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Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Every year, when Bill’s birthday rolls around, he has visions of a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

This recipe, from Martha’s American Food cookbook by Martha Stewart, is the recipe I used for his birthday cake recently.  It’s actually for a 4-layer cake ~ I wasn’t that adventurous, and made it 2-layers.  

According to Martha, “butter cakes” are a departure from the tradition of cake baking inherited from the Europeans, who relied on whipped egg whites for loft in sponge cakes, and glazes to moisten the airy layers.  With the advent of chemical leaveners, American bakers could increase the amount of butter in their cakes and still get a glorious lift ~ resulting in a new kind of cake with ultra-moist layers.”  “Butter cakes,” such as this one, quickly became the American standard.

By the way, the cookbook is filled with lots of great recipes, and this one made Bill a happy man for his birthday!

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
1½ cups flour, plus more for pans
1½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1¼ cups milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter two 8”x2” round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment.
Butter parchment and dust with flour, tap out excess.
Sift together flours, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl when needed.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla.
With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour.
Beat well after each addition.

Divide batter between prepared pans.
Bake until tops are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
Let cool in pans on a rack for 20 minutes.
Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen and turn out cakes onto rack.
Let cool completely, top side up.

*Place one of the layers on serving plate, spread with frosting.
Place other layer on top and frost entire cake.
8 to 10 servings

Chocolate Frosting


1½ pounds semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
1 pound plus 4 tablespoons (4½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt


Heat chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over(not in) a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine cocoa and the boiling water; stir until cocoa is dissolved.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.
Add melted chocolate; beat on low speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Beat in cocoa mixture. 
Use immediately.
Makes 7½ cups (enough for an 8-inch layer cake)

*Pam’s note:  As I stated earlier, this recipe is for 4 layers.  If you desire, cut each of the 2 layers in half horizontally with a serrated knife to make 4 layers, and frost each layer.  This frosting recipe makes plenty of frosting to cover the cake.

Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog, @My Kind of Cooking for great tips and delicious easy recipes! 


  1. One of my favorites! I love the French-style of cake making but American is my hands down favorite!


  2. What an awesome Birthday cake!

    This reminded me of my dad, he always liked yellow cake with chocolate icing,my mom always angel food with 7 minute frosting, and I love all chocolate.Of course mom made our favorite every Birthday!

  3. Que rico pastel,me encanta elaspecto.


  4. Such a classic. You really can't go wrong with a cake like this!

  5. Pam, this looks fabulous. I get to hear Martha Stewart speak at BlogHer tomorrow. Very excited!

  6. This looks like a lovely cake. Pinned!

  7. My Bill requests the same cake for his birthday!!! I will have to try this latest Martha recipe next...thanks!!!

  8. Bonnie, me too with the French cakes and for American, I favor carrot cakes or spice cakes.

    laurie, it must be a "man thing!" I like your mom's cake---angel food with 7-minute frosting... YUM!

    jose manuel, gracias! Es Es un pastel para los amantes del chocolate!

    Joanne, for sure, it's a classic cake!

    Buttercup, lucky you!!!! I'd love, love to be there in NYC to see Martha!!! And I love to know your thoughts of it!

    Megan, thanks and have a good weekend!

    Lizzy, it's a popular cake for sure and I make a different version of it every year.

  9. The icing sure caught my eye...looks heavenly! I have tried many chocolate icing recipes, but haven't been completely happy with any of them...Sure gonna check this one out!
    have a good evening

  10. I just blew my diet looking at the photo (I would so cheat on it with this!)

  11. mmmmmm! homemade yellow cake ~ delicious....four layers...i think we'll keep with the two like you!!

  12. Yellow cake is actually my all-time favourite. I will take it with any frosting, but chocolate sure does top the list :)

  13. Shug, thanks and I know what you mean!

    Curt's Delectables, thanks! It's chocolate!!!

    Claudia, I know what you mean! Thanks!

    TSKG, 4 would be great for more frosting, but 2 is great for less calories.

    Ellen, you and Bill agree on that! Have a good weekend, my friend!

  14. All of that yummy rich chocolate frosting mush have made Bill a very happy birthday boy!

  15. Yummy looking cake-butter cakes are a favorite in this family.

  16. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting used to be my requested birthday cake too when I was younger... I do believe my mom made hers from a box though! lol This sounds so wonderful.. and hey, my birthday's coming up too... maybe I will make it for old times sake!!

  17. I am so glad I came to visit today!! My daughter's favorite cake is yellow with chocolate icing!!! and now I have this delicious homemade recipe!! She will be so happy!

  18. I am so grateful for the invention of chemical leaveners then because butter cakes are what cake should be all about!

  19. Aww, Happy Birthday Bill! The cackle looks delicious!

  20. Linda, it did!!

    Lynda, it's definitely a fave here too!

    Jenn, whatever works! Bet your mom's were great!

    nanny, good! Glad you like it!

    TSOC, I agree. It's my fave type of cake.

    Ocean Breezes, thanks! And a have a good weekend!

  21. Pam, Nigel would love this too, maybe for his birthday in November?? Have a good Sunday. Diane

  22. Pam,
    Your birthday cake for Bill looks wonderful, no wonder he liked it:) That frosting sounds amazing.

  23. Diane, thanks! Have a good week!

    Becky, thank you! Yes, that's a lot of chocolate!


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