This is my basic yellow cake recipe. I use it for different types of cake as well, including strawberry, lemon, spice, tres leches, etc. I’ll include those variations below.

Buttermilk yellow cake


  • Buttermilk yellow cake
  • 1 cup butter

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 4 eggs, separated

  • 3 cups flour (AP flour but can substitute equal weight of pastry flour)

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1.5 tsp vanilla


    Cream butter and sugar until light. Add egg yolks, one at a time until well incorporated. Sift dry ingredients. Add alternately with buttermilk/vanilla, starting and ending with dry. Mix only until smooth. Don’t over mix. Whip up the whites separately to firm peaks and fold into the batter. Bake in a 9×13 pan at 350′ for approximately 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

  1. Variations:
  2. I like to add buttermilk powder to the dry ingredients when substituting other liquids so I don’t lose the benefits of the buttermilk.
  3. For tres leches cake:
  4. Make cake as above. mix together one can evaporated milk, one can sweetened-condensed milk and 1 cup whole milk or goat milk and pour slowly over cake to soak in. *This recipe will only take 1/2 the milk. Either reserve the other half of the milk or make a double recipe
  5. Strawberry cake:
  6. In place of the buttermilk (1 cup), use 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) blended strawberries.
  7. banana cake:
  8. In place of the buttermilk (1 cup), use 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) blended bananas.
  9. Lemon cake:
  10. In place of the vanilla (1.5 tsp), use 2 tsp lemon extract.
  11. Spice cake:
  12. In place of buttermilk, use 1 1/2 cups apple sauce. In place of half the sugar, use 1/2 brown sugar. To dry ingredients, add 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves and 1/4 tsp ginger.


paintergrrl73 Says... 1 Nov 2009 , 1:01pm

Have you tried this recipe for cupcakes? Sounds dee-lish and I always think buttermilk makes moister cakes. Any suggestions?

deMuralist Says... 13 Nov 2009 , 8:12pm

My batter came out very thick, so I actually added 1 1/2 C of raspberries, pureed and pushed through a sieve. I also added a little red food coloring because the color looked a little weird then.

Used cream cheese buttercream frosting.

Tasted fantastic!

Beginner1848 Says... 18 Nov 2009 , 8:32am

Thanks for all the variations!

Is there a reason you specified a 9 x 13 pan? Wouldn't this recipe work in 9-inch round pans?

LaSombra Says... 27 Jul 2010 , 6:27pm

This will work for any size cake pans, but I said 9x13 so you know how long that size would take and how much one recipe makes and then adjust from there according to which pans you use.

This recipe does come out thicker than what you might be used to with mixes or even some other scratch recipes, but it will rise well in the oven.

I always recommend using the freshest eggs possible. The fresher the eggs, the better they'll whip up.

I've made cupcakes before with this and yes, they turn out well :)

azeboi2005 Says... 31 Aug 2010 , 11:14am

When you are making the other variations you said you put powdered buttermilk into the dry much do you add?

ashleyj Says... 11 Oct 2010 , 11:13am

I was wondering the same thing about your recipe when substituting liquids, how much powdered buttermilk do you add? What exactly are the benefits of using buttermilk vs regular milk? Is it the added moistness? Thank You!

momofmia Says... 21 Oct 2010 , 10:21pm

Will this cake hold up to a covering of fondant? If I was to make a variation and make it a marble cake, would I add the cocoa to a 1/3 of the batter after the eggs or before? Thanks

LaSombra Says... 22 Oct 2010 , 11:40am

ok, for the powdered buttermilk, it depends on the brand. It should say on the label how much you need for equivalence. Yes, this cake holds up very well to fondant. It's a really durable cake, actually. I'd say if you were adding cocoa to part of it, I'd do it before adding the whites because you'd deflate the whites if you mixed any more after adding them...

LaSombra Says... 22 Oct 2010 , 11:45am

buttermilk is part of the leavening in this cake. It acts with the baking soda and water just like those volcano experiments you may have done in science class (soda/vinegar). If you use regular milk, you won't have the alkaline to counter the acid. If you want to use regular milk, though, you can add a Tbs of vinegar to the wet ingredients...

LindaF144a Says... 8 Apr 2011 , 6:48pm

what is the benefit of cream of tartar? And do you add this to all the variations of recipes here?

LaSombra Says... 13 Apr 2011 , 2:16pm

the cream of tartar is acidic, like the buttermilk and reacts to the baking soda to make the cake rise. Yes, it should be included in all the variations. :)

beginnerCakeDecoretor Says... 6 Oct 2011 , 3:52pm

I want to ask, can I remove the cream of tartar? if no, how could I substiute it? second, do you have a recipie for chocolete buttermilk cake? if yes, the link please!! thanks :)

arrira Says... 18 Nov 2011 , 11:20am

CAn you tell me if doubling the recipe yield a 12x18 sheet cake and a 6/8 inch round cake. TIA

LaSombra Says... 28 Nov 2011 , 12:12pm

well, here's my chocolate cake recipe. It has buttermilk in it, but is a heavier cake: I don't think you can take out the cream of tartar, but if you did want to experiment with that, you could replace with something else acidic like vinegar or lemon juice...

@arrira, you could probably get that much cake out of doubling this recipe. It's a pretty large recipe.

steplite Says... 3 Dec 2011 , 4:55am

Is the cream of tarter added to the egg whites or in with the dry ingredients?

LaSombra Says... 11 Dec 2011 , 1:44pm

just with the dry. I'm sure you could put it with the egg whites if you wanted, though, to help with whipping... It's for levening in this recipe, though.

andertoncakes Says... 28 Feb 2012 , 7:02am

What kind of butter? Salted or unsalted?

didiz_99 Says... 15 Mar 2012 , 3:26am

thanks LaSombra, i tried this recipe and it was simply delicious, thanks again for sharing

cologirl5 Says... 25 Apr 2012 , 2:53pm

Would this cake work for carving?

LaSombra Says... 5 Jul 2012 , 10:36pm

andertoncakes: I always use salted butter.

didiz_99: Thank you!

cologirl5: It's a very sturdy cake. It should work for carving.

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