Small Yellow Cake (6 Inch)
Recreate your favorite yellow cake mix from scratch with Small Yellow Cake! It makes the perfect 6 inch birthday cake with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting.
Did you grow up eating cake mix? I did.
There are 4 of us – me, my brother, and my parents. Mom would often make each family member a cake for his or her birthday, usually devil’s food but sometimes yellow or even funfetti.
When I learned how to bake, I insisted on making homemade cakes. I even make my own birthday cake now (although I will not object to someone buying me an ice cream cake).
For awhile I made layer cakes on the blog, but I’m now I’m focusing on small batch sizes with 6 inch cake recipes.
Whether you’re looking for dessert for two or for portion control, I got you covered.
After making my small chocolate cake, I started thinking about what flavors to make next.
Soon I started thinking about yellow cake, the kind you see as a cake mix.
Of course I’m all about baking cakes from scratch, so I set out to make this Small 6 Inch Yellow Cake For Two.
What’s funny is yellow isn’t a flavor. You have chocolate cake, vanilla cake, strawberry cake. Then you have yellow cake. What does yellow taste like exactly?
What is yellow cake?
Yellow cake gets its name from using butter and whole eggs (compared to white cake where you use only egg whites). Quite frankly, it’s a small vanilla cake made with whole eggs.
In other words, yellow cake and vanilla cake are the same. It depends on whether you want the richness from the yolks or stick with all whites.
How To Make Yellow Cake For Two
I tested this recipe probably 8 times. The cakes started out too thin. Then some kept doming in the middle while others did the opposite and sunk.
I ended up adding baking soda to neutralize the acidity in the buttermilk while the baking powder helped the cake rise to the desired thickness.
Buying A 6 Inch Round Cake Pan
To make the best yellow cake recipe, you need a 6 inch round cake pan (affiliate link). If you’re having trouble finding one, check out the cake decorating section of your local craft store.
I also turned this recipe into small batch yellow cupcakes if you don’t have a 6 inch pan.
Servings In A 6 Inch Yellow Cake
Serving sizes are subjective, especially if you only want a small bite of cake. Generally 6 inch cakes can be sliced into 4-6 slices, making it about 4-6 servings per 6 inch cake.
However, if you slice the cake small enough, you can push for 8 slices, equaling 8 servings.
Ultimately serving size is up to you depending on how small you cut your 6 inch cake.
What is the best frosting for yellow cake?
For the frosting, I used my Small Batch Chocolate Frosting, which makes enough to frost the top and outside. Don’t forget the sprinkles!
Not a chocolate fan? Check out my Small Batch Buttercream Frosting and Strawberry Buttercream.
You can even make it pretty in pink with strawberry cream cheese frosting.
Equipment You Will Need
More Small 6 Inch Cake Recipes
Looking for more small cake flavors? Check out these recipes:
Small 6 Inch Yellow Cake For Two
Looking to recreate your favorite yellow cake mix from scratch? This Small 6 Inch Yellow Cake For Two with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting is the perfect size if you’re looking for cake portion control.
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Frosting Options (Pick One)
- Chocolate Buttercream (get recipe here)
- Vanilla Buttercream (get recipe here)
- Strawberry Buttercream (get recipe here)
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (get recipe here)
- Cream Cheese Frosting (get recipe here)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease one 6-inch round cake pan then line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla (it will look curdled).
- Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
- Transfer the batter to the pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs (no wet batter). Cool for about 15 minutes, run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen, and invert onto a cooling rack. Cool right-side-up.
- Once cool, decorate with frosting of choice.
If using buttercream, store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
If using cream cheese frosting, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let sit at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes before serving to get rid of the chill.
- Enjoyed this recipe? Check out my full list of Small Cake Recipes, including chocolate, vanilla, and more!
- Don't have a 6 inch pan? Check out my recipe for Small Batch Yellow Cupcakes!
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This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchase.
Thank you – another small cake for me to bake! :-) I am so loving these small 6″ cakes – they are so quick to mix, bake and do not last long in the fridge – another bonus!
So happy to hear you’re enjoying them! I have a few more flavors planned throughout the year.
If I wanted to use cake flour, would I need to change anything else in the recipe?
Instead of writing the recipe to use cake flour, I used all purpose flour plus cornstarch. However, if you do have cake flour handy, you can use 3/4 cup cake flour and omit the cornstarch.
Do you have a recipe for a 6-in chocolate cake?
