellow cake recipe I’ve been making for years.

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It’s that classic, old fashioned yellow cake recipe with simple pure ingredients. No butter flavored shortening (which I normally put in cakes) or sour cream or yogurt (which I also love to put in cakes). It’s the kind of yellow cake I grew up eating, with homemade chocolate butter cream frosting, sprinkles and candles (yes yellow cake taste best with  candles. I don’t know why but it just does!)

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 This yellow cake recipe is the stuff old school birthdays were made of. You know, when most moms actually made every birthday cake from scratch. Wait, am I telling my age?? I digress…

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This yellow cake recipe bakes up super moist, fluffy and velvety soft without the eggy taste that really irks me. My grandmother occasionally adds in butter flavoring to take the buttery taste over the edge, but I never seem to have that stuff on hand so I don’t add it in. I think it taste great without it. Although, if you really like the taste of boxed yellow cake, you may want to add that butter-flavored extract to replicate the taste.

homemade yellow cake recipe

Watch me make this moist, homemade yellow cake from start to finish!

4.5 from 102 reviews
Fluffy, Moist Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, room temperature
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  4. Add in egg yolks and vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated. Set aside.
  5. In a seperate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk.
  7. Mix until batter is fluffy but be careful not to over mix.
  8. Beat egg whites until foamy and thick.
  9. Very gently fold egg whites into batter and mix JUST until incorporated.
  10. Pour batter into prepared pans and spread into even layers.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let cake cool in pans until pans are warm to the touch.
  13. Carefully remove cakes from pan and place on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  14. When cakes are completely cooled frost with chocolate buttercream frosting.

 

Did This Yellow Cake Sink In the Middle?

*NOTE** Hey guys!! I see ya down there in the comments section (waving) and I see this cake is giving a lot of you a hard time with sinking in the middle (so sorry). Yellow cakes are notorious for giving folks a hard time and I was so sure this one would be a breeze for everyone. Ok let’s look into this.

I’ve tried to troubleshoot this cake so many times to see what could be causing the sinking but it comes out great for me each time. Go figure! I thought about removing the recipe and adding another in it’s place but so many have equally told me that it’s the best yellow cake recipe they’ve ever had.

It really is a GREAT cake and I’d love for you to experience it so I’ve listed some tips below that may help. Meanwhile I’ll also post my grandmothers yellow cake recipe as well (although I prefer this one).

What causes a yellow cake to sink in the middle:

1.) BEAT EGG WHITES CORRECTLY AND GENTLY FOLD THEM IN THOROUGHLY. I’m not yelling at you, I just want you to understand the importance of beating those whites until they are thick AND gently folding them in completely. It’s crucial for any cake that requires this method. If not, it could cause the cake to sink in the middle.

2.) Fresh baking powder. Make sure your baking powder is not expired. No seriously go check right now, you might be surprised.

3.) Don’t open the oven while the cake it cooking. Use the oven light if you want to peek at the cake.

4.) Don’t overbeat. Once you add in the flour be very careful about mixing to long. You just want the flour incorporated. I think this is the main reason cakes tend to sink.

5.)  Increase baking time. If your cake looks like it’s still uncooked in the center let it cook a bit longer until the top springs back when touched. Keep an close eye on it.

 

Comments

  1. Patricia says

    OMG, OMG….Made this cake today for my friend’s birthday , it was so good. Moist ,fluffy , delicious. The best yellow cake I ever made. No more looking for yellow cake recipe, I found the one. I did decrease the sugar to 1 and 1/4 cup. Thank you for this awesome cake!!!

  2. Ayodamolami says

    I made this Recipe and my sis loves loves it, I reduced the sugar by 1/2 tho and it still was too sugary for me… But other Ppl loved loved it… So fluffy and moist
    In all, great recipe! Merci beaucoup lol

  3. Camille says

    I was very reluctant to try yet another yellow cake recipe claiming to be light and moist. After reading the comments about the cake sinking I was even more reluctant. But then i said what the hey…let me give it a try. I’m so glad I did. The cake was awesome. Its very light and very moist. This cake is very delicate and will give you a crumb even softer than a box mix. I plan to experiment and increase the amount of flour in 1/4 increments to give the cake a little more structure. Also, off the bat I decreased the amount of sugar by 1/2 cup and it came out the perfect sweetness for me. At this stage I dont think I will attempt to make cupcakes out of this recipe. I have another recipe I use that makes great cupcakes. This recipe truly gives you that fluffy bakery quality cake. Its a good base recipe to tweak to your needs. Thank you for the recipe Divas Can Cook.

    TIPS:
    Decrease the sugar if you don’t like really sweet cake
    Butter and flour your pans really really well. Maybe even use parchment.
    Let the cake cool down before flipping out of the pans
    If you want to be able to stack this cake, flip them on top of cake boards, wrap them up and stick in the freezer. You will only be able to work with this cake frozen or cold. Use strong dowels and ice or fondant cold cakes.
    Look at her video. Nowadays we are told to cream the butter until it’s pale, light and fluffy and to add the flour before adding the milk. She doesn’t do that. She kind of casually breaks the rules. She doesn’t over mix anything and the egg whites are beaten until they are very stiff. The way she puts the cake together is very casual. She also drops the pans with the batter in them before she puts them in the oven to release any bubbles. This technique is often done with cakes to avoid sinking.

