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Basic Yellow Cake

This basic cake can be doubled or tripled to create Individual Baked Alaskas, the Chrysanthemum Cake, the Chenille Panel Cake, or the Flower Power Cake. You will need to make enough batter to fill each cake pan three-quarters full. The batter can be made in batches for the larger cake layers.

  • Yield: Makes 1 eight-inch cake, 3 cups of batter
Basic Yellow Cake

Photography: Grant Peterson

Source: Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2000


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk


  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-by-2- inch round cake pan, line with parchment, and coat parchment with more butter. Flour the buttered pan, and tap out excess flour; set pan aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, and then the eggs, one at a time, beating each until fully incorporated before adding the next.

  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture and milk to the egg mixture in three additions, beginning with the milk and ending with the flour, and alternating with the milk.

  3. Transfer batter to prepared pan, and bake until the top of cake springs back when pressed and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan, transfer to cooling rack, and cool completely.
    Note: To make the baked Alaskas, bake this cake in an 11-by-17-inch baking pan until the top springs back and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack, and cool completely.

Reviews (13)

  • Kelectrolux1 17 Apr, 2014

    I had the same problem as another reviewer. My cake almost overran the pan and sunk in the middle. I'm going to torte it and decorate it in a Wilton class tonight so it's gonna be fine. Can you help me figure out what I did wrong? I really don't like baking 'fails'.

  • cscaccio 3 Apr, 2012

    This makes a very dense, pound-like cake which is very sweet. I used it for my son's birthday cake and everyone seemed to like it. It was not the light, fluffy cake I was after but was good with ice cream.

  • ericarice2 6 Jul, 2011

    This is a favorite recipe of mine. My whole family gets excited when I tell them I am making this one. It tastes great and is fairly easy to make for it to be made from scratch. I usually top it with homemade cream cheese icing and strawberries and blueberries. Yum!

  • lindelhart 19 Oct, 2010

    I made this as a birthday cake for my 5-year-old son's birthday party, using white whole wheat flour which darkened the color slightly and made it a little "healthier", and I mean just a little! Topped it with whipped cream, fresh whole strawberries and blueberries, and it was a HUGE hit. No one could believe it was a simple yellow cake recipe. Will definitely use it again.

  • EllyKonjkav 10 Sep, 2010

    tasted wonderful!!!!! i doubled the recipe and made them in 6 different colours and made a rainbow cake! absolutely DELICIOUS!!!

  • proudhousewife 5 Sep, 2010

    So to make a 2 layer cake just double the recipe?

  • proudhousewife 5 Sep, 2010

    So to make a 2 layer cake just double the recipe?

  • cdffirewife 28 Aug, 2008

    I have made these cupcakes countless times.... they scream "HOMEMADE"! I have had the best results with all room temp ingredients.... I even warm the milk in the microwave before using that!

  • Lov-ly-momma 25 Jul, 2008

    I Love this cake. I have made it for two birthdaypartys and I'm makeing it agin today. I don't think it's to sweet- great w/chocolate frosting!

  • Lov-ly-momma 25 Jul, 2008

    I Love this cake. I have made it for two birthdaypartys and I'm makeing it agin today. I don't think it's to sweet- great w/chocolate frosting!

  • Ginnie-bean 5 Jun, 2008

    I 've used this cake reciepe over and over agian to make wedding cakes for friends. It taste great. I got the best review just a few weeks ago. I did a cake two years ago and the couple left shortly after the wedding to do relief work in New Orleans, not able to get the top for 1st but ate it on the 2nd annivarsery and they said it was really good and still moist. Thanks for the reciepe.

  • krmez 4 Mar, 2008

    I chose this recipe because it was using a single 8in. pan and I only wanted a single layer of cake. I don't know wht happened but the cake overflowed in the oven and the middle sunk. Guess the real directions were to use 2 pans. You could tell that it would've been a good one though and we liked the flavor.

  • rafael1812 24 Feb, 2008

    i made this as cupcakes and they came out tooooo toooo sweet! i gave one to a diabetic! (shame on me.... She's okay) I'll try billy's vanilla vanilla cupcakes.