Yes I do! I linked to it in the post, but here it is again: https://www.chocolatemoosey.com/2018/01/29/small-chocolate-cake-for-two/
This cake was fabulous, so moist and delish. The frosting is to die for!! The cake is just the right size for everyone in house (it’s 3 of us) to enjoy a nice small slice after one great dinner. I like not having cake in the house that I will eat on for a week…adding a thousand calories that I don’t need!! I can’t wait to try the chocolate cake. Thanks so much for the small batch recipes. I have been trying to eat better, but like dessert every now and then and this cake fits the bill.
Thank you for the positive feedback! Glad everyone enjoyed the cake.
Wow, thank you for the I recipe! The cake and frosting are absolutely delicious. I was looking for a recipe for a single layer cake; I’m so glad I found this one. I will definitely be making the cake and frosting again. Thank you!
I meant to add that I needed a recipe that didn’t require a lot of milk as I didn’t have very much. I made the “buttermilk” myself by adding some lemon juice to whole milk. And, for the first time ever, I made a cake that didn’t dome! Finally, I made a cake that looks – and tastes – like it came from a bakery! Woo hoo!
Thank you for the positive feedback! I tested this cake multiple times to ensure there wasn’t a domed top. Great idea with the buttermilk substitute too.
Gave the yellow cake recipe a go today. It turned out amazing! I triple the batch to make three 6″ cakes for a three-layer raspberry filled cake. The texture is perfect. The cake is moist. The flavor is excellent. My wife is a total dessert snob, especially when it comes to cake. This yellow cake recipe got a definite vote of approval from her. Thank you for posting your yellow cake recipe.
Good to know this recipe can easily be tripled! Sounds like a really delicious layer cake. Glad you and your wife enjoyed it!
Great cake, nice vanilla taste and very moist. Mine didn’t turn out dense enough and the sides fell apart. Could it be because I didn’t have buttermilk and that I made my own (whole milk + lemon juice)? It probably wasn’t thick enough, I’ll try this again!
Hmm the buttermilk is used for the acid to neutralize the baking soda, so the substitute of milk + lemon juice shouldn’t affect the cake falling apart. If your sides were falling apart, it either stuck to the cake pan or your batter wasn’t made properly. What size egg did you use? What flour did you use? Did you forget the extra 3 tablespoons? How do you measure your flour (scoop and pack or spoon gently)? How long did you cream your butter and sugar (and did you actually time it or did you guess)? What did the batter look like when you poured it into the pan? Do you use an oven thermometer and what was the temperature reading when you put in the cake?
I used flour with incorporated baking powder + the batter remained very curdled. My 6 inch pan is higher than yours, and I always struggle a bit to unmold these cakes.On the other hand I’ve made your strawberry & chocolate little cakes with success :) I’ll try this again and I’ll keep you posted! Thanks for your “little batch” recipes, we love them.
What do you mean by “flour with incorporated baking powder”? Is that self rising flour? Did you use all-purpose flour or something else? Was the batter curdled after you added the flour? It will curdle when you add the egg, but it should smooth itself out when you mix in the flour and milk. If it was still chunky when you transferred the batter to the cake pan, something went wrong while making it. Wish I could be there with you to observe what happened!
Sorry, I live in France and we don’t always have the same ingredients. It was self rising flour. And yes it was curdled with the flour & milk so something went wrong. I’ll try again!
This is the best white (actually yellow) cake I’ve made. Thank you so much! I know I will continue to make it. While I can double it to make a larger cake, I’m wondering if you have a more full size recipe for the cake.
Glad you enjoyed the cake, David! I only have the yellow cake recipe as written.
Hello! I plan on making this into a 3-layer 6-inch cake, however I am wondering if I could replace the buttermilk with sour cream as I’ve seen some yellow cake recipes call for sour cream?
The problem with substituting sour cream for buttermilk is the batter will be much thicker because you’re losing the liquid element that helps thin out the batter. Although it is possible, you’ll have to adjust for the other ingredients.
Okay, thank you!
If you’re looking to not buy buttermilk, you can use 1/3 cup whole milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white distilled vinegar. The acid is needed for the baking soda.
I wanted a cake with unsalted butter and this cake has unsalted butter in it.
Glad it fit your needs!
Every year for more than 30 years, I’ve made a boxed cake for my wife for her birthday. This year was a special birthday (50th) so I decided to attempt to bake from scratch. I like to think I’m a pretty good cook, but a lousy baker so I was searching for a fairly easy recipe and for small cakes (we always have leftovers). I found this one and couldn’t be happier, wish I could post a pic here. It didn’t come together the way I had hoped but finished so wonderfully. I think my butter was still too cold so it didn’t blend with the sugar as I expected It too – oh, I used sugar in the raw too, not traditional white granulated. Also, I think my oven may be dying because it wound up taking 35 min. In the end though, the cake was super moist, very flavorful and more importantly, my wife LOVED it. Thank you for doing the work and sharing this with all of us. I’m going to have to try some of the others you’ve shared.
