Back to Basics: Wonder Year Cake

What’s your cake preference? I don’t have one. I like my cake made and served any way.  If you have seen any of my other cakes or cupcakes you know spare and austere are not my usual cake carving way. But on occasions I also like a quiet, unassuming cake in design and flavor.

That said, this is a traditional yellow cake paired with, of course, a traditional chocolate frosting.  It’s the kind of cake that will remind you of your wonder years, when you drank milk out of a straw and a second serving wasn’t accompanied by any caloric contemplation.

So . . . yeah, go ahead and lick the frosting off the plate.

Wonder Year Cake

Yellow Butter Cake

Preparation: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 8-inch cake pans with bake spray.

  • 3 ½ cups cake flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a stand mixer bowl. Add butter and milk. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, egg whites, sour cream and vanilla extract. Add mixture to the batter in 3 additions, mixing for 2 minutes on medium speed after each addition. Scrape down bowl between each addition.

Divide batter evenly between 2 pans. Bake until layers spring back when touched lightly in the center, about 35-40 minutes.

Remove layers from the oven and cool completely in their pans on a wire rack. Release the sides and bottom of the cakes from the pans with a narrow metal spatula. Finish with icing.

Adapted from Culinary Institute of America

Chocolate Swiss Meringue

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled


Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.

Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume.

Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Add cooled chocolate and mix to combine.

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  • Tracy February 24, 2011  

    I love that you call it “Wonder Year” cake! It looks absolutely lovely, and yellow cake with chocolate frosting just happens to be one of my hubby’s favorites. Bookmarking this!

  • Amanda February 24, 2011  

    Love the name… and the memories behind such a beautiful and delicious cake! 🙂

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction February 24, 2011  

    That is an absolutely stunning cake! I haven’t tried chocolate swiss meringue yet, but I will definitely have to add it to my list to make soon!

  • Aimee @ Simple Bites February 24, 2011  

    Awesome. This is probably just like the party cake my grandmother used to serve. Classic and timeless.

  • Sylvie February 24, 2011  

    Yellow butter cake is my absolute favorite! It reminds me of my childhood birthday celebrations. To this day that is the cake I want for my birthdays.

  • Sammie February 24, 2011  

    The frosting sounds delicious… and how did you know I lick my plate?!

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles February 25, 2011  

    I like those pretty little frosting puffs – I do want to lick them off the plate! Love the name of the cake, and the words behind them, too.

  • Shaina February 25, 2011  

    Fantastic classic cake, Naomi!

  • Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies February 26, 2011  

    Mmm, this was always my favorite cake combination when I was younger. Your cake looks every bit as good as the ones I always devoured. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I’d like to invite you to stop by and link your cake up.

  • thecoffeesnob March 5, 2011  

    This cake just looks incredible! I take my cakes any way I can get them but a slice of your Wonder cake, what I wouldn’t give for it!

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