Learn how to make this best fluffy yellow cake. Follow this easy step-by-step tutorial to make this classic yellow cake that is a master recipe for layer cakes, sheet cakes, or cupcakes! Pin it for Later »
Best Yellow Cake Recipe Overview
This is my absolute favorite recipe for yellow cake. It turns out light and fluffy yet still moist. It really is the absolute best yellow cake I’ve ever had!
This cake is technically a version of chiffon cake so therefore it uses the chiffon mixing method to make it. This method creates a super fluffy cake because of the meringue that is folded into the batter. High fat cakes tend to be very moist but also can be pretty dense. However the meringue gives the batter lift and keeps it very fluffy!
What is Yellow Cake?
Yellow cake gets its bright yellow color from egg yolks. Yellow cake has a mild vanilla taste, but it doesn’t have any other pronounced flavors. It is mostly a blank canvas that can be flavored in a variety of ways or can be kept plain.
Yellow cake is different than white cake in that it contains egg yolks and has a higher fat content. The higher fat content makes yellow cake much more moist and rich than white cake.
How to Make the Best Moist Yellow Cake
The chiffon mixing method can be broken down into 3 main components: the dry ingredients, the wet ingredients, and the meringue. These components are then combined to make this classic yellow cake. It really is simple and the results are so worth it!
Step 1: Prep
When gathering the ingredients for this cake I like to keep them separated into 3 groups. This helps you stay organized when mixing and making the cake. The the groupings are: the dry ingredients, the wet ingredients, and the meringue ingredients.
You will also need two 9″ (22 cm) round cake pans. Grease them and then add some flour to them and tap the flour around in the pan to coat it completely. Tap out the excess flour. Also, preheat your oven.
Step 2: Combine the Dry Ingredients
Dry ingredients include cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and granulated sugar. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour. This means that less gluten will develop and this will serve to keep our cake nice and tender. Technically, all-purpose flour could be used here, but the texture will not be quite as light and fluffy. You could also make a cake flour substitute.
In a large bowl (this will be the bowl that everything else is added into) sift all of your dry ingredients together. Then take a whisk and make sure they are all thoroughly combined.
Step 3: Combine the Wet Ingredients
The wet ingredient lineup features unsalted butter that has been melted and cooled slightly, buttermilk at room temp, vegetable oil, vanilla, and egg yolks also at room temp. When separating your eggs, make sure you keep 3 of those whites for the meringue!
Buttermilk’s acidity will work to activate that tiny bit of baking soda to help with the leavening of this cake. It also adds just a tiny hint of tang to the flavor profile.
Whisk all of the wet ingredients together until completely combined. Set aside.
Step 4: Make the Meringue
Lastly, the meringue component of the cake is made with just egg whites and sugar. These two are whipped together to create a simple meringue also known as French meringue.
The meringue is possibly the most important part of putting this cake together. The whipped egg whites serve to give the cake lift and keep it nice and light and moist. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Using either a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until medium peaks are starting to form. The 1/4 cup sugar is then slowly streamed in while continuing to mix. The whites and sugar are then mixed on high until thick and holding stiff peaks.
Step 5: Combine the Components Together
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just saturated. Next, add about 1/2 cup of the meringue into the batter and stir it in completely to lighten the batter and make it easier to fold in the rest of the whites.
Add about 1/2 of the rest of the meringue and fold it in gently being careful not to deflate the air out of the whites. Add the rest of the whites in and fold them in until incorporated.
Step 6: Bake the Cakes
Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake them until a toothpick comes out with a moist crumbs on it. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
- Most often I bake this cake in 2- 9″ (22 cm) round cake pans. However it can be baked in a 9 x 13 ” (22 x 33 cm) baking dish or as cupcakes.
- The cake pictured is covered in my favorite frosting: whipped chocolate ganache frosting! This cake is also fabulous with a classic buttercream or covered in cream cheese frosting.
- If you are new to folding egg whites into a batter take a moment to watch this quick tutorial to see how to do it without deflating all of the whites. This is essential to keep this cake super fluffy!
Yellow Cake Ingredient Functions
- Cake Flour is the main structure for the cake. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour so it makes a more tender cake, however all-purpose flour can be substituted.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda are both chemical leavening agents that make the cake rise.
- Salt rounds out the sweetness of the cake.
- Sugar is divided into two parts. The bulk of the sugar does the sweetening of the cake, but part of the sugar is also used to create the meringue that makes the cake super fluffy!
- Oil adds richness and keeps the cake very moist.
- Butter also adds richness and adds a slight buttery flavor.
- Egg Yolks adds some moisture and more richness to the cake.
- Buttermilk is acidic and works to activate the baking soda while adding a slight tanginess and moisture to the cake.
- Egg Whites are beaten to create a meringue which creates an incredibly fluffy and light yellow cake.
- 2 1/2 cups (280 gr) cake flour (*see substitution)
- 1 tsp (4 gr) baking powder
- 1/4 tsp (2 gr) baking soda
- 3/4 tsp (3.6 gr) Morton kosher salt or table salt (use 1 1/2 tsp if using Diamond kosher)
- 1 1/2 cups (294 gr) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (112 gr) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/3 cup (79 ml) vegetable, canola, or avocado oil
- 1 cup (237 ml) buttermilk, room temperature (*see note for substitute)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (50 gr) granulated sugar
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C). Prepare two 9" (22 cm) round cake pans by greasing them and then adding some flour and tapping it around the pan to coat. Tap the excess flour out of the pan. Measure out all of your ingredients for each section of the recipe and keep each grouping together to help with the workflow of the recipe
- MIX THE DRY INGREDIENTS: Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then whisk together to combine. Set aside.
- MIX THE WET INGREDIENTS: In a separate medium bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients and set aside.
- MAKE THE MERINGUE: In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium/high speed until they start forming medium peaks. With the mixer still running, slowly stream in the sugar and keep beating until you reach stiff peaks.
- COMBINE THE COMPONENTS: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and stir together with a rubber spatula. Once the dry ingredients are saturated, add about 1/2 cup of the egg whites into the mixture and stir it in completely to lighten the batter. Next add in 1/2 of the rest of the egg whites and gently fold them in being careful not to deflate them. Add in the rest of the egg whites and fold them in gently until completely combined.
- Bake the cake at 350 F (177 C) for 20-23 minutes until the cake is set and a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
- Store uneaten cake covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Substitute the Buttermilk: Measure out 1 tbsp of lemon juice or white vinegar and combine it with enough milk to equal 1 cup. Stir together and let sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe.
- The cake pictured is frosted with my whipped chocolate ganache frosting. It would also be delicious with a traditional buttercream frosting.
- This cake can also be baked as a 9 x 13" (22 x 33 cm) cake and will take about 32-35 minutes to bake. It can also be baked into cupcakes which will take about 16-18 minutes to bake.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 281