Looking for a Classic Mini Yellow Cake recipe? You’ve found it! This 6-inch vanilla layer cake is full of vanilla flavor, a tender crumb, and the perfect base cake recipe. This particular recipe showcases Neapolitan flavors with vanilla cake, chocolate swiss meringue buttercream frosting, and a strawberry cream filling.
RECIPE IMPROVED AND UPDATED Dec. 2021
Classic Mini Yellow Cake
Truth time – it took me 2 months to test this mini yellow cake recipe, and countless layers of cake eaten. My goal was to yield a cake that had a tender crumb, stays moist beyond day one, didn’t collapse, and was the perfect mix of sturdy and fluffy. And, it had to be a mini, 6-inch cake.
This is that cake.
I couldn’t be more excited to finally have a classic yellow cake recipe that can serve as the base for many cake recipes. I believe once you have a delicious vanilla cake in your repertoire, the number of cake creations almost becomes limitless.
With a good base cake recipe, you can then start to experiment with different flavors, frostings, fillings, and assembly. Some easy flavor ideas off the top of my head:
- Almond – using almond extract
- Maple – using maple extract
- Lemon – a little lemon zest
- Warming spices – make it a fall cake with ground cinnamon and nutmeg
- Chai – ground cardamom and cinnamon
For flavor varieties, the only thing I would say is try to stick with ingredients that don’t add too much extra moisture or fat.
How about a variation for frosting and fillings for the base yellow cake? That’s where I started with this recipe. I kept the yellow cake a classic vanilla flavor but added more layers of flavor in the filling and frosting.
And the ultimate trio – vanilla + chocolate + strawberry. Otherwise known as Neapolitan. If you’ve ever had the ice cream, you know what I’m talking about.
We have the vanilla in the cake, so let’s talk about the chocolate and strawberry.
Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake Filling
It truly is what the name implies – whipped cream flavored with strawberry. Fresh strawberries to be exact.
- Whipped cream – this is simply heavy whipping cream beaten to stiff peaks.
- Strawberry puree – fresh strawberries blended in your smoothie blender or food processor. The only note I have here is it is your choice on whether or not you want to strain the puree to get the seeds out. I did not.
- Gelatin – this is optional. But since this is a cake filling, I wanted to make sure it was sturdy enough to not seep out the sides of the cake.
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream – See Recipe Notes
To be perfectly honest, Swiss Meringue Buttercream deserves a whole post to itself. That is in the works. But for this recipe, I gave plenty of notes to make the frosting.
If you haven’t had Swiss Meringue Buttercream, you must try it. The main reason – it isn’t as sweet as American Buttercream. The secondary reason – it is super light and fluffy, almost like a chocolate marshmallow cream.
And while it is still a buttercream frosting, the base starts with beaten egg whites, which keeps it light. Which also makes this great for chocolate frosting. Because I don’t know about you, but when I have chocolate frosting, I want to taste the chocolate, not sugar.
Perfect Birthday Cake
We’ve talked about flavor, filling, and frosting for classic yellow cake – but the most obvious use for the treat is Birthday Cake. The recipe as it makes this a perfect birthday cake, for any age.
I can’t think of any adult or child I know that would pass up on vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry cake. Throw on a few sprinkles and some candles and you have the cutest little birthday cake!
Tips For Making The Classic Yellow Cake
- Read the recipe first – There are times when I just jump into a recipe without reading it first, only to regret it. This is especially true for the frosting in this recipe. It is so helpful to know what to expect and what step is next. Not to mention, gathering all of your ingredients and kitchen tools ahead of time is so important.
- Room temperature ingredients – I can’t stress this enough, especially for cake recipes. It makes mixing everything together easier. Plus, when all the ingredients start at the same temperature, they bake better.
- Keep an eye on the baking time – Every oven is different and while my oven may finish baking the cake at 18 minutes, your oven may not take as long, or longer.
- Experiment with different flavors – We have a good vanilla cake recipe now, and the possibilities for different fillings and frostings are pretty exciting!
More Mini Cake Recipes
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Hot Milk Cake
- Mini Orange Creamsicle No-Bake Cheesecake
- Easy Chocolate Mini Cake
- Mini Apple Cider Cake
- Honey Orange Snack Cake
Classic Yellow Cake
Classic Yellow Cake
- 1/4 cup canola oil - or any neutral oil
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup sour cream - room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk - room temperature, any milk fat
- 1 large egg - room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Strawberry Cream Filling
- 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup - sweeten to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 2 large egg whites - room temperature
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter - room temperature – See Notes
- 2.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate - I recommend Baker's Chocolate
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- I recommend making the Strawberry Filling first. In a small microwave-safe prep bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes.
