Many people who learn how to bake cakes from scratch start with a basic two-layer round yellow cake. Round cakes are less likely to fall than rectangular or square cakes, and the yellow cake is the base for many other more elaborate cakes. German chocolate, red velvet and even checkerboard layer cakes are derived from the basic yellow cake. Round layer cakes are very versatile can be decorated in a variety of ways ranging from a whimsical child's birthday cake to a formal wedding cake.
Things You'll Need
- 9-inch round cake pans
- Waxed paper
- Butter or vegetable oil
- Mixing bowls
- Cake flour
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
- Butter or margarine
- Cake leveler or bread knife
Cut two 9-inch circles from the waxed paper. You can use the bottom of the cake pan as a guide. Brush the inside of two 9-inch round cake pans with a very light coat of oil or butter. Fit the circles into the bottoms of the pans and brush again with oil or butter. Set these aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine 3 cups cake flour, 1 tbsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl and set aside. All-purpose flour will also work, but do not use self-rising flour.
Beat 2 cups sugar and 1 cup butter or margarine in a large bowl at low speed until blended. If the butter is at room temperature, this could be done with a spatula or wooden spoon. Beat at high speed until the mixture is creamy--approximately 2 minutes.
Reduce the mixing speed to medium low and add 4 large eggs, one at a time. Combine 1 cup milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a measuring cup and add alternately with the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Add these ingredients gradually and fully incorporate them before adding the next portion. Continue to beat until the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Altitude, humidity and other environmental factors can affect cooking time, so watch closely as the baking time approaches 25 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick stuck into the centers comes out clean. An underdone cake will leave uncooked batter on the toothpick.
Run a knife around the edges of the pans to loosen the cakes and invert them on a cooling rack. Remove the pans and the waxed paper circles. When they are cool, turn one upright and trim the domed top off using a cake leveler or a long serrated knife such as a bread knife. This will create a flat surface for the top layer to rest on, which will make the cake more stable.
Add frosting or filling on top of the leveled cake and place the second layer on top of that. Now the cake is ready to be decorated for whatever occasion you are celebrating.
Tips & Warnings
- If you do not have waxed paper, you can apply a thin coat of butter to the pan and the sprinkle it with flour. Invert the pan and tap it sharply to remove as much excess flour as possible.
- The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook, Ellen Levine, Editor-in-Chief, 1997
- Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham, Marion Cunningham, 1999