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Yellow Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting

yield: 1 (6-inch) cake


For the Yellow Butter Cake

  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Simple Syrup Soak

    (makes 1/4 cup, enough for one 6-inch cake)

    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup water

    For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting

      (makes around 3 cups, enough for one 6-inch cake)

      • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably with 62% cacao
      • 2/3 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
      • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
      • 2 large egg yolks
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


      For the Yellow Butter Cake

      • Prepare a 6-by-3 inch round cake pan by liberally spraying with cooking spray and dust with flour. Tap out the excess flour.
      • Preheat the oven to 350 (F).
      • In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 heaping teaspoon of kosher salt. Set aside.
      • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 7 tablespoons unsalted butter with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until extremely light and fluffy, about 10 to 12 minutes (see baker's note above).
      • Once the butter and sugar is completely light and fluffy, lower the mixer speed to its lowest setting and add 5 egg yolks one by one. Add each egg yolk one at a time, only adding the next egg yolk when the one prior has been completely incorporated into the batter — it should take around 2 minutes per addition. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula before adding more yolks. Once all the egg yolks have been incorporated into the batter, raise the speed to medium-high and beat for another 30 seconds to fully combine.
      • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1/3 cup buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. With the mixer on its lowest speed, add the dry ingredients (from the 3rd step) in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. After each addition, beat until just combined — DO NOT OVERMIX at this stage, or you'll end up with a dense, tough cake that will make me sad. To avoid overmixing, you can turn off the mixer during the last addition of the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and fold the remnants of any dry ingredients into the batter by hand.
      • Use a rubber spatula to transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top into an even, flat layer. Bake in the preheated oven until the cakes are lightly browned and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
      • Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. When the cake has cooled enough to handle the pan but still a tad warm to the touch, carefully run an offset spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen it, then invert the cake onto the rack and remove from its pan. Let cool for about 20 minutes more, before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating to ensure that the interior is completely cooled before decorating, at least 1 hour or for up to 3 days.

      For the Simple Syrup

      • In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar — the mixture should reduce to around 1/4 cup's worth of liquid. When the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is clear, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before using. The simple syrup will keep, tightly sealed in the refrigerator, for up to 1 month.

      For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting

      • Combine 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate and 2/3 cup confectioner's sugar in a medium, heatproof bowl.
      • In a small saucepan over medium, bring 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream to a gentle simmer, whisking occasionally. Pour the hot cream into the medium, heatproof bowl containing the chocolate and confectioner's sugar mixture (from the 1st step). Stir the mixture with a heatproof, rubber spatula until the sugar is dissolved.
      • Once the sugar has dissolved, nestle the medium, heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan of simmer water to make a double boiler — be sure that the water in the saucepan doesn't touch the bottom of your heatproof bowl. Gently cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.
      • In a separate, smaller heatproof bowl, whisk together 2 large egg yolks. Pour about 1/2 cup of some of the melted chocolate mixture into the yolks while whisking, to temper them. Pour the tempered mixture back into the larger, heatproof bowl containing the rest of the original mixture and whisk to combine. Add 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and stir until smooth.
      • Allow the ganache to cool for about 10 - 15 minutes, before using immediately.


      • When the yellow cake is completely cool and slightly chilled, use a serrated knife to level the cake by removing the dome from the top of the cake.
      • Once the cake has been leveled, divide the cake horizontally into two, equal layers. Use your hands and a pastry brush to brush away any excess crumbs.
      • Once you've brushed away any excess crumbs from the cake layers, brush the top of each cake layer with a generous amount of simple syrup. Each cake should receive about a 1/8 cup of simple syrup.
      • Set your bottom cake layer on a work surface (or a serving platter) and scoop about 1 cup chocolate ganache frosting on top, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly across the cake top. Nestle the second cake layer on top, and use the remaining chocolate ganache frosting to cover the cake entirely. I decorated my cake with messy swirls and chocolate chips, but you can opt for the smooth or piped look if you prefer — the recipe gives you plenty of frosting to play with. Enjoy!


      Adapted from Miette Cookbook‘s Bumblebee Cake Recipe