If you're looking for a great homemade yellow cake recipe, your search ends here. My first attempt was a recipe I found in Saveur, and it was 'good' but not great. The texture of the cake was a little heavy and had more of a spongy texture. This version, however, is amazing. No surprise the recipe is from Cook's Illustrated.
This cake has a soft, moist and tender crumb. It's a lot like the texture you get from a boxed cake mix, except it's missing that boxed cake taste. Hallelujah! I don't mind a boxed cake from time to time, and until now, I've always preferred it to any homemade versions of yellow cake. So many of the recipes out there just don't manage to get that moist and tender crumb that you get from the box. Why is that? There's hundreds of great chocolate cake recipes out there that beat the boxed chocolate cakes but when it comes to white or yellow cakes, they never seem to measure up.
And let's face it, while chocolate is great, sometimes it's nice to take a break from it. When you tire of chocolate and want something different, try this one. Honest. It's not the quickest recipe in the world and you'll dirty a lot of bowls, but that's the trade-off. This one is worth the sink full of dirty dishes. Trust.
And the frosting? It's Cook's Illustrated "Fool Proof Chocolate Frosting" and it is a-mazing. Super soft and silky, perfect for swirling on your new favorite yellow cake.
Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake
(adapted from 'Spring Entertaining' by Cook's Illustrated | 2011)
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. table salt
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) sugar
10 Tbsp.(1 1/4 sticks) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
6 large egg yolks, plus 3 large egg whites, room temperature
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9 inch wide by 2 inch deep round cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl. In a 4 cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and yolks.
In a clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.
Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of the bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.
Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.
Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.
Cool cake in pans on rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 90 minutes.
Foolproof Chocolate Frosting
(adapted from: Spring Entertaining' by Cook's Illustrated | 2011)
Yield: 3 cups - enough to frost one 9 inch 2 layer cake)
20 Tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened (60 to 65 degrees)
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioner's sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
pinch of table salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
8 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
In food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds. Frosting can be used immediately or held for up to 3 hours at room temperature. If making further ahead than 3 hours, cover and refrigerate, then let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.