September 21, 2011

Birthday Week: Classic Browned Butter Yellow Cake with Rich Chocolate Buttercream {Naptime Everyday}

Yellow Cake

What’s Going on Today: Celebrating a friend’s birthday – a fellow Virgo – with a classic cake.

Naptime Goals: Bake cake and make buttercream, pick out wines!

Tonight’s Menu: A potluck with friends, I am bringing the cake!

Don’t forget BIRTHDAY WEEK on The Naptime Chef! This is my third birthday week post; see below for Birthday Favorite Things Giveaway details!

I have perfected yellow cake with chocolate frosting because it is my husband’s absolute favorite cake of all time. When we first started dating he informed me of this and mentioned that Duncan Hines was his preferred mix. I shuddered. A cake from a box? Perish the thought! This classic cake is one of those recipes you should have down pat since it can be used for just about any occasion. This time I made it I even gave it my own special twist, browning the butter at the beginning to infuse the cake with a deeper, nuttier flavor.

The key to using the browned butter is letting is cool down completely before proceeded with whipping it in the mixture. This creates the texture you want to start with. If the butter was totally warm liquid you wouldn’t be able to beat it into airy peaks! The rest of the batter come together in no time and was in the oven to bake while I made the buttercream. As the cakes were cooling my daughter came downstairs and offered to help me assemble the final vision. Naturally, I was happy to toss her an offset spatula, though skeptical of her intentions. An estimated quarter cup of the frosting when straight into her mouth while I frantically iced the rest of the cake before she could eat it all.

Since this was for a friend I opted to steer clear of the heavy-duty sprinkles. Though, when I’ve made this before for children’s parties we pile them on, embracing the idea that more is always better when decorating a cake! I happily trotted it off to her house before little fingers were able to reach the frosting. It was a terrific birthday celebration with a fellow Virgo, a classic cake for a classic friend.

Rules for Birthday Week Favorite Things Giveaway (including: Favorite Cookbook, Tea, Cookies, Tote Bag (above), Mixing Bowls (above) and Cookie Spatula):

1. Leave a comment sharing your FAVORITE birthday cake flavor to make for friends!

2. Subscribe to The Naptime Chef newsletter (upper right hand corner) – I’ll check!

3. Become a fan of The Naptime Chef on Facebook

4. Extra Entry: Share the link to this post with your friends on Facebook and link to @TheNaptimeChef Facebook fanpage

5. Extra Entry: Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and link to hashtag @TheNaptimeChef

6. Extra Entry: Follow me on Stumbleupon and stumble this entry by clicking the green thumbs up

7. 6 Extra Entries: Write a blog post between now and Thursday September 22nd about how you celebrate birthdays in your family and include a recipe for a favorite birthday cake or birthday dish and tell your readers about this post with a link back to it. You will be listed in the post next Friday September 23rd as an official sponsor.

8. Contest will run from September 15th at 7:00am through Saturday, September 24th at 7:00am. Winner will be announced on Sunday September 25th at 7:00am. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours a new winner will be drawn. Winner be selected by

9. Giveaway items can only be mailed within the continental US.

*Giveaway items generously donated by Andrews McMeel, OXO Good Grips and JMcLaughlin.


Classic Browned Butter Yellow Cake for a Classic Friend


3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 pinch kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups cultured buttermilk

For the Frosting:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
5 large egg whites
1 ½ cups superfine sugar
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. In a small skillet over medium heat warm the butter until it is lightly golden brown and has warm caramel-y flavor. Remove it from the heat and pour it into heatproof bowl and freeze it until just congealed. About 20 minutes.

4. Scrape the cooled butter into the mixing bowl and add the sugar. Beat it for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.

5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition.

6. Stir the buttermilk and vanilla together and add it to the wet ingredients, alternating with the flour mixture, until everything is incorporated but not overly beaten.

7. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean, the tops of the cake are set and they have pulled away slightly from the sides of the pans. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. To make the buttercream: Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl and warm them over simmering water for about 6 minutes, or until warm to the touch. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate together in the microwave and stir together. Set aside. Place the cooled egg whites in a mixing bowl and whip until they hold stiff peaks. Then beat it the butter in small pieces, followed by the salt, melted chocolate and vanilla extract. The frosting should be fluffy and light!

9. To assemble the cake, generously place one layer of buttercream between the two cake halves. Then spread the rest of the frosting around the sides and top of the cake. Lay it on thick! Serve and enjoy!

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This classic cake is truly awesome for every occasion. It is great for kids and adults and any time of year!


Naptime Stopwatch

30 minutes prep time, 30 minutes bake time



Naptime Reviews

This browned butter version was awesome and we all loved the extra flavor. If you’d rather just a classic yellow cake simply omit the browning the butter stage and work with regular room temperature butter.

3 Responses to “Birthday Week: Classic Browned Butter Yellow Cake with Rich Chocolate Buttercream {Naptime Everyday}”

  1. I love to make my husband my chocolate, chocolate, chocolate cake.  He loves it.

  2. Georgia Pellegrini says:

    I love brown butter… the nuttiness is unparalleled!

  3. […] classic yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting is a mainstay recipe in our house. It is my husband’s favorite cake of all time so it was no […]