saffron yellow cake with chocolate swiss meringue frosting

  • Author: mimi
  • Prep Time: 18 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 18 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 2" slices
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


This saffron yellow cake with chocolate swiss meringue frosting is a fancy, overachiever version of a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Make this saffron yellow cake when you want to celebrate something or impress someone!


Saffron Yellow Cake

Adapted from Hummingbird High

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoons saffron

  • 4 large eggs

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

  • 3 cups cake flour

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Chocolate swiss meringue frosting

Adapted from Serious Eats

  • 6 eggs’ egg whites

  • 11 ounces (about 1 2/3 cups) light brown sugar 

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 16 ounces unsalted butter (4 sticks) softened to room temp

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

  • 14 ounces (a little less than 2 cups) good-quality powdered cocoa 


  1. Prepare the saffron butter for the cake the night before you’re baking/decorating. In a small saucepan, melt butter and 1 tsp of saffron. Once the butter has melted, remove from heat and cover. Let it sit overnight. 

  2. The next day, make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with cake spray and a parchment liner. 

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine together 4 large eggs, 2 large egg yolks, and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix to combine. With the mixer on its lowest speed, add the saffron-infused butter (from the night before) and then increase speed and mix until it’s all light and fluffly and well-incorporated. 

  4. In a separate bowl, combine 3 cups cake flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk to combine. 

  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in thirds, and only mix until just combined so as to not over-activate the gluten. 

  6. Pour the batter into the 3 prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. 

  7. Let the cake layers cool completely before frosting the cake. 

  8. Prepare your tools for the frosting –  a wide pot with water, a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and the bowl of a stand mixer with a candy thermometer. 

  9. Heat/stabilize the sugar and egg whites. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar in said bowl of a stand mixer. Set this bowl on/in the water, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 185°F (85°C). Once ready, transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip at high speed for 10 minutes. (I set a timer and let it run).

  10. Add butter to turn the egg whites + sugar into frosting. With mixer still running, add butter in, a little at a time until it’s all combined. Mix in vanilla extract on low speed until well combined.

  11. Add chocolate. Add in the cocoa powder in 1/3rds. Scrape down sides to ensure it’s all incorporated. 

  12. Finish your cake. Frost the frosting onto the 3 layer cake. 



Its okay to not steep the butter overnight w the saffron if you don’t have the time. But you must let the cake layers cool completely!

Keywords: yellow cake, saffron yellow cake, yellow cake with chocolate frosting