I’m glad the cake still turned out delicious for your wife! How thoughtful of you to bake her a cake. For future reference, I recommend buying an oven thermometer to see how accurate the temperature is. My gas oven bakes 25F degrees hotter than the knob says, so I have to adjust the knob so I don’t overbake it. For you, if you oven is X degrees below what it says, you’ll want to adjust accordingly.
Can you show the equivalents needed for an InstantPot?
I’ve never baked a cake in an Instant Pot, so unfortunately I don’t have that information. If you figure it out, please report back!
Hi Carla, So if I wanted to use your recipe to make a white cake, are you saying that all I need to do is to substitute the whole egg for just egg whites? Would you know if by eliminating the yolk the remaining white would suffice or should I use 2 egg whites to make up for the liquid the yolk would have supplied? Thanks. I am very excited about your recipes for two as there is only my husband and me to cook for. Dawn
Great question! For a white cake, use 2 egg whites in place of the whole egg.
I loved this cake when I made it over Christmas! Now I am looking to make it again but need a full sized batch. Would you have those measurements?
Glad you enjoyed the recipe for Christmas! I only tested it in a 6 inch cake pan, so I don’t have measurements for larger pans.
I would like to use two 6 inch cake pans, could I just double this recipe? Would I also have to double the chocolate icing recipe too? Thank you.
Yes, since this recipe makes one 6 inch cake, you can double both the cake and frosting for two 6 inch cakes.
Delicious cake, delicious frosting – I used the 3/4 c of cake flour as suggested instead of AP flour + cornstarch. The cake took about 30 min in my oven. I topped the icing with a little flakes Maldon salt. Yummmmm…Thanks for the great recipe!
Glad it turned out and love the touch of salt!
Hi, thanks for the recepie. I’d like to attempt this but just a few things to clarify:
1. On beating the butter and sugar for 2 mins, is that with a handmixer or a whisk?
2.Is it ok to ubstitute any type of yogurt with buttermilk? If regular yogurt has sugar, how much sugar do I need to reduce the recepie to?
3.Do you bake with or without the oven fan?
1 – Beat the butter with a mixer, either hand or stand.
2 – This recipe has not been tested with yogurt. Yogurt is thicker than buttermilk, so the cake batter will be thicker.
3 – This was baked in a convention oven, so without; there are no oven fans in convention ovens.
Could I use plain full fat yogurt for the buttermilk?
This recipe has not been tested with yogurt. Yogurt is thicker than buttermilk, so the cake batter will be thicker.
Do you think it would still taste good?
Best guess without testing it is yes.
I love that nice white cake stand. Where can I get one?? I only do small baking and really need one the right size. Does it have a dome?
It’s a Food Network cake stand I bought via Kohls. This was years ago and can’t find it on Kohl’s website. No dome.
Hi Carla, I made this cake yesterday and doubled it for 2 layers. It was delicious and most definitely a hit with my family. There’s not much left, but we did save a couple of pieces for today since it’s our 35th wedding anniversary. I’m sure I’ll be making more of your treats in the days ahead since I love to bake.
God bless and keep you,
Happy Wedding Anniversary! Glad you enjoyed the recipe.
Can you use 1 % milk instead of buttermilk?
Yes. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice directly to the milk and let it sit for a few minutes until it looks curdled. This acid is needed to react with the baking soda in the recipe.
Hi, I don’t have cornstarch, but I have cornmeal. Will that work? Thanks.
No. Cornstarch is corn flour while cornmeal is ground corn.
This cake turned out so delicious and was the perfect size! I’ve been searching for a small / mini single layer cake recipe and am so glad I came across this yellow cake recipe. Thank you for sharing! I will definitely save this recipe to make again and again. Looking forward to trying your other 6” cakes!
Wonderful! Happy you enjoyed the cake.
Hi Carla, this is one really moist n yummy cake. I wanted to make a marbled cake using this recipe and adding cocoa powder. If I add 2 tbsp cocoa powder, do I need to reduce the flour by 2 tbsp?
I’m a beginner at this, pls pardon the multiple questions….also would I need additional sugar for the cocoa addition?
I haven’t tried making a marble cake myself. I’d probably leave the flour amount alone because you’d be dividing the batter in half, so you would need the proper amount of flour for the yellow batter. That’s just a guess since I never tested it, but it sounds like a good start.
