Old Fashioned Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing!

A simple yellow cake with a very simple chocolate icing is such a uncomplicated thing, but for some it's one of the best cakes you can make.    Those who are partial to this cake remember it being made by their mother's or grandmother's back when cakes were made from scratch and various ingredients to bake with were fairly limited.   My mother says this is the cake my grandmother made when she baked a cake for a birthday or some other sort of celebration and even though Mama baked all kinds of cakes when I was growing up, I do remember this being one of my favorites.  I am not really much of a milk drinker and never have been, but this is one cake that I like to have big glass of ice cold milk with. 

The key to this cake is the boiled icing, not so much the cake itself.   This is chocolate icing like my grandmother would have made, without confectioner's sugar, because they didn't have such a thing back then.  Making icing without confectioner's sugar, is tricky and not something most folks who write about food on the Internet have done much of.  I know, because I checked.  We can all thank my mother for remembering how to make chocolate icing, that you don't end up having to cut out like fudge, without using powdered sugar.

Here is what you will need for this cake: 

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla

Chocolate Icing

1/2 cup unsweetened powdered cocoa.
1 cup half and half cream
4 cups white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 stick of butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer.  Mix in eggs one at a time.   Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt together in another bowl. 

Gradually add the 1 cup flour at a time alternating with the buttermilk.  Stir in the vanilla.  Do not over mix.  Just mix until ingredients are well blended.

Prepare three 9" cake pans by spraying them well with nonstick baking spray that has flour in it or grease and flour the pans.   I also like to cut a circle of wax paper or parchment paper and place in the bottom of each pan and spray it.  

Pour the batter evenly between the three pans.  Place in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to sit about 10 minutes before turning out to cool.

While the cakes cool, prepare the icing.

To prepare the icing, place cocoa, half and half and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly.  When the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is almost boiling add salt and corn syrup.  Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat and cook, stir with a whisk constantly, until it reaches a soft ball stage.   This takes about 5 minutes.  To see if it's at a soft ball stage, drop a little in a glass of cold water and if it balls up, it's there or you can use a candy thermometer to determine this.  

Remove from the heat and add butter and vanilla.  Whisk until butter is melted and smooth.  Allow to cool.  The icing should be just barely warm.  Using an electric mixer, beat the icing until it is a smooth spreadable consistency. 

Place the cake layers on a cake plate, icing the tops of each one and then pour the rest of the icing over the top and smooth down the sides.  

  Old Fashioned Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing!



  1. Exactly like my grandma used to make. Delicious. Brings back a lot of memories that I love to think about. Thank you.


  3. Yummmmmy and than you for the email too. I hope to make this soon.

  4. When I saw the title of this post I actually squealed like a 6 year old girl. My Nannie used to make the best yellow cake and chocolate icing in the world and it was the icing that really made the cake. I have not tasted anything like it since she passed and I do not have her recipe. I think this is probably it and I can't wait to make this. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this receipe, and thank you for all your recipes.

  5. We call this a "Here Today Gone Tomorrow Cake" at our house because it never stays around for long.

  6. My grandmother used to make me a yellow cake with homemade chocolate icing every year for my cake ever!!!! I have tried every chocolate icing recipe there is and none come close. I bet this is it. Grandma was born in 1920 and they were poor, this sounds like the recipe. Thank you soooo much!!!!

  7. I hope to make this cake and decorate it for our dessert on Halloween night. Seems fairly easy to make and looks delicious! Thanks for the recipes and keep them coming!

  8. My mother use to make the best chocolate icing I have ever had. For some reason I can not duplicate hers. I have tried many recipes and I have had no luck. I will try yours and hope this is the one I have been looking for. Mother's icing got hard when she put it on the cake. That is the part I always liked.

  9. My husband and second son's favorite. Making this today as a surprise! Thank you for sharing.



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