- While the gelatin is blooming, puree the strawberries with the maple syrup in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Once the gelatin has bloomed, microwave for only a few seconds to liquify the gelatin. This should only take 3 to 5 seconds. Do not over microwave. Whisk the gelatin liquid into the strawberry puree. Set aside.
- In another small bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks. Fold the strawberry puree into the whipping cream until thoroughly combined. At this point, you can sweeten the strawberry filling to taste – keeping in mind the cake and frosting are sweet. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line the bottom of 2 6-Inch round cake pans with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit. Lightly grease and flour the pans. Note – I like to use the Pam Baking Spray With Flour – makes things easier.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the milk and stir in the sour cream.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar and oil. Mix until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Add half of the milk mixture and mix until just incorporated.
- Sprinkle half of the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and fold into the batter until just incorporated. Add the remaining milk mixture and mix until mostly incorporated. Finish by sprinkling the remaining dry ingredients into the batter and fold just until no dry streaks remain. Do not overmix the batter, and it is ok if there are a few lumps.
- Pour the batter equally into the prepared cake pans and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the cakes are golden, spongy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Tip – Use a cookie scoop to equally portion the batter into the cake pans.
- Cool the cakes in the pans set on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then gently invert the cake pans onto the wire rack to release the cakes. Carefully peel away the parchment paper (if it stuck to the bottom of the cakes), and flip the cakes back over to cool on the wire rack completely.
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- While the cake is cooling, make the buttercream.
- You will need to create a double boiler. Start with a medium-size mixing bowl and a saucepan large enough for the bowl to sit on, without touching the bottom. Start to simmer about 2 inches of water in the saucepan. Gather your hand-held mixer and attach the whisk attachments. You will also need the regular beaters too.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate and melt in the microwave. Stopping to stir about every 20 seconds. It may take up to minute for the chocolate to melt. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs and add the egg whites to the mixing bowl. Be extremely careful not to get any yolk in the egg whites. Note – the mixing bowl and mixer whisk attachments must be clean and free of any grease or residue. You can wipe them with a paper towel and a tiny bit of vinegar to make sure they are clean.
- Add the sugar to the egg whites and mix until combined. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan of simmering water, and whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to turn white. The egg mixture is ready when it reaches 160 degrees (if you have a candy or digital thermometer) – or you can rub a little of the egg mixture between your fingers and it is smooth and no longer grainy.
- Remove the bowl from the saucepan and start to beat the egg whites with the hand-held mixer at medium speed. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. This may take anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes. Note – If the egg whites don't reach stiff peaks, chances are either the bowl or beaters were contaminated with oil or residue, or the egg whites had yolk in them. There is no saving them, and you will have to start over.
- Once the egg whites have reached stiff peaks, switch to the beater attachments. On medium speed, begin to add the butter 1 tablespoons at a time. Making sure each butter cube is mixed in before adding the next. Once you've added all of the butter, add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Continue to beat on medium speed until the chocolate is thoroughly mixed in and the frosting is smooth and creamy.
- At this point, the frosting is ready to use right away. Or you can cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Assembling The Cake – Place one cake on a cake stand or your serving plate. Top with the Strawberry Cream Filling – using as much or as little as you prefer (you may have a little leftover).
- Put the second cake on top of the strawberry filling. You can either pipe the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream on the cake, or simply spread it on with an offset spatula.
- The cake is best enjoyed the day it is made, but can sit covered at room temperature for 1 day. After that, I recommend refrigerating.
- Carefully separate the eggs. Any traces of egg yolk in the whites and the whites won’t beat to stiff peaks.
- Make sure the whisk beaters and bowl are clean and free of any oil or residue. Wipe down with a little vinegar on a paper towel. The egg whites probably won’t beat to stiff peaks if the bowl or beaters are dirty.
- I recommend a hand-held mixer to beat the egg whites. There is not enough mixture to beat sufficiently in a stand-mixer.
- Switch to the regular beaters when ready to add the butter.
- The butter shouldn’t be too soft, and it should still feel cool to the touch. Butter that is too soft will make the frosting soupy.
- If the butter is too soft, and the frosting is soupy, you can refrigerate the frosting for 10-15 minutes to cool it down, before continuing to beat in more butter.
- Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until it is fully incorporated before adding the next tablespoon.
- The melted chocolate needs to be cool before adding to the frosting. If it is still too warm, it will probably turn the frosting to soup. Refrigerating the frosting before continuing to beat can remedy this.
- The frosting is stable enough to stay at room temperature. However, I don’t recommend keeping the cake at room temp for longer than a day (especially if it is warm out). After that, I would cover and refrigerate the cake.