recipe image

Moist and Light Yellow Cake

  • Prep time
    30 minutes
  • Cook time
    35 minutes
  • Serves
Author Notes

One of my quests has been to find a yellow cake recipe that I love. I have tried what seems like hundreds and although some are really good they were not exactly what I was looking for. I wanted the cake to be tender and light and moist. I was speaking to my Mother on the phone and we always discuss food and recipes. I happened to mention that I have been searching for a great recipe for yellow cake and she said she had a recipe for me to try. This recipe is from the 1950’s and she made this cake for our family. I remember her cakes were always amazing. This is my Mom’s recipe, she said it took a very long time to get it right and It’s one of the best yellow cakes I’ve tasted. The back story behind this cake means a lot to me, my favorite cake as a child (still a favorite now) is Boston Cream Pie, my Father always bought one at an Italian bakery in my hometown, the cake was light as a feather, everything about it was amazing. I always requested this cake for my birthday. When we moved my Mom in an effort to make sure I had my favorite cake developed this recipe.

When I made it my search was over. Its light, tender and moist. Holds well with fruit filling as well as a buttercream and any way you make it its delicious. The cake is a combination of a yellow cake and a chiffon cake. It rises beautifully and is very simple to make.


Test Kitchen Notes

Sometimes, you come by a recipe in such a backwards way that the only explanation must be that you were meant to make this dish. This was the case with Tender Yellow Cake.

Let me first state that I do not need any more cake recipes. Or cookies or pie or slumps or macaroons or confections of any manner. (Or is it nor? Someone will no doubt weigh in.) My point is that my folder of savory recipes is about 1/3 the size of my dessert one (this would be manila folders that I have been “organizing” for the better part of a decade) and I need not be on the troll for more sweet stuff.

But then I had this lovely little container of currants from the farmer’s market, the sort of thing one purchases with no plan at all and finds herself dismayed that one is not automatically revealed as the week goes on. I tried drying them in an oven. Fail. I put them on a tray outside, but nothing happened other than the growing sense of paranoia that a small animal or bird gave the berries an unsanitary lick.

Amanda, who tires of my late night instant message rants about ingredient confusion, suggested I put my currants in a cake. A mad search ensued, and this cake looked so incredibly delicious, I decided to make it instantly. Then, I came up with an even better idea–make the incipient do it.

I would like to report to you that she abandoned her Facebook page cheerfully to do so, but let’s settle for the fact that she was rewarded with the satisfaction of a cake well baked, and stopped grumbling once it came out of the oven.

This is truly a child’s cake in terms of ease; a few eggs whipped up are the only tiny small extra step you take. The results are truly amazing, especially given the effort: it has the light texture of a sponge cake, with the deep vanilla kiss of a heavier cake. I will take this moment to once again praise the use of oils in cakes, which I think often yield something far easier and delicious than my beloved butter versions.

The only things we did differently from sdebrango is make it in a sheet pan (baked for 30 minutes on the nose; your oven may vary) simply because we felt like it; use the standing mixer the entire time, because we’re lazy, and eat it while it was still hot, because we really could not stand to wait.

This cake was very fine on day two, when I covered it with the currant compote I made stove top (pint of berries, ¼ cup of sugar, and ¼ cup of water cooked for quite a while). As it turns out, the cake is a perfect vehicle for syrupy things. “The absorption rate is spectacular,” commented my colleague, C, as I presented him with the cake after a particularly tedious vote. This is true. But I would eat it plain, right out of the pan, happily. —Jestei

  • Test Kitchen-Approved


  • 3

    large eggs separated and at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups


  • 2 1/4 cups

    cake flour

  • 3 teaspoons

    Baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon


  • 1/3 cup

    neutral oil, plus 1 tablespoon

  • 1 cup

    Half&half, whole milk (1 or 2% work also)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare three 8 or two 9-inch round baking pans, butter or use cooking spray the bottoms and line with parchment rounds, butter or spray again bottoms and sides and dust with flour.
  3. Beat egg whites until frothy then add 1/2 cup of the sugar (reserving the rest) a tablespoon at a time until egg whites are stiff and glossy. Set aside.
  4. Sift flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt into large mixing bowl if you are using a hand held mixer or into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add the oil, milk, egg yolks and the vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed, mixture will be quite thick. I actually prefer to use a hand held mixer for this recipe.
  5. Fold in egg whites and distribute into the baking pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10-20 minutes in the pan then turn out onto cake rack to cool completely. Note; I highly recommend using a soaking syrup (simple syrup flavored as you like) brushed on the layers. The cake is similar to a sponge cake and needs a little extra moisture. If using a fruit filling like berries you can skip the syrup.

I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, am self taught learning as I go. I come from a large Italian family and food was at the center of almost every gathering. My grandfather made his own wine and I remember the barrels of wine in the cellar of my grandfathers home, I watched my mother and aunts making homemade pasta and remember how wonderful it was to sit down to a truly amazing dinner. Cooking for me is a way to express myself its my creative outlet. I enjoy making all types of food but especially enjoy baking,
I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I share my home with my two dogs Izzy and Nando.
I like to collect cookbooks and scour magazines and newspapers for recipes. I hope one day to organize them.

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