White cake is a workhorse. Combine it with vanilla, fruit flavored, chocolate, espresso, lemon or really any flavored frosting or buttercream. It makes a great birthday cake or celebration cake and should have a place in your repertoire. I like King Arthur’s Cake Flour because it is unbleached and produces a lovely texture and flavor. You can mail-order it, or it is beginning to be stocked in some larger supermarkets.
Makes two 8 or 9-inch by 2-inch cake layers
3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour, preferably King Arthur Unbleached
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the insides of two 8 or 9-inch by 2-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line bottoms with parchment rounds, then spray parchment.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside. Whisk together the egg whites and milk in a small bowl; set aside.
3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla.
4. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternately with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Divide batter evenly in pans and smooth tops with offset spatula.
5. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The cake will be tinged with light golden brown around the edges and top and will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Cool pans on racks for 8 minutes. Unmold, peel off parchment, and place directly on racks to cool completely. Layers are ready to fill and frost. Alternatively, place on layers on cardboards and double wrap in plastic wrap; store at room temperature if assembling within 24 hours.