After many attempts and way too much cake eating, I think I’ve narrowed down a pretty good basic layer cake recipe. I started with Granny’s Feather Cake recipe which she has been making for years as her famous Pineapple Cake. The recipe works fine with the pineapple cake because the pineapple filling soaks into the layers and keeps them moist. But when I tried it with other frostings, the cake turned out a little dry.
I turned to chemist/baker Shirley Corriher to help me tweak the original recipe. Here’s the original:
3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
After playing around with it a few times, the ratio I finally settled on included more egg yolks, added butter and changed the shortening to vegetable oil. The result is a cake that has the perfect amount of crumb and stays nice and moist.
Start by buttering and flouring 3 cake pans. I also like to add a round of parchment paper just to be sure nothing sticks. Then sift 3 cups cake flour together with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, cream butter and vegetable oil for about 5 minutes, then add sugar. Add eggs then yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add flour and milk alternately and then stir in vanilla.
Pour an even amount of batter into each cake pan. You can measure the batter, but I just eyeball it.
Now, here’s a secret that I learned years ago. When we were little, my friend Claudia’s family employed a lady to help around the house and cook occasionally. One day I was visiting and watched her making a cake. She took the pans and held them in the air then dropped them on the counter several times, a trick which releases the air bubbles in the batter, helping prevent the cake from cracking.
Bake the layers for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. Keep an eye on them because you don’t want to overcook. Layers are done when they turn golden brown and are springy to the touch, and of course you can always check with a toothpick, which I recommend doing at 20 minutes.
Remove the layers from the oven and cool on racks for 10 minutes, then flip out of pans and onto wax or parchment paper set on racks.
Allow to cool and then frost. Easy and perfect every time!
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 6 egg yolks
- 1¼ cup whole milk
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Grease and flour 3 9-inch cake pans and then cover bottom with parchment paper.
- Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Cream butter and vegetable oil for 5-7 minutes.
- Add sugar to butter and mix well for several minutes.
- Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Add flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with flour.
- Stir in vanilla.
- Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.