September 10, 2020

Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting


September is my birthday month (along with seven other friends/family!) so I thought I'd make the quintessential cake to celebrate us Virgos.  When I was a kid my mom normally made us a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.   As a busy mother raising six children she used a boxed cake mix and pre-made frosting and we adored it!  Those memories are part of the reason why I think I still love cake mixes to this day.   There's no shame in getting a little help from Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines, but when I saw that Cook's Illustrated's Sep/Oct 2020 issue featured a recipe for Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting I had to try the "from scratch" version of the birthday classic.

Granted, there are more ingredients required than the standard eggs, oil and water you would use with a boxed mix, but I think you'll find it's worth it.   There are quite a few eggs (4 whole + 2 yolks!) along with buttermilk in the batter which yields a rich and moist cake.  The batter is made using the reverse creaming method where the cake flour, leaveners and sugar are mixed first, then the fats (butter and oil) are added and finally the liquid and eggs are mixed in.  This technique minimizes gluten development which results in a super tender crumb.  


After having a slice I have to say this is probably one of the best homemade cake recipes I've ever tasted.  There's absolutely no pretense with this cake and that's what I love about it.  Makes me so nostalgic for my childhood; those were the days!

Sending a September birthday shout out to Len, Will, Satya, Nicholas, Maria, Brian and Cheri!

Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting

4 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (9 oz) bleached cake flour
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 oz) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil 

2 1/4 cups (9 oz) confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
8 tablespoons (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted

FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Combine eggs and yolks, buttermilk, and vanilla in 2-cup liquid measuring cup and whisk with fork until smooth.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle. Mix on low speed until combined, about 20 seconds. Add butter and oil and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat until lightened, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add egg mixture. When mixture is fully incorporated, stop mixer and scrape down bowl and paddle thoroughly. Beat on medium-high speed until batter is pale, smooth, and thick, about 3 minutes. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. Tap pan firmly on counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 28 to 32 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

FOR THE FROSTING: Combine sugar, cocoa, butter, hot water, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Mix on low speed until combined, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue to mix until smooth, about 1 minute longer, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add melted chocolate and whip on low speed until incorporated. Let sit at room temperature until thickened to spreadable consistency, 30 to 40 minutes.

 Frost cake. Refrigerate until frosting is set, about 20 minutes, before serving.


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