Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting
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Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe — This is the easiest yellow cake from scratch and it tastes like a million bucks! This yellow cake recipe always turns out supremely moist, springy, soft and fluffy cake thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. Who needs the bakery?
The BEST Yellow Cake Recipe
This easy yellow cake recipe is a whisk-together batter that’s adapted my favorite buttermilk cake base that I’ve used for so many cakes including my Blueberry Muffin and Buttermilk Pancakes Cake, Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake, and many more.
I love this homemade yellow cake recipe because the base is a cinch to make, and the cake always turn out supremely moist, springy, soft and fluffy thanks to the buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. Any moist yellow cake recipe should include those three ingredients — you can’t go wrong with them! That trifecta of moisturizing and tenderizing ingredients makes it impossible to have a dry cake.
I frosted this homemade yellow cake with white and then pink buttercream in honor of all the springtime holidays and events coming up like Easter, Mother’s Day, bridal and baby showers. I used McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract in both the easy yellow cake and the buttercream, and McCormick Red Food Coloring to softly tint the buttercream.
This cake is small enough that you don’t have to worry that you’ll be eating cake for days and days, not that that would be a huge problem! Between the soft, fluffy cake and the sweet, rich buttercream it’ll disappear very quickly. And because this is such an easy yellow cake recipe, you will be making it time and time again!
Classic Yellow Cake Ingredients
To make the homemade yellow cake itself, you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Sour cream
- Canola oil
- McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
And to make the homemade buttercream frosting, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
- Confectioners’ sugar
- McCormick Red Food Coloring
How to Make Yellow Cake From Scratch
To make this homemade yellow cake, you simply need to whisk together the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then combine the two. The ingredients for this yellow cake are mostly pantry staples, so you shouldn’t have to run out to the store before whipping up this cake recipe!
Once you’ve whisked together the cake batter, pour it into a greased 8-by-8-inch pan and bake until done. You’ll know the cake is ready to come out of the oven when the center is set and it springs back when you press it gently with your finger (you can also stick a toothpick in the center to see if it comes out clean).
While the cake is cooling, prep the homemade vanilla buttercream frosting. To make the buttercream frosting, combine room temperature butter, McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. You’ll need to let the mixture whip up for a few minutes, or until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
Once the cake is completely cool, spread half the vanilla buttercream on top. Stir red food coloring into the reserved buttercream and then carefully spread the final layer on top.
So easy, right? This is a great cake recipe to make with kids since it’s so straightforward.
Can I Make This Recipe as Cupcakes Instead?
If you’d rather make yellow cupcakes instead, I recommend following my recipe for Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream. I know for sure that recipe works!
Can I Double This Recipe?
I personally haven’t doubled this moist yellow cake recipe, but I bet you could. You’d need to bake it in a 9×13-inch pan in that case.
Can I Freeze Homemade Yellow Cake?
I’m sure you can! You’d likely need to freeze it unfrosted, though. To thaw, set the cake out on the counter to come to room temperature and whip up a fresh batch of buttercream while it warms up.
Tips for the Best Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting
If you don’t have sour cream on hand, plain Greek yogurt can be used in this moist yellow cake recipe instead. Just make sure it’s Greek yogurt and not regular yogurt — the thicker yogurt better mimics sour cream!
I don’t recommend using a buttermilk substitute in this cake recipe, though. You want the real thing here, if possible. Buttermilk adds so much moisture to this yellow cake recipe, and since this cake is so simple it’s best to use all the right ingredients.
I also wanted to note that it’s so important that you wait to frost the cake until it’s completely cool. If you frost the cake while it’s warm, the frosting will run everywhere and you won’t see two distinct layers of vanilla buttercream frosting.
But speaking of the buttercream frosting, you don’t have to color the top layer pink if you don’t want to! You can keep the frosting white or make it a different color to suit the occasion. If you’re making this cake with kids, you might want to let them add sprinkles to the top of the cake! It’s an easy way for them to get involved with the baking process.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup sour cream, lite is okay (plain Greek yogurt may be substituted)
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
- pinch salt, optional and to taste (helps offset the sweetness)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (I use 2 cups)
- 2 to 4+ drops McCormick Red Food Coloring, or as necessary to achieve desired color
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
Make the Cake
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt; set aside.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, and vanilla.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon or folding with a spatula until just combined. Small lumps will be present, don’t overmix or try to stir them smooth.
- Turn batter out into prepared pan and bake for about 29 to 32 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
- Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool. After cake has cool completely, make the buttercream.
Make the Buttercream Frosting
- To a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and handheld electric mixer), add the butter, vanilla, optional salt, confectioners’ sugar, and beat on low speed for about 1 minute so you don’t spray sugar everywhere. After sugar has incorporated some, increase to medium-high speed and continue to beat until very smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Turn all but 1/3 cup frosting out onto cake and spread evenly with a spatula or offset knife to create an even, smooth flat layer of white frosting; set cake aside.
- To the remaining 1/3 cup frosting in the mixing bowl, I added 2 drops red food coloring, beat momentarily to incorporate, and added the pink frosting on top of the white to create a two-toned layer of frosting. However, for ease you can tint all of the frosting pink.
- Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days (I’m comfortable storing frosted cakes at room temp, if you’re not store in the fridge).
- Cake base adapted from Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 435Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 228mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 0gSugar: 54gProtein: 5g
More Cake Recipes From Scratch:
Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze — You won’t miss chocolate at all after trying this cake! The glaze is just heavenly!
Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake — Move over, store-bought cake mix!! This easy cake only takes minutes to make and tastes wayyyy better!!
The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake – So soft, moist & really is The Best! A cheery, happy cake that’s sure to put a smile on anyone’s face!
Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze – An easy little cake with big lemon flavor! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!
Sweet Cream Vanilla Coffee Cake — You’ll never guess what special ingredient keeps this fast & easy cake so soft and moist!
Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake — Have ripe bananas? This cake has their name all over it! Dripping with rich, buttery, caramel sauce!
Easy Glazed Pound Cake — Finally a homemade pound cake that isn’t dry!! This EASY, buttery, velvety pound cake will be the star of your next party or celebration!
Post is brought to you by McCormick. The recipe, text, images, and opinions expressed are my own.
Originally posted March 18, 2015 and reposted with updated text April 15, 2022.
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