Harlow's First Birthday Downy Yellow Butter Cake with Lemon Buttercream frosting by Brooke Basinger and Grace Basinger #crumbcoat #barecake #Lemon #buttercream
Gather Around,  Recipe,  Recipes,  Sweet

Grandma Grace’s Downy Yellow Butter Cake

This is IT: Grandma Grace’s Downy Yellow Butter Cake. Make it, file this under “special recipes” and keep it forever. That’s what I’m doing. Maybe this will be a new birthday tradition – me making Harlow my Grandmother Grace’s cake. Yeah, I think that sounds nice. As I sit down to write this post, I realize that I don’t have any photographs of my Grandma, which makes me feel like I’m missing something inside. And a bit sad as some of my earliest life memories were of making food in her kitchen. Her kitchen in Indian Brook – with it’s classical music playing softly in the background from this tiny boombox, sitting atop a chair, tucked away in the bay window area of her eating nook. Whenever I hear classical music, which I often listen to, I am reminded of those early memories.

As kids, my sister, cousins and I would bike over to our grandparents house to play. Playing over at Grandma’s house meant something different everyday. Playing the piano, painting, tracing pictures, building things down in the basement, playing in the “green” or “yellow” bedrooms upstairs, making pillows. Plus, their backyard was AMAZING. A garden with paths to ride our bikes, a creek where we would “fish” with sticks, trees to climb, a shed to pretend house with.

But my favorite thing to do was always to nestle up in the kitchen with Grandma and cook. On Saturday’s we would have what we called “Basinger Cook Offs”. Which meant that the four of us (Paige, Tiffany, Billy, and myself) would pick out recipes we would want Grandma to help us make. These requests, albeit sometimes outlandish, usually consisted of breakfast foods and desserts. After gathering the ingredients, cooking, and making a mess, we would all sit, share, and eat. These are some of my fondest memories. My wish is for my own children to experience joy like this.

Grandma and Grandpa Basinger’s backyard shed/house/castle/store via Carol Basinger

My Grandmother was a fantastic cook. Grace wrote all of her recipes down on these yellow sheets of legal pad paper. No rhyme or reason to how they were put together – “to do” lists or random notes sprinkled in between. I am lucky enough to have one of these yellow pads. It isn’t completely full and leaves me to wonder what she would have come up with. I cherish these recipes. Andrew was thoughtful and loving enough to make these memories into a pieces of art for my birthday this year. He had taken four of her recipes and framed them. Never have I loved a gift more. I cried with this simple act of love because it brought up so many memories and what if’s and my desire to be back in that kitchen again. These photos remind how much I am loved whenever I look at them.

It’s not my memories that make this cake so special. Rather, it’s Grace Basinger, who truly did make everything around her more magical.

Downy Yellow Butter Cake with Lemon Buttercream frosting by Brooke Basinger and Grace Basinger #crumbcoat #barecake #Lemon #buttercream

Grandma Grace's Downy Yellow Butter Cake

A tribute to my Grandmother Grace, on my daughter's birthday, for there's no denying her love for cooking and her family. 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Resting time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 10
Author Brooke


  • 6 Large Egg Yolks
  • 1 Cup Milk Leveled
  • 2 1/4 tsp. Vanilla
  • 3 Cups Cake Flour Sifted
  • 1.5 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 12 Tbsp Unsalted butter room temp - must be softened


  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cook time: 25 - 35 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the softened butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add wet ingredients to dry. Increase to medium speed (high for a hand mixer), and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake structure. Scrape down the sides. 

  4.  Scrape the batter into pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be half full. 

  5. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes. Insert tester toothpick in middle - it should come out clean when done.

  6. Serve with icing or by itself with fresh fruit.

Recipe Notes

Yields two 9" cakes.

Enjoy + be sure to create special memories. You can see my finished product here.




  • Kelli

    I’ve known your aunt Annie and Aunt Carol for a long time and I love to hear the stories of your grandmother Grace. Your blog filled in so many little holes on what I can only imagine was a beautiful woman. I joked with Annie last week that you were killing me by not posting the recipe of your beautiful cake. Thank you for honoring her.. what a beautiful tribute to her..

    • Brooke

      Thanks, Kelli! I hear so many fun stories of YOU and your friendship with my Aunts. I always hope for a close group of friends like you all have. it’s so much fun to see your group travel pics! I hope you find time to make the cake, for a special occasion or just for fun. Thank you for reading. xx

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