I’m not much of a recipe repeater. Of course, I have a few perennial favorites. Like my pumpkin gooey butter cake, and these salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. I make those once a year, without fail.
But most the time, I try new things. I even have the data to prove it: In 2019, 84% of the things I baked were new to me.
It’s not that I don’t have favorites. I just get so intrigued by flavor combos and ideas, and HAVE to try them. And since I don’t really bake thaaaat often, I have to pick and choose.
It turns out these rules don’t apply when someone else is doing the baking. When I go home to visit my family, I pretty much expect to have all the same things I had growing up. That means zucchini and applesauce bread at Thanksgiving. Banana chocolate chip muffins for New Year’s. And DEFINITELY this Yellow Cake with Mint Chocolate Frosting for any and all birthdays.
My mom made this every year for as long as I can remember. Once, when I was about 25, she swapped in orange extract for mint to surprise me. Orange/chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combos. But… I didn’t want it in this cake! It was technically delicious, but nostalgically, just not the same. It’s gotta be chocolate mint, or not at all.
I haven’t been home for a birthday in years so it’d been a while since I had this cake. And during the first month of quarantine, I just couldn’t stop craving it! So I made one.
The recipe comes from an old cookbook based around ideas for your Cuisinart food processor. I’ve never tried making this in a mixer, but you probably could. The cookbook makes you use a food processor for everything, even when it’s not totally necessary. I guess they had to fill a whole book, ya know?
My mom came up with the mint extract addition herself, and I highly recommend it if you’ve got extract on your hands. If you don’t, plain chocolate frosting would also be swell. It’s got a great richness and texture so it really adds something special to the fluffy yellow cake. Yellow cake isn’t so much a “flavor” as it is a texture and richness. It gets that richness from butter and whole eggs. It’s a lot simpler than some of the other cakes I’ve posted here. But just so. darn. good.
Yellow Cake with Mint Chocolate Frosting
Original recipe: Cuisinart Classroom, by Abby Mandel. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.
Yield: This recipe technically yields 3 cake layers, but the frosting is only enough to cover 2 layers. If you want to frost all 3, multiply the frosting ingredients by 1.5x and you should be set. That’s what my mom does 🙂 The original recipe claims that this makes 12 servings, but that obviously will depend on how you cut the cake!
Suggested equipment: Food processor. You could probably just use a mixer, too.
Total Time: A few hours or so. You want to let those layers really cool before you frost them!
Cook Time: 30 minutes
For the cake:
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces (6 ounces)
- 1 cup minus 1 tbsp buttermilk (so measure a cup, then measure 1 tablespoon and pour it out)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 tsp mint extract
- 4-5 tbsp sour cream
Make your cake
- Preheat your oven to 375F
- Sift together your flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
- Put your sugar and eggs in the food processor, and process until it’s thick and lightly colored. This should take a minute or so, using the metal blade attachment.
- Scrape the sides of your bowl, then turn it back on.
- Add your butter, and process the machine for about a minute. It should look fluffy! You might want to stop and scrape down your bowl halfway through.
- With the machine running, pour the vanilla and buttermilk through the feed tube.
- Stop the machine, remove the cover and pour in your dry ingredients. Then blend the batter by turning your machine on and off until the flour disappears. This should take 4-6 pulses.
- Line 3 cake pans with parchment, then grease them. Divide your batter among the pans.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then flip them onto a wire rack to cool completely. You gotta let them sit for a while before you frost them, or your frosting will get too runny!
Make your frosting
- Put your cocoa, sugar and salt in your processor work bowl. Using the metal blade, process them for 5 seconds.
- Add the vanilla, butter, mint extract and 4 tablespoons of your sour cream. Process until it gets a thick, spreadable consistency. You can add the remaining sour cream if you need it for a spreadable texture.
Frost your cake
My cakes will never win a prize for their looks. I take a super lazy approach to frosting. Put one layer on a sturdy surface, and slather the top with frosting. Plop another layer on top, and repeat as needed with your layers. Then, use a spatula or angled spatula to spread more frosting on the very top and all around the sides. Smooth it out the best you possibly can. But don’t stress too much. It’s cake, and it’s gonna taste great no matter what.