Classic Yellow Cake with Fudge Frosting

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Yield: one 9" round layer, 8 to 10 servings

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What makes this cake classic? In our book, a "classic" yellow cake — read, '60s box-mix style, like Mom used to make — is marked by its pleasing moistness, its easy sliceability (no crumbling, please) and simple vanilla flavor. This cake has it all, and more: the fudge frosting on top is, well, the icing on the cake!

Classic Yellow Cake with Fudge Frosting

star rating (18) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: one 9" round layer, 8 to 10 servings
Published: 09/08/2011



  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 2/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt; low-fat is OK, but please don't use nonfat*
  • *Buying yogurt in 6-ounce containers? Substitute one 6-ounce container + 1/4 cup (2 ounces) milk.


  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, natural or Dutch-process
  • 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt; low-fat is fine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Tips from our bakers

  • One small tweak transforms this recipe into one for Boston Cream Pie: split the cake into two rounds before frosting; fill with about 2 cups of your favorite pastry cream filling or vanilla pudding, and frost as directed.
  • The frosting is easy to put together, but you need to work quickly once you add the hot butter mixture to the confectioners' sugar. It pours easily when warm, flowing across the cake and down its sides, then drying to a glossy sheen. But if you dub around, and let it cool, you're going to be applying frosting to cake with a spatula — and it won't look nearly as pretty.
  • Can you substitute sour cream for the yogurt? Sure. Full-fat is best; and low-fat is OK, but avoid nonfat — the cake's texture will suffer.
  • The frosting recipe makes a generous amount. It'll flow over the sides of the cake and pool a bit around the edge of the plate. To keep things neat, slip strips of parchment or waxed paper between cake and plate; frost the cake; and when the frosting is done oozing, gently tug the strips of paper out, taking the frosting with them and leaving a clean plate. Enjoy the extra frosting on ice cream, or just as is...


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1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan that's at least 2" deep; for extra protection against sticking, line the pan with parchment, and grease the parchment.

2) To make the cake: Beat together the sugar and butter until thoroughly combined.

3) Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each. After you've added the second egg, beat at high speed for 2 minutes; the batter will lighten in color and become fluffy.

4) Add the vanilla, almond extract, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, stirring to combine.

5) Starting and ending with the flour, alternately add the flour and yogurt to the mixture: 1/3 of the flour, half the yogurt, 1/3 of the flour, the remaining yogurt, and the remaining flour. Beat gently to combine after each addition. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat briefly.

6) Spoon the batter into the pan. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until it's golden brown on top, the edges are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

7) After 10 minutes, turn the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.

8) To make the frosting: Sift the confectioners' sugar into a mixing bowl.

9) Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and yogurt.

10) Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and espresso powder. Add to the confectioners' sugar in the bowl, beating until smooth.

11) Quickly pour over the cooled cake, while the frosting is still warm.

Yield: one 9" cake, 8 to 10 servings.


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  • star rating 12/24/2014
  • Mami from Englewood, CO
  • I love baking and I finally used your flour to bake this basic yellow cake to see how wonderful outcome I can see and taste, as my best friend always tells me. Unfortunately the first one I baked, the cake did not seem to rise, about one inch flat... I googled the webs to see what could be the cause of this result and I realized that my baking powder was not fresh enough(?). So I used new baking powder and tried again...Well it did not seem to be THAT different between the two attempts. I measured and used exact ingredients of the recipe...I hope someone can tell me what is the problem...
    I'm sorry this recipe did not meet your expectations. We'd love to help you troubleshoot this recipe at the Baker's Hotline: 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 11/14/2014
  • Grace from Clarksville,TN
  • I made this recipe 5 times the first time I used sour cream instead of yogurt and it was good and very moist but it had a pound cake consistency. The other 4 times I used yogurt I baked one 8" it turned out ok good flavor but not very moist and the other 3 times I used a 10" pan and I made it 3 times the first time looked and taste ok the other 2 times was fine and about 10 min before i had to take it out of the oven reduced the height in half! the last 2 times I made sure i followed the recipe to the T because I could tell the consistency was different. When i tried the cake was very chewy and had lots of pores. I hope I can find the perfect yellow cake recipe!!!
    Hi Grace, I'm sorry you have met with difficulties in your pursuit of the perfect yellow cake. We'd love to help you troubleshoot this or any recipe at the Baker's Hotline: 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 10/18/2014
  • Jamie from Minneapolis,MN
  • This is a fantastic recipe! Moist, buttery, Yum.
  • star rating 08/11/2014
  • ferndale52 from KAF Community
  • nice buttery flavor, old fashioned taste and texture. moist. like the one pan baking.
  • star rating 11/21/2013
  • Jennifer from SC
  • I'm posting this to help anyone who is trying to decide between this recipe and KAF's Golden Vanilla Cake recipe. I just made both today for a birthday cake, and I much prefer the Classic Yellow Cake to the Golden Vanilla Cake recipe. The Classic came out very fluffy, while the Golden tastes more like pound cake. I did not make the frosting.
  • star rating 11/08/2013
  • conniehi from KAF Community
  • I used the yellow cake recipe from the KAF pastry class I attended, so my rating is really for the frosting. I didn't find it to be fudgy at all, even with using the double-dutch cocoa powder. It just tasted sweet with little actual flavor. I think it would have greatly benefitted from the addition of even one semi-sweet or darker baking chocolate square; I have done that with a brownie recipe and it adds a needed richness. Also, although I worked quickly with the ingredients and even warmed them a bit more in the microwave, the frosting cooled too quickly to adequately drip down the sides of the cake. I would pour the warm frosting over a still-warm cake to get the sides covered. So my cake looks blotchy, which is a bit disappointing as I will be taking it to a function. I would make the frosting recipe again with adjustments.
    Try measuring the confectioner's sugar by weight, there may have been too much sugar in the frosting, which can easily happen if you scoop the sugar up with your measuring cup because confectioner's sugar, like flour, can compact very easily. Also, frosting this cake while the cake is still warm, would cause it to steam, not cool properly and become gummy in texture. ~Amy
  • star rating 11/06/2013
  • Julia from Costa Mesa, ca
  • I made the frosting, not the cake. It's delicious and I will totally make it again!
  • star rating 04/17/2013
  • Jo from Florida
  • This tasted wonderful. The classic in the name is really on target. Despite growing up on ice cream cakes (because I hated frosting) to me it tastes like something old fashioned and comfort food-y. The first time I made it I got a volcano cake despite using a toothpick (which came out clean) and following all the directions. Tasted great though. Called my aunt who told me to lower the temperature and cook it longer because Florida's so low. Worked great. My frosting, however, never seems to cover the whole cake. I'll make a bit more next time just to be sure.
  • star rating 10/29/2012
  • Rolling_In_Dough from KAF Community
  • very good, moist cake. I made it with my simple ganache 1 cup of dark chocolate and 1/2 cup heavy cream.
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