Classic American Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing

Shannon Vavich
The chocolate icing has just a bite of bitterness to it and it pairs very well with the spongey vanilla cake.

Classic American Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing

Shannon Vavich
The chocolate icing has just a bite of bitterness to it and it pairs very well with the spongey vanilla cake.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
cooling time 3 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • three 8-inch round cake pans
  • stand mixer or hand mixer
  • a large mixing bowl to attach to the stand mixer, or to use with your hand mixer
  • a large bowl to mix your dry ingredients
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • rubber spatula
  • measuring bowls for liquids
  • small and medium prep bowls
  • a wooden spoon
  • a microwave


The Cake

  • 2 cups unsalted butter ( 4 sticks) softened
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 6 eggs room temperature
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups half and half or whole milk
  • Baker's Joy to prepare pans or use your preferred pan preparation method

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks). softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


The Cake

  • Getting Started: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. It's best to measure out all of your ingredients first. Make sure your butter is soft enough to hold the imprint of your finger or a spoon. Prepare your baking pans with Baker's Joy spray, or coat each pan with shortening, then dust with flour.
  • In a large mixing bowl and with a heavy duty mixer or hand mixer, cream the cups of butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix again.
  • Add the eggs, a couple at a time and stir on low to incorporate.
  • Whip until you have a smooth and custardy mixture.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon.
  • Measure your half and half into a measuring bowl/pitcher.
  • Add about 1/3 of the flour and 1/3 of the half and half. Mix on low (very slowly). Repeat. Repeat.
  • As soon as your batter is smooth, stop. Do not overmix at this point. If there are a few little lumps, that's fine. Just keep it like this.
  • Pour equal amounts of batter into your baking pans. It does not have to be perfect. Just eyeball it and do your best. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. You know how to see if it's baked through. Use the toothpick method if you prefer, but I usually just peek under the top crust and see if there is liquid or baked cake. If there is liquid or goo, I let it bake for a few more minutes. If I can see the bubbled crumb of a baked cake, then it know it's done.
  • Cool the cakes thoroughly before you ice them. Wash the bowls and utensils from your baking project and get ready to make the icing while the cakes are cooling.

The Icing

  • Getting Started: Measure and prepare all your ingredients. Make sure your butter is softened enough to stir. Melt 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave as so: Heat the chocolate chops at 30 second intervals and then stir. Heat the 30 seconds, stir the chips. Repeat. Do this three times for a total of 1 minute, 30 seconds. Stir well to complete the melting. Do not overheat or the chocolate will change from this viscous loveliness into a clumpy nightmare and you'll need to start over with new chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature before you proceed.
  • Combine the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in your mixing bowl.
  • Whip the butter/sugar/vanilla mixture until smooth and fluffy.
  • Now add the chocolate to the butter/sugar mixture. Be sure the chocolate is not hot. Let it cool to almost room-temperature before you mix it with the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on medium speed until it is stirred in.
  • Finish the mixing by using a spatula just to make sure it's totally mixed. Remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl.
  • When your cakes are totally cool, you can start the stacking and icing process. This is the fun part!
  • Fill each layer with the chocolate icing.
  • And ice the outside of the cake. You can use your offset spatula to make all kinds of nice swirls.
  • Serve big slices with milk and enjoy.
  • Thank you for trying this recipe!
    – Shannon Vavich


If you find you would like more instruction making cakes from scratch, icing them and even decorating them, please check back to this website for class updates. I have a lot more information and instruction for beginners and even intermediate bakers who would like to feel more confident in this process.
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