This Vanilla Cake recipe is the base for most of my cakes. It's got a great crumb, is moist and tender but is dense enough to carve and stack for wedding cakes or sculpted cakes. This recipe makes three 8" round cakes or two 9" round cakes.
IMPORTANT: Make sure all your ingredients are at room temp and you're using a scale to measure (see notes at the bottom of the recipe)
Heat oven to 335º F/168º C . Prepare three 8" cake pans or two 9" cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan release.
Place 4oz of the milk and oil in a separate bowl or cup and set aside
Combine remaining milk, vanilla and room temp eggs in a separate measuring cup and set aside
Measure out dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) and place them into the stand mixer bowl.
Attach the paddle to the mixer, and turn on the slowest speed (setting 1 on Kitchen Aid mixers). Slowly add chunks of your softened butter until it is all added. Let mix until batter resembles coarse sand.
Add milk/oil mixture into the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed (speed 4 on my KitchenAid) and mix for 2 full minutes. Do not skip this step or your cake will not rise.
Reduce the speed to low. Add in 1/3 of your milk/egg mixture and let it mix in fully. Repeat 2 more times until batter is just combined. Don't forget to scrape your bowl. Divide your batter into your pans.
I always start by baking for 25 minutes for 8" and smaller cakes and 30 minutes for 9" and larger cakes and then checking for doneness. If the cakes are still really jiggly, I add another 5 minutes. I check every 5 minutes after that until I'm close and then it's every 2 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs.
Remove the cake pan from the oven and "tap" it lightly on the counter once to remove air from the cake and keep it from shrinking un-evenly.
Place cakes on a cooling rack and press down the dome immediately with an oven mitt covered hand. After cakes have cooled for 10 minutes or the pans are cool enough to touch, flip the cakes over and remove from the pans onto the cooling racks to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.
Once the cakes are chilled in the refrigerator (about an hour for this size, longer for larger cakes), tort, fill and crumb coat all at once. If you do not plan on crumb coating the same day, you can leave the wrapped cakes on the countertop. Chilling can dry out your cakes before they are iced, so avoid keeping them in the refrigerator longer than necessary. Cakes can be frozen in freezer bags for later use as well.
Place egg whites and powdered sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Attach the whisk and combine ingredients on low and then whip on high for 5 minutes
Add in your butter in chunks and whip with the whisk attachment to combine. It will look curdled at first. This is normal. It will also look pretty yellow. Keep whipping.
Let whip on high for 8-10 minutes until it's very white, light and shiny. Add in a tiny drop of purple (too much will make the frosting grey)
Switch to a paddle attachment and mix on low for 15-20 minutes to make the buttercream very smooth and remove air bubbles. This isn't required but if you want really creamy frosting, you don't want to skip it.
Important Things To Note Before You Start
1. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature or even a little warm (eggs, buttermilk, butter, etc) to ensure your batter does not break or curdle.
2. Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe.
3. Practice Mise en Place (everything in it's place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
4. Chill your cakes before frosting and filling. You can cover a frosted and chilled cake in fondant if you wish. This cake is also great for stacking. I always keep my cakes chilled in the refrigerator before delivery for easy transporting.