How to Make Yellow Cake Layers

This butter cake is made via the “one bowl” or “reverse creaming” method which delivers a very moist and tender layer indeed. If you’re on the hunt not for a box-mix-style cake (that would be one of the “high ratio” cake layer recipes in the cake layer section) but rather a classic old-school yellow cake that many of us remember our grandmas making by hand, this is your cake. Start by assembling your ingredients. Put your (warm) egg yolks in a bowl, adding most of your (warm) milk and vanilla (need not be warm).


Put the sugar in the bowl of your mixer.

Then add your sifted flour. Me, I put a strainer on top of my mixer bowl, which I place on a scale. This makes it easy to weigh out the flour, then sift it directly into the bowl.

Once the flour is weighed out, spoon your leavening right on top (it’s always a good idea to sift your leavening with your flour, to make sure it gets evenly distributed). Stir it in a bit with your fingers, then push the mixture right on through the sieve (taking it off the scale first, of course).

Sprinkle in the salt afterward because the larger crystals will otherwise get hung up in your sieve/sifter.

Put on the beater attachment and turn the mixer on low, give the whole thing a good stir.

Add your very soft butter in large pieces (a spatula is better than a hand…this butter only held its shape for an instant [this photo] before it oozed all over the place)…

…and right away the reserved portion of your (nice room temperature) milk…

…and beat on medium speed until it’s well combined and you’ve got the basis of your emulsion started, like so:

Add a third of your egg mixture…

…beat it in…

…and scrape the bowl thoroughly (especially the very bottom by the dimple).

Keep going like that: add, beat, scrape…add, beat, scrape…until all your ingredients are in. Yes, this will take you a little while, but great cake can’t be rushed. Be patient. In the end you want a nice, smooth and glossy batter that looks about like this:

Using your scale, divide it evenly into prepared pans (instructions on how to prepare your pans are also over there on the right). Even it out a bit with a spatula, but don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth.

Bake according to directions until the center doesn’t “slosh” anymore and the top is golden. Let the layer cool in the pan on a wire rack for ten minutes or so…

…then turn the layer out onto the rack to cool for at least an hour.

And your layers, they are done.

5 thoughts on “How to Make Yellow Cake Layers”

  1. love the idea but there is no quantity or measures.
    What the measurements of milk and eggs, etc.

  2. Hi Joe,
    Just wondering if this cake could be used as the cake part of an upside down cake? Was thinking with peaches on the bottom? Also, would you reduce the sugar in that case?

  3. Hi Joe,

    If I want to make a 12 inch round cake (3 layers) can I use 1 batch of your chocolate butter cake and 1 batch of your yellow butter cake to create a marble cake? Will the 2 recipes yield enough for that size of cake? Or do I need to do one and a half recipe of each? Thank you.

    1. Hey Lycheemom, sorry for the late reply. Unfortunately two recipes for two-tier 9″ round cakes won’t be enough to fill three round 12″ cake layers. You’ll need to do an extra half recipe of one of them.

      Have fun!

      – Joe

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