Perfect Yellow Cake

by , on
Jul 21, 2018

I’m a firm believer in having a few great, reliable recipes in your back pocket, and using them for just about everything you need. Yellow cake is definitely one those for me.

Perfect Yellow Cake 4

Baking cake from scratch at a high-altitude is tough stuff, some of the hardest really when it comes to high-altitude baking. But the great thing is, once you find a recipe that works, you can use it for a million other things, and you can dress it up any which way.

Perfect Yellow Cake 1 Perfect Yellow Cake 2

This cake is really simple actually, and the texture is perfect once baked. For the classic version, of course we’re flavoring it with vanilla extract, and otherwise just letting the butter flavor shine through. That’s what you really want in a yellow cake.

Perfect Yellow Cake 3

Think of this as your base for everything. I use this recipe, or some variation of this recipe, for about a million other cakes. Here’s some fun ideas:

You can use any extracts that you prefer here. You can also replace the milk with other liquids, like citrus juice, coffee, or even alcohol to make a cocktail flavored cake. Top with crumbs, fill it with chocolate chips, layer it between frosting, do just about anything with this simple, easy to whip up cake. Seriously.

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I topped mine with a simple chocolate ganache for this post, but you can throw any kind of buttercream on top, or just dust it with powdered sugar. The options are endless, sorry I keep mentioning more!

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This is the best yellow cake recipe if you live at a high-altitude. I hope this relieves all your cake woes, it definitely has fixed many of my own! Enjoy!

Perfect Yellow Cake

This recipe makes one 8-inch round cake. You can double or even triple it very easily for larger projects, and it adapts well to cupcakes also! 

Servings 8 slices


  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar, heaping
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. milk


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8-inch round or square cake pan. Set aside. 

  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, eggs, and sour cream until combined- the mixture will be lumpy. Then, add in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat until combined. Add in the milk, and beat for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture is very smooth. 

  3. The batter will be thick. Pour into your prepared pan, and spread it evenly. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, and top or use as desired!

classic + quick + easy


  1. Molly Yost Browndorf

    August 23, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    This looks great! But can you use it if you're not in high altitude??

    • Dough-Eyed

      August 23, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Hi Molly! Since I'm not at sea level I can't say for sure that it will work with these adjustments, but I would suggest adding 2-3 tablespoons LESS flour, and 1/8 tsp. MORE baking powder. Again, these are just suggestions since I can't test recipes at sea level! Hope that is helpful!

  2. Ginger

    February 10, 2019 at 4:58 am

    I’m going to use this for a Boston Creme Pie!

    • Dough-Eyed

      February 19, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      Hey Ginger! Awesome, it's a great recipe!!

  3. PM

    March 22, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    At what elevation did you work out this recipe?

    • Dough-Eyed

      March 25, 2019 at 12:05 pm

      Hello! I live in the Denver area, so at around five thousand feet!

  4. Angela

    June 8, 2019 at 6:36 am

    The pictures on you site make me crave sweets. I found you looking for a basic high altitude cake recipe. I'm looking for a recipe with basic ingredients that I always have on hand. Sour cream is never in my pantry because no one in the family will eat it. Same goes for plain yogurt. Can you recommend a substitute or suggest another go to basic cake recipe?

    • Dough-Eyed

      June 8, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Angela!! So glad you found my site! So another good substitute is mayonnaise. I know that sounds weird, but it works beautifully!

      • Angela

        June 21, 2019 at 9:55 am

        Well we certainly have mayo. In the meantime I picked up a small container of sour cream for a first go. Now I think I'll make two layers one with sour cream the other with Mayo to see if any one notices or can taste the sour cream. I'm out near DIA so if I mess up I won't be able to blame the altitude. Looking forward to baking again. Thank you.

        • Dough-Eyed

          July 2, 2019 at 10:33 pm

          Awesome, I think that will work well for you!

  5. Melonie Schutte

    May 24, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    OH MY GOSH!! You are my hero! Just tried your yellow cake recipe and so far it looks really good. Just took it out of the oven and it didn't fall! I'm at 7300 feet. My sister is at 10500 and she's going to try it too. Thank you soooooooo much!!

    • Dough-Eyed

      May 26, 2020 at 11:31 pm

      So glad to hear it!! I love this recipe, use it all the time!!

  6. Gayle

    August 29, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    We are at 7200 ft elevation. I made the cake as directed but it still fell in the middle. What did I do wrong?

    • Dough-Eyed

      August 31, 2020 at 2:37 am

      Hi there! I'm sorry to hear it didn't work- we are at slightly different altitudes, here's what I suggest- add an additional tablespoon of flour, and try another mixing method. It sounds odd, but try to put everything in the mixing bowl at once, and beat until just combined. It's an odd method, but this cake can be particularly sensitive to over-mixing, and this will avoid that. I hope that helps!

  7. Maggie Getz

    March 22, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Hi there! Would this recipe work well for a sheet cake?

    • Dough-Eyed

      April 2, 2021 at 9:14 pm

      Hi there- you can use this recipe as a sheet cake, yes. In either case- if you're doing a 9×13 inch or a half-sheet pan, you should be able to double the recipe. For a 9×13, it will likely take longer to bake, and for a larger sheet pan with a thinner cake, it may not take as long to bake, so you'll want to check it about 5-10 minutes earlier than this recipe calls for.

  8. Sandy Thomas

    September 12, 2022 at 8:54 am

    How would cake flour work in this recipe?

    • Dough-Eyed

      September 17, 2022 at 3:21 pm

      I would not swap cake flour in this recipe- cake flour won't have as much structure and in this particular recipe that will be a problem.


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