Baking 101: Basic Yellow Cake

This recipe is my version of a basic yellow cake recipe.  I will attempt to keep the preamble for this recipe short, but just know that there were a lot of really crappy and very dry cakes made along the way to getting this recipe just right. Want to know the secret to a cake with rich texture and a delicate crumb? Mayonnaise. Though its not my favorite condiment, mayo is an amazing ingredient as far as increasing the fat content of your baked goods, which, in turn, increases the moisture and richness of your cake.  So bust out the Helmann’s and get baking!

Baking 101: Yellow Cake, makes two 8”rounds or 24 cupcakes

The magic ingredient: Mayonaise


  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4  cup mayo-use your preferred brand (mine, as well as INA FREAKING GARTEN’S, is Helmann’s. Its up to you just stay away from the Miracle Whip)
  • 1/2 Cup whole Milk
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract or the extract of your choice (subbing booze for vanilla is also fun)
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 cups cake flour (AP flour will work in a pinch)
  • Greasing agent for cake pans such as shortening, butter, or non-stick cooking spray
A prepared cake pan that has been greased with butter or shortening and dusted with AP Flour to ensure your cake comes out easily


  • An electric stand mixer (I use a Kitchen Aid) or a hand held mixer
  • Rubber spatula for scraping sides of bowl
  • Metal sieve for sifting flour
  • Large bowl for mixing/sifting dry ingredients together
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Small pitcher or measuring cup for milk
  • Cake pans of your choice, greased, dusted, and lined with parchment with flour depending on choice of pan
  • Parchment paper or cupcake liners depending on chosen cake pan

The Process:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Sifting your flour is an important step for a well mixed, yet tender, cake

2) In another bowl, sift together your cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3) Using an electric mixer on medium speed (or whatever mixing method you prefer), cream your butter and sugar together for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of your bowl.

5)  Add your mayonnaise and eggs one at a time to your mixture until thoroughly combined.

6) Turn your mixer on low. In two batches, add your dry ingredients to the cake batter making sure to gently scrape the sides of bowl between batches (you do not want to knock out any air out of your mixture).

7) In a measuring cup or small pitcher (makes for easy pouring), mix together your vanilla extract and milk. On low speed (prevents splatter), add your milk/vanilla to your mixer bowl and mix until just combined.

8) Place your batter in a greased pan. This recipe will make 2, 8” round cakes or 24 cupcakes.

If using 8” rounds: place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of your pans and grease with shortening, butter, or non-stick cooking spray. For an extra dose of non-stick, dust the sides of the pan with flour, making sure to dump out any excess. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 25-30 minutes rotating the pans halfway through cooking. The cakes are done when you can insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake and it comes out clean.

If making cupcakes: spray the top of your cupcake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Line the cupcake tins with paper liners. Using an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons divide the batter as evenly as possible among the cupcake tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes rotating the pans halfway through cooking. The cakes are done when you can insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake and it comes out clean.

9) When the cakes are done, take them out of the over and let them cool on a wire rack. Make sure they are completely cool before icing.

  • Storage: Store cakes in an airtight container.
  • Freezing: To freeze the cakes, place cupcakes in a Ziploc bag or wrap cake rounds in a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. They will store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
The finished cake topped with simple whipped cream

Side Note: This recipe is a smidge pale for yellow cake, but what it lacks in color it makes up for in texture. Dry cake usually calls for an increase in fat, hence the addition of the mayo. Unfortunately, the mayo is what makes this cake a little pale. I tried all kinds of changes to the recipe from decreasing the amount of flour to adding additional egg yolks, but none had the texture/flavor payoff of mayo.

Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah, this is an unsponsored post, blah, blah, will someone please start giving me money for these.

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