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layered yellow cake coated in chocolate frosted and topped with sprinkles displayed on a yellow cake stand

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Swiss Buttermilk

Chocolate yellow cake is a birthday classic. This version has three layers of yellow cake frosted with chocolate buttercream and topped with rainbow sprinkles.
Yield: three layer 6-inch cake
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: yellow cake, classic yellow cake, chocolate yellow cake, classic birthday cake
Servings: 10
Author: Maryanne Cabrera


Yellow Cake:

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened but cool to the touch
  • ¾ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Swiss Buttercream: (makes about 4 cups)

  • 6 large egg whites (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 4.5 oz chopped dark chocolate* (preferably 70% or darker), melted and slightly cooled


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 6-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2 cups flour (reserve remaining 1/2 cup of flour), sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a paddle attachment, run mixer on low speed. With the mixer running, add cut butter in three additions. Continue to mix on low speed until mixture is crumbly.
  • In another bowl, combine milk, eggs, egg white, and vanilla. Add half of liquid mixture to mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until incorporated. Add remaining half of liquid mixture and mix until batter is throughly combined. The batter may look curdled. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and mix until batter comes together. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.
  • Evenly distribute batter among prepared cake pans and level using a mini offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Run an offset spatula along the sides of the cake pan to loosen cake. Invert cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Swiss Buttercream:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites and sugar.  Place bowl over a pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. Make sure simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk sugar egg mixture until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees F.
    *Alternatively, if you don't have a thermometer, heat until all the sugar has melted. See notes below.
  • Return bowl to the stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat mixture at medium speed until it cools to room temperature and holds medium-stiff peaks.
  • Using a paddle attachment, mix on low speed. With the mixing running, add butter one tablespoon at a time. Once all the butter has been incorporated, add pinch of salt. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until buttercream is light and fluffy. Add melted cooled chocolate and mix on low speed until thoroughly mixed.


  • I used 90% dark chocolate. Use at least 70% dark chocolate to balance the sweetness of the buttercream.
  • Buttercream: Alternatively, if you don't have a thermometer, heat until all the sugar has melted.You can test this by dipped your pointer finger into the warm mixture and rubbing it against your thumb. The mixture should be smooth. You should not be able to feel the granules of sugar.
All images and text ©The Little Epicurean