Making your own homemade vanilla layer cake is not difficult to do and yet so many people rely on boxed cake mixes instead of making a cake from scratch. Boxed cake mixes haven’t contributed much to the culinary world other than to diminish the confidence of home cooks. They are, after all, just the dry ingredients mixed together for convenience along with a lot of other ingredients that you can’t pronounce. I don’t know about you, but when I bake a cake it’s almost always for a special occasion. And, if it’s a special occasion I want the very best cake I can make. While cake boxes are convenient and easy, they don’t give you spectacular or remarkable results. Homemade cakes, on the other hand, not only taste great, but also have a whole lot of love stirred into them which is always appreciated by those who get to indulge. So let’s learn how easy it is.
How to make a homemade layer cake
The most important step in making your homemade vanilla layer cake is creaming the butter. Make sure you don’t skimp on this step and let the beaters cream the butter until it truly is light in color and fluffy. This could take up to 5 minutes. The key to making this step easy is to make sure your butter is room temperature before you start. Once the butter and sugar are properly creamed, add the eggs and the vanilla extract. This is your butter mixture.
Then, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and whisk or sift these ingredients to ensure there are no lumps left. These are your dry ingredients.
Next, combine the milk and lemon juice in a glass measure. These are your wet ingredients.
Finally, and this is important, you are going to mix all these three – butter mixture, dry ingredients and wet ingredients – together in a gradual fashion. Start by adding a third of the dry ingredients to the butter and stir together. Add a third of the wet ingredients and stir together. Repeat two more times, alternating dry and wet ingredients until everything is just stirred together – no need to over-mix. The reason you alternate the wet and dry ingredients is because it makes it easier to incorporate them into the butter mixture rather than trying to stir everything together all at once. It also helps prevent over mixing by allowing you to stir until the ingredients are just combined.
For the most tender cake possible, use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Cake flour is a very low protein flour. That means it doesn’t contain a lot of gluten. Gluten is useful when making bread, when you want a structure that holds together, one that you can bite and chew through. No-one wants a cake that they have to chew, so we want to limit the amount of gluten. Hence, cake flour.
Butter and Flour your Cake Pan
Buttering and flouring your cake pan does more than just ensure that your cake will easy to un-mold, although that is the most important role. Flouring the pan after you butter shows you any area you might have missed with the butter, giving you a second chance to go back and make sure the whole pan is coated. The flour also gives the cake batter something to grip as it cooks, helping it to rise more evenly on the sides. Flouring the pan is optional. Buttering the pan is not! Doing both is the best course of action.
Room Temperature Ingredients
When you decide to bake a cake, take all your ingredients out of the fridge and the cabinets and put them on the counter. Then, have a cup of coffee. Seriously. Try to wait for the ingredients to warm a little. As I mentioned above, being room temperature is critical for the butter, but it’s also a good idea for the eggs and milk too. If all the ingredients are room temperature, they are more easily blended together.