Better than a boxed cake, and almost as easy to make!
Have the courage to try ... that's the ILOC way. Once you start making birthday cakes for the ones you love, you'll probably never go back to the mix. Cake from the box and frosting from a tub is fine, but a homemade layer cake is a most special birthday gift. The frosting in this recipe is a basic vanilla that can be dyed any color you like. If you want winter white icing, go to a specialty cake supply store to purchase colorless vanilla extract, and use only vegetable shortening. Over the years I have made many a special-request cake with this recipe I crafted as a base.
Equipment: large mixing bowls; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; cutting board; paring or chef’s knife; whisk; hand or standing mixer; rubber spatula; wooden spoon; cake pans; offset spatula; (parchment and wax papers)
for the cake:
2¾ cups self-rising (cake) flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups whole milk
for the buttercream frosting: 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened ¼ cup vegetable shortening 8 cups confectioner’s sugar ½ cup whole milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour two round cake pans, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
Custom Parchment Paper Liner for a Round Cake Pan
“Take a sheet of parchment paper and fold it half, then fold it in half again (you should have a square). Fold that square in half again diagonally, and then fold it one more time (you should have a triangle). Place the point of the folded parchment paper over the center of the cake pan to measure its radius. Trim the excess parchment paper from the edge of the pan and you'll have a perfect fit.”
2. In a small mixing bowl, sift the self-rising flour with the kosher salt and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and milk in thirds, beating well after each addition.
4. Pour half the batter in each cake pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cake.
5. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
6. To make the icing, beat the butter and shortening in large mixing bowl. Add half the confectioner’s sugar, plus all the milk and vanilla. Beat until creamy and smooth. Then add the sugar, ½ cup at a time, until the frosting is thick enough to be spreadable. If you want to dye the icing, now is the time to add a few drops of food coloring.
7. To assemble the layer cake, be sure the cakes have cooled completely. If they have rounded tops, and are not perfectly flat, trim them. Using a bread knife, move the knife back and forth as you slice across the top of the cake to make a perfectly flat layer.
8. Put several small pieces of wax paper around the edge of a plate or cake stand to protect the plate from getting messy and smudged while you frost the cake. Place one cake in the center, the trimmed top facing up. Using an offset spatula, frost the sides and top of the cake. Then add the second cake to the frosted cake, but this time with the trimmed top down, touching the frosted cake. Frost the cake, paying close attention to blending the sides well so you do not see the layers.
9. Carefully remove the wax paper before serving.
Makes 12-16 servings.