Recipes for Yellow Butter Cake and Buttercream Icing from the Culinary Institute of America


Frosting cupcakes to look like flowers—such as CIA Dianne Chef Rossomando’s sunflowers, zinnias, and chrysanthemums—is easy when you use a pastry bag and a special “leaf” piping tip that you can find at most kitchen and craft stores. To create a two-tone effect that mimics the looks of flowers in your garden, alternate two complementary colored frostings side by side in a piping bag.

For a video demonstrating the recipes for Yellow Butter Cake and Buttercream Icing, visit this post: Frosting Cupcakes to Look Like Flowers: A Mother’s Day Tip from the Culinary Institute of America.

Yellow Butter Cake

Yield: 1 dozen

Calories per serving: 210

Fat per serving: 9 g

Yellow Butter Cake

Recipes adapted from Baking at Home by the CIA.


  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole or low-fat milk (divided use)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper cupcake inserts inside cupcake pan.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and 1/2 cup of the milk. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, blend the eggs, egg whites, the remaining 1/2 cup milk, and the vanilla extract. Add to the batter in three additions, mixing for 2 minutes on medium speed after each addition. Scrape down the bowl between additions.
  4. Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake pan and bake until a skewer inserted near the center of one of the cakes comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, allow the cakes to cool, and remove from pan.

Buttercream Icing

Recipes adapted from the Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus extra as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk, plus extra as needed


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until it is very light in texture, 2 minutes. Add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and mix on a low speed until the sugar and butter are blended, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Increase the speed to medium and, with the mixer running, add the cream in a thin stream. Increase the speed to high and whip the buttercream until very smooth, light, and a good spreading consistency. Adjust the consistency if necessary by adding a bit more confectioners' sugar or cream. Use to fill, ice, and decorate a cake.


Once blended, buttercreams can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To use after refrigeration, let the buttercream soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until it is a smooth, light spreading consistency, 3 to 4 minutes.


About Author

The Culinary Institute of America is the World's Premier Culinary College. The CIA's main campus in Hyde Park, NY is home to four restaurants. The college offers associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts and bachelor's degrees in culinary arts management, baking and pastry arts management, and culinary science. Programs for food enthusiasts ranging from one to five days are offered throughout the year.


  1. The frosting ingredients did not mention how much vanilla to put so I guessed.

    I made this as a two-tier cake. I had to make some more frosting for it. The frosting was great! The cake I haven’t tried yet it’s still cooling, but it looks more like white cake then yellow.

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