Golden Vanilla Cake with Fudge Frosting

There’s vanilla cake and then there’s golden vanilla cake.


Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch/23 cm round cake or one 3-layer, 8-inch/20 cm round cake

Serves 16 to 20

Prep Time:

 25 minutes, plus cooling

Cook Time:

 35 to 40 minutes



About this Recipe

Recipe from Baking Day with Anna Olson
Appetite by Random House, 2020

A buttery yellow colour hints at the moist, rich vanilla cake that isn’t at all crumbly and pairs well with just about any frosting, and this fudge frosting is divine.



  • 2½ cups (325 g) cake and pastry flour (see note for gluten-free option)
  • 1¾ cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder (certified gluten-free, if needed)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in pieces 
  • 1¼ cups (310 mL) buttermilk 
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) vanilla extract

Fudge Frosting:


  • ¾ cup (175 g) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 4 oz (120 g) semisweet couverture/baking chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups (390 g) icing sugar
  • ½ cup (60 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (250 mL) full-fat sour cream 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine salt


Gluten-free option

Replace the 2½ cups (325 g) cake and pastry flour with 1⅔ cups (220 g) brown rice flour mixed with ½ cup + ⅓ cup (100 g) tapioca starch and 1½ tsp xanthan gum. Bake, assemble and eat the cake within a day of baking (or else bake, cool and freeze the layers, thawing on the counter before frosting), as some gluten-free cakes get sticky on the surface after a day.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two 9-inch (23 cm) or three 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and dust the sides with flour, tapping out any excess.

Step 2

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix it in at medium-low speed until it is no longer visible, about a minute.

Step 3

Whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla together in a separate bowl and add these wet ingredients all at once to the flour mixture. Start mixing at low speed until roughly combined and then increase the speed to medium, beating the batter until smooth and creamy, 90 seconds. Pour the batter into the pans and give the pans a tap to knock out any air bubbles. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step 4

Cool the cakes in their pans on a cooling rack for 20 minutes and then tip them out onto the rack to cool completely before frosting. The cake layers can be made a day ahead, wrapped individually and left on the counter before assembling, or they can be frozen for up to 3 months before thawing on the counter.

Step 5

Place the butter and chocolate in a metal bowl and set over a pot of gently simmering water, stirring gently until they have melted. Set aside (but you will want to use it warm).

Step 6

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together. Add half of this mixture to the melted chocolate if using electric beaters, or transfer the chocolate and half of the icing sugar–cocoa mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at medium-low speed to combine (it will be thick and not terribly smooth). Add the sour cream, vanilla and salt and blend at medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar–cocoa mixture and beat first at low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium to beat until the frosting holds its shape when the beaters are lifted. 

Step 7

Chill the frosting for at least 2 hours before using, but it can be prepared and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days before using.


Step 8

To assemble the cake place one cake layer on a cake platter or cake wheel and spread a thick layer of fudge frosting in an even layer.  Top this with the second cake layer and spread a generous layer of frosting over the top of the cake, coaxing it right over the edges of the cake.  Spread frosting onto the sides of the cake so that it meets the frosting hanging over the top and smooth it out (this helps create a precise and even edge).  Once the frosting is evenly applied, use your palette knife to create swirls and swishes in the frosting for an inviting look.  Chill the cake uncovered until ready to serve.