Best Ever Yellow Cake

I know, I know there are some pretty decent cake mixes out there. They’ve improved greatly over the years and many people swear by them. I personally just don’t like that slightly artificial taste that still persists and………. did you ever look at the ingredient label?……………
The labels typically start out quite respectable with something like this; Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour, next comes vegetable oil shortening. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? But when you read the parentheses describing the vegetable oil shortening it starts to get a little scary – this is what it says; Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Propylene Glycol Mono- and Diesters Of Fats, Monoand Diglycerides…….. I’m starting to not like this……… and when I read a bit further and see these ingredients listed, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Colored with (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake), I’m beginning to see why I prefer Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs and Vanila!

What if you could make a fabulous cake as quickly and easily as you can throw together a cake mix? I’m here to tell you that this cake could not be easier. Unlike many yellow cake recipes, there is no need to measure out the dry and liquid ingredients separately, adding them in turns and mixing in between. With this no-fail delicious, moist cake you just throw everything in your mixing bowl, mix for 30 seconds, yes I said 30 seconds! Pour the batter in a cake pan or two, depending on the size of your pan(s), and pop this yummy treat into to oven. Twenty minutes later you have an aroma filling your house that will drive you family crazy. One bite will have them gushing (hence the name). 🙂

Oh, and speaking of your family, wouldn’t you rather feed them a cake that tastes infinitely better than cake mix, a cake whose ingredients are so simple and basic that even your great grandmother would have recognized them? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not calling this cake a “health food”, but when we’re in the mood for something sweet, I love knowing that I’m not ingesting ingredients with names that I can’t even pronounce!

I call this cake “plain and simple” but it can be dressed up in myriads of ways from a simple powdered sugar dusting to a drizzle of jam or chocolate sauce. It’s especially delicious with seasonal fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream. The recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated and is their favorite cupcake recipe but it also works so well for a cake. Check out the pics below for other fun ways you can use this super fabulous, super simple recipe!


Frosted for a fancy celebration cake like this Wedding Cake

A wonderful base cake for a trifle like this Red White and Blue Trifle

It would make great regular or Upside Down Cupcakes …..

or how about these fun “Cakes in a Jar”

No Fuss, Lots of Gush, Best Ever, Yellow Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350˚ F. Grease 2 round or square 8-9 inch cake pans by spaying thoroughly with baking spray.

2. Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Turn mixer on and off quickly a few times to prevent the flour from flying all over. Once flour is beginning to be incorporated,  beat mixture at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

3. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake until cake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. (Set your timer for 20 minutes and check the cake – I have a convection oven and it only takes about 20 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then flip cake out onto a wire rack; cool to room temperature before frosting.

9 thoughts on “Best Ever Yellow Cake”

  • Hi Chris,
    I LOVE your best ever yellow cake recipe. I made this recipe the next day and it so easy but most importantly very moist and delicious. I will be using this recipe for my grandson’s birthday cupcakes. Was wondering if you have a similar easy “mix it all together” version for a chocolate cake? I posted this question on your fb page but I didn’t get an answer.

    Thanks very much,

  • Hi Chris,
    I just made your best ever caramel cake and the cake is the best yellow cake I’ve ever made. The caramel icing was a bit too sweet for me, but I plan on making the cake again for birthdays and other celebrations.

    I came back to your website to look for other cake recipes, since the first one turned out so well. I came upon this recipe for your best ever yellow cake and have a couple of questions:

    1. I’m a novice baker, but wonder: all cake recipes I’ve seen separate the wet and dry ingredients and then mix them as the final step. How is it possible that this recipe turns out well without separating the wet and dry? What is the purpose of separating the wet and dry anyway?

    2. How would you compare the texture and the taste of this yellow cake recipe with the caramel cake recipe (sans icing, of course)?


    • Hi Ann,
      So happy you enjoyed the cake! In regard to your questions:
      1. Yes it is a very strange cake recipe. I was skeptical also but it turns out wonderful overtime and is so easy. It was developed by Cook’s Illustrated and they do lots of testing. The purpose of separating the wet and dry is to keep the cake light and airy but this method seems to create the same light texture. I haven’t made the cakes together so it would be hard to compare the precise differences. I just know they’re both really light, moist and delicious!

  • This sounds delicious. I share your aversion to cake mixes, so know where you are coming from. I’ve never tried this version of the cake, but you’ve inspired me. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

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