Recipe: One-Bowl Vanilla Cake with Yogurt Buttercream

Recipe: One-Bowl Vanilla Cake with Yogurt Buttercream

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Meghan Splawn
May 26, 2017
(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

This cake might look the most simple take on our one-bowl vanilla cake, but it has a delicious, ingenious tip that sets it apart from any other cake: The subtly sweet frosting is brightened with Greek yogurt. That's right, part of the butter in the classic American-style buttercream is replaced with Greek yogurt for a naked cake that is more flavorful than a fully frosted cake any day.

One-Bowl Naked Cake: Watch the Video

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

What Is a Naked Cake?

A naked cake is one way to add simple style to a layered cake. Credited to pastry phenomenon Christina Tosi, naked cakes are also a great way to minimally decorate everyday cakes. The secret (if there is one) is to make sure the cakes are properly filled, the top is coated with fluffy frosting, and the sides bare or just lightly frosted to create a thin, veil-like cover.

Read more: What's a Naked Cake (And Why Is It Naked?)

Why Should You Add Yogurt to Buttercream?

I was actually introduced to the idea of yogurt buttercream by a package of frosting mix in a baking kit. The resulting frosting was so wonderfully tangy, flavorful, and satisfying that I started adapting my favorite buttercream recipe to use full-fat Greek yogurt.

The Greek yogurt adds more moisture to the cake, which is especially important for minimally frosted naked cakes that can dry out without the protection of full frosting. You can also swap the plain Greek yogurt for your favorite flavor of yogurt for extra oomph without extra effort.

One-Bowl Vanilla Cake with Yogurt Buttercream

Serves 12 to 16

For the cake:
Cooking spray
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil, or melted and cooled unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the yogurt buttercream:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons full-fat Greek yogurt
3 cups powdered sugar

Make the cake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Line 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment rounds and coat with cooking spray; set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil or butter, milk, and vanilla and beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide the batter between the 2 pans. Bake until lightly browned and the top of the cake springs back when tapped gingerly, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on the rack before frosting.

Make the buttercream: Beat the butter and yogurt in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

Assemble and frost the cake: Level the top of each cake by using a long, thin knife to slice off any humps or unevenness. Place one cake layer on a serving dish or cake stand and fill with 3/4 cup of the frosting. Spread the frosting in an even layer. Invert the other cake layer over the first and try to align the cakes as much as possible. Dollop the remaining frosting on top of the cake. Leave as much frosting on top of the cake as possible, spreading into an even layer and then adding a thin layer over the sides.

Top with fresh flowers, if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The cake layers can be wrapped and stored up to three days in advance, or tightly wrapped and frozen for up to a month.
  • Storage: Store leftover cake in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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