Self-Rising Yellow Cake

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 2 round 9" layers or 3 round 8" layers

Recipe photo

This moist, tender, delicious cake bakes up with a nice, level top — perfect for icing a special birthday cake.

Self-Rising Yellow Cake

star rating (4) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 2 round 9" layers or 3 round 8" layers
Published: 06/11/2012


  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon peel (zest)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 cup room-temperature milk (if needed, heat a cup of cold milk for about 20 seconds in the microwave)

Tips from our bakers

  • You might recognize this as a variation of a treasured old recipe that's been around for years: the 1,2,3,4 cake (1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, and 4 eggs). Because our King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour is so soft, we increased the amount of flour a bit so the cake would hold together; we think of it as a softer version of an old friend.
  • If you're used to using cake strips, don't use them here; they'll delay the cake setting, and it'll fall.
  • Avoid over-beating the batter; keep your mixer speed at medium or below. Add the flour and milk at medium-low speed. If the batter separates when you're adding milk, don't worry. Just mix until you can't see any unincorporated milk, then add the next portion of flour; the batter should smooth right out.
  • The cake is tender, so be sure to let it rest for at least 5 minutes before turning it out of the pan.
  • Don't have self-rising flour? Try our recipe for Golden Vanilla Cake using all-purpose flour.
  • To match the photo for this recipe, bake the cake in two 9" round pans. Once the layers are completely cool, split them in half horizontally, to make four layers. Prepare a batch of our Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, using the larger yield of frosting offered in the recipe's "tips" section. Frost and stack the layers, then frost the outside of the cake.


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8" or two 9" round cake pans.

2) Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract (or fruit zest) into a smooth paste. The sugar will stay granular.

3) Add the eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed just until they're incorporated, and scraping the bottom of the bowl after each addition.

4) Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium-low speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape the bowl a few times during this process. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.

5) Divide the batter between the pans. Cakes will self-level in the oven, so there's no need to smooth the top with a spatula. However, it does help to remove any large bubbles by banging the cake pans firmly on the counter 7 or 8 times.

6) Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, until evenly browned and a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

7) Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the edges to loosen, and turn out onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Yield: 2 round 9" layers or 3 round 8" layers.


  • 04/21/2013
  • Stef from
  • Too dry, crumb was large. I made this for a party. No one liked it.
    I would careful how you measure the flour in this cak, Stef. We always fluff, sprinkle, and level our cups of flour: never dip and level to avoid packing extra flour in the cup! Kim@KAF

  • star rating 03/24/2013
  • Sandi Edelson from Kennesaw, GA
  • I am an experienced baker and followed the recipe exactly. I was surprised to only have enough batter to fill two 8" pans. The cake baked nicely however, they did stick to my pans slightly. I found the aroma and flavor of the cake a bit too "egg-y" tasting and had somewhat of a spongecake flavor and consistency, in spite of the fact that there's a respectable amount of butter in the recipe! I would recommend this recipe only if you like the extremely yellow, egg-y taste of this cake, otherwise, I will probably not rely on this recipe in the future.
    While I often do not like to tweak cake recipes too much, you could easily decrease the egg in this recipe by one whole egg and add an additional 2 Tbs of milk to make up the loss of liquid. The other 3 eggs would be plenty to keep the cake nice and tall, although I cannot guarantee success. It might be worth trying once to see if that steers this recipe in a better direction for you. Best, Kim@KAF

  • star rating 08/20/2012
  • umbreonaura from KAF Community
  • I made this for my birthday cake, my first time baking a cake from scratch. I used two 9" pans (bought them here) and lined them in parchment in addition to greasing and flouring. I made it exactly, weighing out the ingredients. The only thing I would do differently is let them cool in the pans longer (add an extra five minutes). One layer was not ready to come out of the pan after five minutes. I found that out when I was putting it on a cooling a rack. It became the bottom layer and extra frosting filled in the gaps. The other layer came out perfect. There was no need to level them, already level out of the oven. The cake is moist and so tender, melt in your mouth good. I take that back it's better than good :). This will be my go to cake recipe :)
  • star rating 07/16/2012
  • juthurst from KAF Community
  • This is a good, reliable cake recipe. In looking to replace overpriced and now undersized cake mixes that I used to use, I have been trying out different KAF recipes, and this is the first yellow cake recipe from this site that I made. The reason I chose this recipe is that it is simple, I had all the ingredients on hand, though I did add a few things in. I followed directions with the exception of adding 3 Tablespoons of cake enhancer and 1 teaspoon of butter flavoring. The layers rose well with a dome in the center, which flattened out as the layers cooled. The layers torted well, had a fine crumb on the interior and in between them I used a whipped chocolate ganache with a caramel icing on the top and sides. Together that was a near perfect combination. The cake by itself was a touch too dry, (with such rich fillings it worked well) which I would attribute to the "first time" making a recipe. I measure flour, then sift and measure again so this is not a "too much flour" issue. I'll watch the baking time more carefully next time and pull the layers a little earlier. And I will be making this one again soon. :)

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