I’m usually known for having yummy fresh baked treats around when people come over. If someone needs a cake for an occasion, they give me a call. I’ve tested and tweaked and developed recipes until I am POSITIVE that the flavor and texture of the finished product will be to my liking (and hopefully everyone elses’!)
But when it comes to a basic yellow butter cake, I have never been able to achieve what I wanted – a cake that tastes like a box mix. Now, I know! The big debate between box mix versus scratch rages on! I normally bake from scratch but let’s face it, it is tough to beat the texture and flavor from a good ‘ole Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker box! Plus, they are so darn fast to throw together!
I have realized, though, that scratch cakes don’t take much longer to make and you have complete control over the outcome – which can be either a good or a bad thing! I mean, if I measure an ingredient wrong or leave one out because the kids distract me, the recipe could be a complete failure.
But playing with the ingredients and ratios and all the other variables has become fun for me. If something doesn’t turn out, I grab my notes, make some alterations and try again. And, let me tell ya’, there have been lots of do-overs with my yellow cake recipes! I have tried multiple recipes from cookbooks, pinterest, blogs, etc. And I have heard my frustration echoed in other bakers’ pleas for the perfect yellow cake!
I know it exists. The perfect recipe is out there. I thought that maybe I was doing something wrong – mixing too much, not creaming long enough, wrong choice of flour, ingredients not at room temperature because, let’s face it, I’m not known for my patience!
Obviously, others had achieved their desired outcome or these recipes wouldn’t be printed in books or posted on blogs. But when I tried them, I either ended up with an average cake or something that was not good at all! Usually it is the texture that is off for me. I want soft, tender, moist (yes, I used the ‘M’ word!), and buttery.
I started my morning yesterday with yet another yellow cake recipe – this one from a book that has given me some other very tasty treats! But the recipe called for 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yokes plus 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, all purpose flour and 1 stick of butter. Now, these cupcakes had a good flavor and my hubby and kids will not let them go to waste! I’m sure of it! But to me they were too egg-y and dense. So I switched out the all purpose flour for cake flour. (I don’t always have cake flour on hand but I can make my own if needed – I will test that out with this recipe later and update this post with the results!). I also increased the sugar for a bit more tenderness, increased the butter a bit for a really buttery flavor, changed out the buttermilk for some sour cream and added almond extract because I just love the flavor it adds to a cake! I also changed out the 2 eggs + 4 yolks for 3 eggs, straight up.
So, yeah. A completely new recipe. I checked out the ratios and was pretty sure I would end up with a rich cake but one that would set. So I baked them up and, let me tell you, I think this is it! My husband and son agree – 100% better than the first recipe and others that I have tested lately!
I think that one of the really important changes that I made was in the mixing. I combined the wet ingredients in a stand mixer but as soon as the dry ingredients were added, I mixed completely by hand with a rubber spatula until JUST mixed. I mixed long enough that there was no dry flour visible but ONLY until it was mixed in. I think reducing the eggs and mixing very gently were both key. Mixing with a stand mixer would activate the gluten and make the end result much tougher. By using cake flour instead of all-purpose, the protein content is reduced and, mixing by hand keeps the gluten from developing.
So I believe that this in now my go-to yellow cake recipe! I made cupcakes this time. I will try it in cake pans soon and update with baking times, etc! This cake would be a great base for so many fillings and toppings.
Best (EVER) Yellow Cupcakes (HONEST!)
Makes 24 cupcakes.
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/4 cups sour cream OR plain greek yogurt, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake tin with paper baking cups. (I use a 24 cup tin so I can bake the entire batch at once – find my tin “>here.)
- Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. (Don’t take a short cut here – actually sift these together – twice if you can!)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Set the mixer on low speed and add one egg at a time, mixing between each addition until incorporated.
- Turn the mixer off and add vanilla, almond extract and sour cream OR greek yogurt. Mix on low until incorporated then turn up to med-high for 1 minute.
- Add half of the sifted flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir by hand until the dry flour is incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture.
- Scoop about 1/4 cup batter with an “>ice cream scoop into prepared muffin tin. I like to use a scoop with a thumb release lever. Each cupcake liner should be about 3/4 full.
- Bake at 350° for 16 to 18 minutes or until cupcake springs back when lightly touched. Allow to cool in the pan for 3 to 4 minutes than remove to a cooling rack. Add your favorite frosting once the cupcakes are completely cool.
Let me know if you try this recipe and how it turns out for you!