We had a joint birthday party for the girls this weekend for grandparents, godparents, and other adult friends in their lives. It was a lot of fun, but one of the highlights for Mama was finally settling on the ultimate scratch-made yellow cake recipe!
We did not expect to have this party on an 88Â° day, so I had to modify the menu a bit (no hot spinach-cheese dip, alas). The girls successfully blew out their candles, got their wishes (Ariel and Belle dolls, courtesy of Lucy’s godparents), and raced around in the glorious warmth on their new scooter and bike.
Since it was a joint birthday party (scheduled right between Lucy and Rosie’s true anniversaires), we had two cakes: a chocolate one and a yellow one, both frosted with cherry frosting (which, thankfully, did not completely melt in the heat). I’ve been searching for years, quite literally, to find a from-scratch yellow-cake recipe that is as good as a box mix: tender, moist, not too crumbly, and with a delicious vanilla flavor. Eureka!
Best Yellow Cake Ever
I found this recipe online, in the forum section of a cooking website which I’d never visited before. I don’t usually trust recipes that include six exclamation points in the title, but I’m glad I tried this one. I have modified the recipe slightly, as I found this amount of batter to be perfect for two 9” round cake pans (not three).
2¼ cups all-purpose flour (using the dip and sweep method)
1½ cups granulated sugar
3½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (I may decrease this a bit next time)
1¼ cups milk
some canola oil
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350Â°. Butter two 9” round cake pans very well, then line them with rounds of parchment paper. Butter the paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mixing well. Measure the 1¼ cups of milk in a 2-cup measuring vessel, then add enough canola oil to bring the liquid up to 1 1/3 cups.
Add the milk & oil mixture, butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed for two minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add the eggs and continue beating an additional two minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake at 350Â° for 25-35 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near center of cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.
Cool cakes on wire racks for 15 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Frost as desired.
Cherry Buttercream Frosting
Unsure about how to make cherry frosting, I came very close to flavoring this with Kool-Aid or Jell-O powder. But a very helpful sales clerk at The Spice House recommended using cherry juice concentrate for the liquid (instead of milk or cream), and it worked great — a lovely, delicate, authentic cherry flavor.
3½ sticks of butter, softened (or, heck, just use the whole pound)
6-8 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup black cherry juice concentrate (more or less)
1-3 teaspoons lemon juice (not strictly necessary, but this brightens the flavor)
red or pink food coloring (we love this brand)
Cream the butter, then add a few cups of powdered sugar. Beat together, then add a couple tablespoons of cherry juice concentrate and 1 teaspoon lemon juice and mix. Add more sugar (you’ll want at least six cups in there), cherry juice, and lemon juice until you arrive at the desired taste and consistency. If you want a stronger cherry flavor, add even more cherry juice, and then add more sugar to thicken it up. The cherry juice will give the frosting a light pinkish-brown hue, which you can intensify with food coloring as you like. Make sure you mix it up well to distribute the color evenly. Hand the bowl of frosting to your husband and watch him expertly frost the cake. (Or maybe that’s just in our house!)