All-Occasion Yellow Butter Cake

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Today is one of those precious sunny Vancouver November days that we west-coasters cherish every winter. Before I put on my boots to head outdoors, get some errands done and enjoy the brilliant day, I have something special to share with you…My favourite cake recipe! It’s been over a year since I posted on Blue Owl, but the baking has been going strong despite the respite. I can’t think of a better recipe to share at this time than my go-to cake recipe.  I am so proud to reflect on the past year and think fondly of all the birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings that I have had the honour to be a part of creatively. This recipe has been a huge part of that!

0780 Lydia _ Michael

There have been some huge changes in my life since the last post. Some highlights include turning 30 (omg), moving to East Van (love it) and becoming an auntie to one more perfect little boy. It’s incredible to think about how much can change and develop in just one year. What’s changed for you?


In all honesty though, the past year or so hasn’t just been a highlight reel. It’s been tough as well.  I’ve gone through loss, a (few) painful breakups, and some mega career shifts. One thing I know for sure is that right now I feel stronger in my heart and skin and know myself better than I  have ever before. I am proud to attribute part of this personal clarity to the adversity I’ve gone through. Eek I guess that might be what some people call growing up??


To all those other people who feel comfortable saying YES to the many layers of complexity that they call themselves, here is a recipe that pairs with many occasions. It  is one that is steadfast and true, and that you can count on. It’s one that you can pull out with confidence and pride. It is rich, flavourful, and has a consistency perfect for layering up! The simple vanilla butter flavour pairs so well with many frosting varities that you can go wild and customize it for whomever or whatever occasion you please. Some of my favourite buttercream flavours to pair with this yellow butter cake have included lemon, rose, peppermint, maple, vanilla. What would you pick?


 Three Layer 8-inch Yellow Butter Cake


3 1/4 cups (425g) cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks (save egg whites for frosting)
1 1/2 cups whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper (cut out circles in parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pans)
  2. Sift together (or whisk) the flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and mix on medium high until the butter is light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the vanilla and egg yolks one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of the dry ingredients are combined.
  6. Evenly divide batter among the three prepared pans. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Once cool, frost the cakes. If you choose to pre-make the cakes for a few days later, saran wrap the cakes in 2 layers and flash freeze. If you plan to use the cakes the next day, saran as above and refrigerate the cakes but do not stack the cakes.

Large Swiss Buttercream Frosting

(with Flavour Varieties)

Tools required: Double Boiler (or saucepan/mixing bowl combo), candy thermometer.


1 cup egg whites (use egg whites from cake recipe above)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
1 tbsp vanilla extract (or any other extract of your preference! 
Suggestions: lemon, rose, maple, peppermint)


  1. Bring a double boiler to simmer over a medium low heat on a stove top. If you don’t own a double boiler, bring two inches of water to a simmer in a sauce pan, and place a mixing bowl on top. Place egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a double boiler/the mixing bowl. Before water simmers, quickly whisk these ingredients together in the bowl so that they are combined. Place candy thermometer into mixture so that the tip is submered, and bring water to a simmer. Make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160F on the thermometer. Once hot, carefully lift the bowl out of the double boiler, and pour into your stand-up mixer bowl (spatula out).
  3. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg mixture on high speed for 8-10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.
  4. IMPORTANT: Make sure that your butter is room temperature. If it isn’t zap it in the microwave for 10 seconds or so, making sure that it is *softened* and not melted before you add it to the meringue.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the softened butter a few tablespoons at a time, then add your flavour extract.
  6. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer speed to medium and beat until the buttercream is silky and smooth.
  7. It’s best to use it right away! If you need to wait, make sure that the buttercream is used when it is no cooler than 20C. If the buttercream is too solid (AKA the BUTTER is too solid) the mixture will turn kind of chunky and may separate into liquids and solids. DON’T despair!! This is just a temperature thing. It’s because the butter is too cold to blend with the egg white mixture. All you need to do is zap your buttercream for about 10 or so seconds in the microwave. Beat it again and it should be perfect!! Don’t throw out your buttercream.


Have a wonderful day, and enjoy this cake! It’s the best!

Blue Owl

PS: Updates on the pirate in Vancouver’s Japanese gardens

PPS: Cup of Jo’s beautiful gift guide for mothers

PPPS: The glorious truth about the Great Coffee Nap!

About Blue Owl Treats

Welcome! I am Heather, a musician, baker, and teacher living in beautiful Vancouver, BC! I use this blog to share my love for baking and the odd DIY or crafting project. Enjoy!
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