Making High Ratio Yellow Cake

Sheet cake lovers, this is your cake. It’s as close as you can get to a commercial sheet cake consistency without the high ratio flour and emulsified shortening that the pros use. It’s great for stacking and decent for carving (though if you really want to get serious about cake theatrics you’ll want to do a google search for “durable cake recipe”). But of course the main reason people like a sheet cake is for the decorating potential. Quite a canvas they present, oh yes they do.

This recipe is formulated for a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ cake pan, and I can’t stress enough that if you want to make a sheet cake you need to use a square-cornered sheet cake pan. Not a casserole dish, which creates mounds at the edges of the cake with a depression in the center. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and getting your ingredients together. Grease your pan and line it with parchment paper for easy extraction.

Next sift the flour into a large bowl.

Add HALF the sugar, the baking powder and salt…

…and whisk it all together. Set it aside.

Next combine the room-temperature milk, vanilla and vegetable oil. Set that aside as well.

Now combine the shortening with the rest of the sugar.

Beat that on medium high for 2-3 minutes until it’s very light and fluffy (this step is key to a good emulsion so you may want to scrape at least once as you do the creaming). Now start adding the eggs one by one, as well as the yolks. Scrape several times to make sure you’ve got complete incorporation. If the mixture looks lumpy or curdled, proceed since it’s no big deal. At all.

Now add a third of the flour, stir on medium-low, scrape and stir some more.

Add half the milk mixture and stir that in. Add another third of the flour, stir, scrape and all that. Proceed like this until everything is combined and the batter is smooth, but don’t go too nuts on the beating (gluten development, donchaknow). You just want everything evenly combined.

Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes until the center of the cake springs back when it’s tapped.

Allow the cake to cool ten minutes before you turn it out. Place a rack on the top and flip the whole works over. Put another rack on the cake and flip it back, removing the original rack when you’re done. Let it cool completely before you trim and decorate.

Alternately you can do reader Frank’s trick of just leaving the cake upside-down and enjoy that nice smooth top and the square corners!

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21 Responses to Making High Ratio Yellow Cake

  1. uptight says:

    I’m surprised that nobody pointed this out before:
    Yellowcake is also a form of uranium, commonly encountered after the ore has been processed.

    (Oh, they call me uptight because I was making the wonderful St. Lucias and they ended up all weighting exactly 50 grams [1.763? ounces for you]- I like that digital scale…)

    Keep it up!

    • joepastry says:

      Uptight bakers of the world, unite! I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets made fun of in this regard.

      And you’re right. We need to keep the yellow cake away from the Iranians.

      - Joe

  2. Frankly says:

    I was disappointed you didn’t instruct us to
    whisk it
    whisk it good
    this time. Is Devo more a Chocolate kind of thing?

    • joepastry says:

      It’s not so much that. Yellow cake is more of a jerkin’ back and forth sort of mix.

      - Joe

  3. Christine says:

    Can you use part butter, part shortening for this cake?

  4. Alicia Hinojosa says:

    You have 350 on the high ratio sheet cake tutorial and on the link to the ingredients 375 degrees, which one is it?

    • joepastry says:

      Ah yes, my mistake. I changed the temperature when I made it. It’s 350. I’ll change it. Thanks!

      - Joe

      • Alicia Hinojosa says:

        I just made the sheet cake and I am very please with texture, appearance and flavor. Definatelly a good recipe for sheet cake. My cake turned out a little dry. Itdidn’t bake at 30 mins. so I left it 10 mins. more as instructed. Is there anything I could do different to get a little more moisture to it. Very good cake! Love it plain with coffee!!

        • joepastry says:

          Hey Alicia!

          Hi ratio cakes are going to be a bit that way compared to butter cakes. However you can boost the moist texture by adding some oil to the batter. Take out about 25% of the shortening (by weight) and add back the equal amount of oil by weight. Don’t add it in in the creaming step, but mix it in with the milk. Oh, and if you use olive oil you’ll be adding additional emulsifiers, which is a very good thing!

          - Joe

  5. Leona says:

    Do you have a recipe for high ratio white cake? I would like a dense cake like this for petit fours.

  6. Misty says:

    Hi Joe,
    Could I add peanut butter to this recipe and make a peanut butter layer cake? I’ve tried a few recipes but they all came out on the dry side. Thanks!

    • joepastry says:

      You can certainly try it…but I’d start small with just a half a cup or so and see how it impacts the formula. You may well need to add a little more leavening to push it all up.

      - Joe

  7. Brittany Norfleet says:

    I made this the other day and it was a total hit! I was thinking of using the same recipe for cupcakes. Is there anything you would change for a cupcake recipe?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Brittany! You don’t need to change the formula at all, just turn the temperature up about 25 degrees and shorten the baking time by 10-15 minutes.

      Cheerio, and thanks for the comment!

      - Joe

  8. Becky says:

    Is this a good recipe to use for a 2 tier round cake? I’m making my daughter a birthday cake and don’t really know what I’m doing. Do I need supports too? Thanks for any tips you can give me!

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