I loved this recipe and can’t wait to try out all of your cakes. I split the batter between two 5″ pans and it made the most adorable layer cake ever! Pair it with a pint of ice cream, and it’s a great way for my family of 4 to celebrate an occasion without gorging on a giant cake for a whole week. I’d love to see a lemon cake recipe!
Glad you enjoyed the recipe! Lemon is on my list to make for sure.
I doubled the recipe and baked it in 6 inch Springfield pan. It tastes,great but the center of the caked fell. Any suggestions?
Are you saying you baked it in 1 pan or 2 pans? Besides doubling, did you change or leave out any of the ingredients? Another reason could be overfilling the pan if you doubled the recipe (like if you didn’t evenly fill 2 pans and 1 was more full than the other).
I followed the recipe, just doubling everything. I put the batter in one pan 6 inch pan about 4 inch tall.. When adding the dry ingredients should you beat after each addition?
Ok one 6×4 pan is not the same as two 6×2 pans. There are two reasons why your cake probably sunk:
1 – The pan was too full. How far to the top did it fill? If it’s too full, the batter will rise too much (possibly even over the rim) then as it cools, it sinks.
2 – The cake is too thick, so it’s likely the middle wasn’t done baking when the top was done. When it’s not done, the support isn’t there, so the middle collapses. And if you do bake it until the middle is done, the top will be overbaked.
For your question, yes you want to gently beat the batter after each addition. I use a stand mixer so I let it beat continuously as I alternate the dry and wet, but if you’re using a hand mixer then you’ll want to turn it on to gently incorporate (or even stir it all in by hand).
I wanted to make my niece a tiny cake for her 30th birthday today so I googled small cakes and am so delighted to have found your website. My sister is a nurse and quarantined with Covid exposure so I was happy to step up to provide the cake-SO yummy, and easy to make and I had everything on hand to make the cake, except the sprinkles! Frosting is the stuff dreams are made of…
Wonderful! Glad your niece enjoyed her cake.
Hey Carla could you do some cake recipe with two layers… I will be trying some of these cake recipe but will be doing two layers.
You can double the recipe to make two layers.
Very good recipe. Delicious!
I really wanna try making this as my cake for a Boston cream pie but I only have milk. I don’t have lemon juice or vinegar so will just milk be fine?
You need the acid to react with the baking soda, so it won’t have the same result without it. Also did you see I have a mini Boston cream pie cake recipe? https://www.chocolatemoosey.com/2020/04/21/mini-boston-cream-pie-for-two/
Oh fiddlesticks! Any other suggestions on how to substitute buttermilk in your recipe? Yes I did but I’m working with a loaf pan as I don’t have access to that round cake pans.
You can probably try yogurt or sour cream, but since it’s thicker than buttermilk you’ll have to add some milk to it. Quick google search says “To replace 1 cup (237 ml) of buttermilk in a recipe, combine 3/4 cup (172 grams) of sour cream with 1/4 cup (59 ml) of water or milk and whisk the mixture until smooth.” Since this recipe uses 1/3 cup, my guess is 2 tablespoons yogurt/sour cream and 1 tablespoon milk. If you try this method, let me know how it turns out!
For a stand mixer, do I use the paddle attachment or the wire whisk? Thank you.
Oh gosh, mine tasted a little eggy. Are medium eggs the standard? The recipe didn’t specify. We always buy large.
I mean, we ate it anyway…because CAKE lol
I used a standard large store-bought egg. Double check to make sure your eggs aren’t super old. The older eggs are, the more sulfur they release. Sometimes if the egg gets overcooked (like if you overbaked the cake), then you can taste it more. Also make sure the cake is fully cooled. A warm cake will taste eggier than a properly cooled one. And finally someone via Google mentioned how vanilla masks the taste of egg, so make sure you’re using the correct amount. I have no idea if this claim is valid. I do know vanilla brings out other flavors in the cake, so maybe that’s what they meant.
I bet we didnt let it cool enough then because it definitely could not have been the ingredients and the cake was super soft. I was actually surprised how light the texture was being such a small pan.
I will give it another go next week
If you ate it while still warm, it’s possible!
Yep! That was the problem. Made it again but this time we showed more restraint lol
I had no idea that temp could affect the taste.
Cant wait to try the others. Thank you!
Oh good! It’s funny like that, isn’t it? Some desserts taste better warm while others taste better the next day.
hello, thank you. I made this recipe for my parents 15th anniversary and everyone loved it
Oh wonderful! Happy Anniversary to them!
Oh.my.goodness! This cake is amazing. I used your chocolate butter cream frosting, and it hit it out of the ballpark! Will definitely make this again and try some of your other yummy sounding recipes as well.
Oh wonderful! Happy to hear you enjoyed both the cake and the frosting.