Yellow Cake with Chocolate-Hazelnut Filling & Chocolate Frosting

Happy Birthday to my sister, Lauren!!

After I started taking my cake decorating classes, my sister asked if I would make (and decorate, of course) a cake for her birthday. Of course I said yes! Then she saw the drunk clown cake and demanded that a drunk clown grace the top of her cake. Haha, okay, of course that can be done! Err, so I thought. I was pretty pressed for time yesterday and I didn’t want to chance a clown catastrophe, so instead I gave her a cake of crooked writing and a martini glass. That’s drunk, right? ;-)

Oh, and I added polka dots to the sides:

When I asked what flavors she wanted she said a yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and some type of hazelnut-flavored filling. The cake is a classic yellow cake, made using the Fluffy Yellow Cake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (recipes for the cake, filling, and frosting follow below). I decided to torte the layers for a more “sophisticated” cake, and between them is a very thin layer of chocolate frosting topped with a hazelnut ganache.


I was really happy with this cake except that I would have poured the ganache into the cake and let it set there instead of at room temperature, as it got a little too hard and was nearly impossible to work with between the cake layers. Everyone thought that the flavors of the cake were great, and said it was really rich, so if you want to make something a little less rich, I would suggest not torting the layers and instead going with a traditional 2-layer cake.

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Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake


For the Cake:

2 1/2 cups cake flour , plus extra for dusting pans

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon table salt

1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly

1 cup buttermilk , room temperature

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks , room temperature

3 large egg whites , room temperature

For the Hazelnut Ganache:

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons hazelnut liquor

For the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting:

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine

2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

2. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.

3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

5. Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

To make the Hazelnut Ganache: Microwave chocolate until almost completely melted; remove from the microwave and let stand 1 minute. Whisk until smooth and completely melted. Whisk in the heavy cream, and then the liquor. Cool (but do not let set) before using as a filling.

To make the Chocolate Frosting: Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

(I doubled the recipe for this cake)

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(Recipe for the cake was adapted from Cook's Illustrated, March 2008 issue; recipe for the Chocolate Frosting was adapted from Hershey's )

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