I've mentioned before that making cakes was my culinary downfall--particularly layer cakes, which never seemed to hold together properly. Well, I am pleased to say my days of sorry cake baking are over! Incidentally, the recipe that fixed it all also turns out to be one of the easiest cake recipes in the world, so I decided I had to share it with you all.
2 1/2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. shortening
1/3 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 T vanilla
Preheat oven to 350F. Put all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend on low speed until combined and liquid won't slosh out of the bowl. Blend on high speed 3 minutes. Meanwhile, cut parchment rounds for 9'' round cake pans. Grease pans, place parchment round in bottom of pans, and grease parchment. Pour half batter into each pan. Bake 35-40 minutes until tester comes out clean. Let cool completely in pans. Turn out layers and decorate as desired.
Makes a 2- or 4-layer cake, depending on whether you halve the two layers. Serves about 12.
This cake goes wonderfully with just about any frosting. I like putting sliced strawberries between and frosting it with whipped cream. It's also delicious by itself, with jam spread between the layers and dusted with confectioners' sugar for a simple mid-week dessert or afternoon tea.
You can also make an almond cake (which our family actually prefers to vanilla) by reducing the vanilla extract in the recipe to 2 t. and adding 1 t. almond extract. We love this spread between with apricot jam and frosted with an almond-flavored buttercream.