Yellow cake with chocolate frosting and the words "happy birthday Ben" written on top

Birthdays make me bubbly. I’m told I’ll enjoy them less as the candles multiply, but I refuse to believe it, even if my cake triggers the fire alarm. What is not to fancy about a day when 1) The people you love celebrate purely because you were born and 2) Cake is practically mandatory?
This week, I celebrated a very special birthday: Ben’s! Of everyone I know, Ben makes the least fuss over his own birthday, so naturally I kicked up the fanfare to compensate. We spent the weekend in the adorable town of Lake Geneva in southern Wisconsin. Highlights included visiting nearby vineyards (yes, Wisconsin has vineyards), walking along the lakeshore, and watching Notre Dame football beat Michigan State at the local bar.
Erin and Ben Clarke at Lake Geneva
Sunset on Lake Geneva.
While an Irish victory was the one thing Ben truly wanted for his birthday, I never miss an opportunity for dessert, especially when it’s birthday cake! Ben’s favorite is the classic YELLOW CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING, so I set out to prepare the most moist, buttery, ultimate-birthday-bliss rendition possible. Oh, and I lightened it up.
Now, I know what you are thinking:
  1. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting? That is so boring.
  2. You lightened up a birthday cake? No one wants a healthy cake on his birthday!
Excellent points. To those who think yellow cake with chocolate frosting is boring, you should reconsider. Yellow cake + chocolate frosting only seems boring because it is the gold standard of all birthday cake. Yes, Ben could have chosen a more “interesting” flavor, but when you want the traditional birthday experience, yellow cake + chocolate frosting is the one. Plus, what is so uninteresting about buttery, moist layers smeared with fluffy fudge?
Point 2: To those who think it is inhumane to create a healthy-tasting birthday cake, I agree with you. Birthday treats should be just that—a treat. My YELLOW CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING meets the ultimate light dessert criterion: it doesn’t taste light.
Swapping reduced-fat sour cream for some of the butter called for in the original recipe, then supplementing the flavor with butter extract resulted in a cake that was just as rich and yummy as the classic, for a fraction of the calories. It tasted phenomenal with Light Fluffy Frosting, but feel free to sub your favorite chocolate frosting or my Lighter Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.
In addition to the recipe, check out my How to Create the Most Moist Cake You’ve Ever Baked and Quick Guide to Frosting Cakes for helpful hints to make fabulous cakes all year long.
It’s the perfect finale for any birthday meal: ultimate YELLOW CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING. Now, what’s not to love about birthdays?
A fluffy yellow cake with chocolate frosting for Ben's birthday

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting : Ultimate Birthday Classic

Low calorie recipe for yellow cake with chocolate frost. With fluffy whipped frosted. Fat free cool whip frosting

Servings: 2 8 or 9 inch rounds or one 9x13 in.


For the Yellow Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup non-fat buttermilk*

For the Light Fluffy Frosting:

  • 1 packet instant whipped topping Dream Whip
  • 1 package sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix (4 serving size—the “small” box)
  • 1 1/2 cups non-fat milk


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Combine butter and sour cream in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended. Add granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and butter extract. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Continue to mix batter for 2 minutes or until well blended.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat after each addition. (The sifting and alternating may seem fussy, but it will guarantee the lightest possible cake).
  • Prepare baking pans: coat bottom of two round 9-in. baking pans with cooking spray; line bottoms with wax or parchment paper (trace around the bottom of your pan to cut out the correct paper size/shape). Coat wax paper with cooking spray. Place 1 T. flour in pan. Tap and rotate the pan to coat all interior surfaces, then tap out any extra flour into the sink or trash.
  • Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Carefully peel off wax paper and follow How to Create the Most Moist Cake You’ve Ever Bakedor set aside to cool completely.
  • Frost with Light Fluffy Frosting (follow link for directions) or your chocolate frosting of choice, following my Quick Guide to Frosting Cakes as needed.


*Ingredient tip: If you don't have or don't want to purchase buttermilk, combine regular non-fat milk with 1 T. of white vinegar or lemon juice. Let stand for 5 minutes and use in recipe as directed.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. I’ve actually never been a huge fan of yellow cake with chocolate frosting, but I’m going to give this one a go! :) Have a great day, Honey!

    1. Thanks for the comment and for the vote of confidence! I promise this recipe has a rich flavor that shines above any other yellow cake I’ve tried. AND, it beats the pants off of anything out of a box. Let me know how it goes!

  2. My daughter and I made this for my Birthday and it was sooo good! She said it was the best cake ever! We didn’t follow the directions to a T i.e. totalyl room temperature/cooled ingredients or alternating the mixing of ingredients but were pretty close. I was bummed to not make the frosting but I wasn’t sure where to get dream whip plus we were tight on time so definitely next time. This is my favorite type of cake and will definitely be making again!

    1. Hi Christy, I’m so happy to hear that everyone enjoyed the cake! I really appreciate your taking the time to leave this awesome review. :)