Yellow Layer Cake
From Cook's Country
Traditional yellow layer cake should melt in the mouth and taste of butter and eggs. But many layer cake recipes that we tried came out crumbly, sugary, and hard. As for the flavor, they tasted merely sweet. We made a few refinements to the usual yellow layer cake recipe. For starters, we took down the sugar slightly, which allowed more buttery flavor to come through. Softened butter blended more easily into the dry ingredients and coated the flour particles with fat. If the butter was too cold or too warm, the cake became heavy or greasy. Rotating the pans once during baking ensured that both cakes cooked evenly and could stand up to a heavy slathering of frosting.
Makes two 9-inch cakes
To quickly bring the eggs and milk to room temperature (65 degrees), submerge them in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes after mixing them together. Adding the butter pieces to the mixing bowl one at a time prevents the dry ingredients from flying up and out of the bowl.
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans.
2. Whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla together in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute.
3. Add half of egg mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining egg mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds (batter may look slightly curdled). Give batter final stir by hand.
- 4. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until tops are light golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 2 hours.
Proper Measuring and Mixing
1. The butter (shown here without wrapper) is properly softened when it bends with little resistance and does not crack or break.
2. For accurate measuring, sift flour until mounded into the measuring cup set on parchment or waxed paper. Use a straight-sided utensil to level the flour.
3. When dry ingredients and butter begin to form clumps, after 30 to 40 seconds of mixing, add 1 cup of lquid and beat until liquid is fully absorbed.