  4. loni says

    I was told that the reason the cake was sinking down in the center is because 2 cups of sugar is too much. The sugar weighs the cake down. White sugar is granulated or powdered sugar?

  5. Lily says

    I made a mistake and thought it meant 325 celsius, but that’s because i’m new to cooking. I luckily noticed the burning smell after 10 mins, and cut away the burnt parts, so i’m sure this cake would’ve been even better had I not messed up on it. The cake inside was moist and delicious. Tastes just like birthday cake, I put raspberry jam and strawberry buttercream between the layers, and fondant on top. It was a bit hard to put the buttercream and jam on due to the moistness though. It didn’t sink in the middle at all :) Was delicious! PS: Self raising flour works fine.

  6. carlos j says

    omg ! I make a lot of cakes and this recipe is awesome. the only thing I did different is that I used whole milk because I didn’t have buttermilk, and I used a electric beater for about a minute on medium speed. on the bottom of the pan I used baking spray and I had a fresh pineapple so I cut about 2 cups full of pineapple chunks and placed them on the bottom of the cake pan and I sprinkled just a little bit of cinnamon across the bottom on the pineapples and poured the cake batter on top, immediately placed cake in the oven and while it was baking I was reading the reviews and was feeling skeptical. I would recommend this recipe and I definitely would use this recipe again. This is a really moist recipe, hit me up if u have questions.

    • Gerri says

      the pineapple sounds great for this recipe. i was thinking about using crush pineapples to add into the cake and a pineapple cream cheese icing.

  7. Katherine says

    I am not nor have I ever been a baker. I honestly did not believe that any cake from scratch that is “moist” existed. After making this cake: I believe. =]

    I get that you can make cakes moist by adding oil, and butter flavoring and yada, yada, yada. No, this cake is scrumptious without all of that.

    The first time I made it the center Did sink but the second time around I did not over mix the batter and folded in the well beaten eggs until “just” incorporated (could barely see skinny strings of egg whites) and it did not since. I don’t even need frosting but made a small amount of thin chocolate frosting. Delish.

    I do have one question though: When you say beat the egg whites until they are thick and foamy do you mean until they have soft peaks or stiff peaks?

    Thank you So much for sharing this recipe!

  8. JRose says

    Thank you SO much for this awesome recipe!!! The only mistake I made(nothing to do with the recipe) is that i baked it for 28 mins even though i should’ve baked it for lesser time(this is because of my oven, its a little weird). And my sister pointed this out or i wouldve never known! this is my first time ever at baking a perfect cake and i loved the YouTube video as well. Just lovely!!! Thank you and i will come back to try something else.

  9. Linda O. says

    Turned out great on my first try. It is now my favourite recipe for yellow cake. I decided to use the fan assisted setting on the oven for even heating. The cake was delicious and moist and sunk in the centre only a very little bit as it cooled. . I added chocolate chips to the batter at the request of my son. Some of the larger chips sunk toward the bottom but we liked it a lot.

  10. livianca says

    Hi, such a great recipe..
    But im kinda confuse with some of the steps in the recipe, when u cream the butter and sugar, is it just til combine or until light fluffy? Thanks :)

  11. Chris says

    So after reading the comments and making this recipe, I will say this. The flavor of this cake is awesome! However the constant problem of falling in the center is due to the high sugar content. There is a heavy crust forming on top of the cake which causes too much weight and therefore the cake falls. I suggest decreasing the sugar to 1 1/2 cups and increasing from 2 to 3 eggs. This will aid in creating more structure.

  12. Jamie says

    I desperately need a g recipe as good as this yellow cake for cupcakes??? This recipe is delicious but a hit and miss! I bakes several batches in one day. The first two came out good, but is hard to get out the cupcake liner due to the crystallization on top and around the rim of the cupcake which, I love!!! The last batch exploded in my oven like a volcano! They didn’t bake at all, the batter just kept rolling out like lava! Live your recipes @divascancook :) need a full proof yellow cake to make cupcakes just as good as this one???

    • Jay says

      The crystalization around the rim and the batter rolling out like lava is an indication that you are putting too much batter in each cup……cupcake cups should only be filled to half full (maximum) or less if you have a batter that has a high rise to them. I used to do that as well cause the cups didn’t look like they had enough batter in them and so I tried it with less batter in each and that worked great for me.

  13. Rebecca says

    My husband is a lemon fan, so for his birthday I decided to try this cake with lemon buttercream frosting, and it turned out great!! He absolutely loved it! Thanks so much for the recipe. Delicious!

  14. Hannah says

    The only reason this is given one star is because it did not turn out for me (both times), and I’m pretty sure it’s a mixture of my fault/high altitude. It turned out exactly like a pancake, and it was WAY too sweet. I’m not sure what happened here, maybe yellow cake isn’t my thing, which is weird because I tend to pride myself in my chocolate/white cake making skills! I don’t know, just not the recipe for me I guess.

    • Jay says

      If you are baking at a high altitude, you have to add more leavening agents because the pressure at higher altitudes prevents a standard batter from rising. Try doubling the baking powder or adding in the same quantity of baking soda and see how that works…..if it helps, continue to adjust the leaveners until it comes out right for you. Good luck !

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