I feel like I must wish you a happy Valentine’s Day because I’m not enough of a rebel to ignore it completely. Plus, as far as I’m concerned, we shouldn’t ever say no to having another day to celebrate our mutual love for chocolate. Yes, there’s always room for cute cookies and assorted pink things, but today, we’re going old school.
We go back to those kiddie birthday parties with those ridiculous paper hats with strings that dug into your chin but you ignored them anyway because you were too busy scarfing down salty potato wafers and guzzling some form of fizzy liquid. And chances are, there was a big, buttery cake with a buttery, sugary frosting that you got all over your face.
Today, we go back to that party, back to that cake, we feel a little old and guess what, we get to have frosting in our hair.
We had our first housewarming party this weekend with a giggly bunch of people I went to school with and we sat around reminiscing, drinking wine, listening to ridiculous early 2000s songs that were played at every single one of our birthday parties, recreating the dance moves we had for said songs, and there was no better time dive into this nostalgia cake.
This is one phenomenally buttery, moist cake for a batter that’s so straightforward. It’s a classic butter cake, yellow cake, whatever it’s called in your part of the world. It gets its incredible texture and sunny colour from the eggs, so I wouldn’t suggest substitutes here. I adapted it from Sally’s Baking Addiction with reduced sugar and yoghurt instead of the sour cream. Both changes still produced a perfect cake. I wasn’t too keen on a loaded buttercream frosting, because nostalgia unfortunately doesn’t apply to adult metabolism. Instead, I tried a less-sugar, more-cream version of her insanely good dark chocolate frosting and you guys, ohmygodohmygod. It tastes like chocolate fudge, melted chocolate and ironically, traditional chocolate buttercream all at once. Smooth, silky, not too sweet and just so incredibly good. Seriously, the reason to make this cake, is so that you can make the frosting to go with it.
Layering is recommended because there’s quite a bit of frosting, and it’s made less nerve-wracking by chilling the cake before slicing it so that the layers are easier to lift and move and all of that. A taller cake is absolutely possible if you bake two smaller cakes, 6″ or so. I used one 8″ pan and was supremely pleased with the result. The cake is most delicious at room temperature because the frosting is at its melty best at that point and you’ll be licking it off with a spoon (I hope) and probably ignoring the cake below it.
The cake is not dry and crumbly like butter cakes sometimes can be, like not at all. Soft, tender, fluffy and soooo moist. It would be an amazing base for whatever frosting you love the most, and is just a really great, dependable recipe to have on hand.
Slice after slice of this cake disappeared in front of my eyes and if you’re worried it’s too rich or too heavy, no one you feed it too will think so. For your own safety, make sure you have people to share it with!
Frosting techniques needn’t be perfect and in fact, to recreate the old school feel, a chocolatey mess is recommended. Get everyone involved and spread the love. Happy baking!
The cake and the frosting both need a hand mixer, or stand mixer. Doing the beating by hand will be harder and you may not get the same creaminess in the frosting.
- For the cake
- 2 and ¼ cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt, if using unsalted butter
- 1 cup butter, at room temp (230 gms)
- 1 and ½ cups caster sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup yoghurt, at room temp (preferably made of whole milk)
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temp
- For the frosting
- 2 cups icing sugar/powdered sugar
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- 6 tbsps butter, at room temp
- 6 to 8 tbsps cream (preferably whipping cream, which is thicker than regular cream)
- 2 tbsps milk, optional
- First make the cake. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt, if using. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 175 C and generously grease an 8" springform pan. You could also use two 6" pans to make a taller cake and adjust baking times as needed.
- Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the eggs and vanilla. Beat till combined.
- Add the yoghurt and mix well.
- Now add the flour mixture slowly, alternating with the milk, until both are completely mixed in. The batter will be thick.
- Pour into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 50 mins, covering the top loosely with aluminium foil about halfway through baking so that the top doesn't burn. The cake is done when a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean or only with a few moist crumbs. This cake takes a longish time to bake, and since all ovens are different, start checking for doneness around 40 minutes.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then, undo the sides of the pan and let it cool further. Once the cake is warm, but not hot, transfer it to the fridge to chill for about 1 hour. Leave the top and sides open to prevent sogginess.
- Use a long, sharp knife to slice off any uneven top bits of the cake, then slice the cake horizontally in the middle to create two layers. Using a large metal spatula, lift the top layer off and set aside.
- To make the frosting, sift the sugar and cocoa very well, there should be no lumps. In a separate bowl, beat the butter until fluffy, then add the sugar and cocoa mixture, alternating with the cream. Beat till smooth and creamy. If needed, add more cream or whole milk to get the frosting to a thick, but spreadable consistency.
- Spread about ⅔rd of the frosting on the lower half of the cake, taking care not to push it too near the edges because it will spill over when you place the top half on it.
- Now gently lift the top, place it on the frosted lower half and press down lightly. Spoon the remaining frosting on top and using a thin metal spatula, spread it evenly and push it down to the sides to coat them as well. Don't worry about a mess :)
- I recommend slicing and eating the cake immediately, but you can also chill it to give the frosting a chance to set a bit. Allow to come to room temperature before serving for the most decadent bites!
*Eggs give this cake its signature colour and texture. I suspect adding about ⅓ cup more milk instead will create a similarly moist cake, but for the most classic flavour, avoid substitutions.
*Room temperature ingredients prevent curdling of the batter. If for some reason your batter does curdle a little, it's still ok :)
*The original frosting contains 2 and ¾ cup sugar, but I found it to be thick and sweet enough in just 2 cups. In fact, I added more cream and milk to thin it out a bit. Play around with the sugar, cream and milk quantities to get your desired kind of frosting, you can't go too wrong :)