I finally managed to remember to order the Magi-Cake strips to wrap around round cake pans for even baking. Except Magi-Cake strips can only be fastened with a pin and I wanted the ones that fastened with velcro (you ever try stabbing those pins into a cake strip while the strip was around the pan and still manage to keep the cake strip snug around said pan? Total pain - velcro fasteners are better). Fortunately Regency had "Evenbake Cake Strips" with velcro fasteners so I got those. Best things ever - soak them in water before using, wipe off excess water, fasten around the cake pan, pour your batter in and bake. And they worked too - my cake layers rose up evenly instead of baking faster at the edges and having a higher, rounded middle. The only drawback is they came in a pack of 2 (or at least the ones I bought did) so I only had 2 and my recipe called for making a 3-layer cake. But no problem, I only baked 2 layers and used the leftover batter to make cupcakes. I liked the results of the cake layers so much though that I'm probably going to buy another set of 2 cake strips in case I ever do want to make a 3- (or 4-) layer cake.
I've been wanting to try this recipe from the Buttercup Bake Shop for awhile but it called for self-rising flour. I can only find self-rising flour in the 5-lb bags and I don't have many recipes that call for it so it seemed a little excessive to buy a bag just to use 1 1/2 cups of it. But I needed a vanilla cake recipe as I was meeting my cousin and her son for dinner and his favorite flavor is vanilla (my cousin: "Jason, do you want vanilla or vanilla?" Jason: "I think I'll have vanilla"). Since I still didn't have any self-rising flour on hand, I decided to just substitute. The lead-in to the recipe says not to substitute but I was feeling reckless. Instead of the self-rising flour, I used all-purpose flour for all of the flour except I used a scant 1/4 cup in the last measure and added 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Turned out pretty well so I'm glad I gambled on it. The texture of the cupcakes was light, almost spongy but definitely cakey and the flavor was a nice butter/vanilla flavor.
I think I underbaked the cake layers slightly as they weren't as light as the cupcakes but a bit more dense. I actually liked their texture a bit better, probably because they were a little more moist. The frosting turned out a bit too sweet for me but I'm not really a frosting fan and use it sparingly anyway. This would make a good 3-layer cake as the layers aren't too thick or too thin and stacking all 3 layers would not only look pretty but be manageable enough to eat.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups self-rising flour (or substitute 1 1/2 scant cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and lightly flour three 9 x 2-inch round cake pans; then line the bottoms with wax paper.
3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on the medium speed of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix the milk and vanilla together. Thoroughly combine the flours and add in two parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla mixture and beating well after each addition.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
5. If you’re making cupcakes, line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Spoon the batter into the cups about two-thirds full. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 20 to 22 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and cool completely on a rack before icing.
6. When the cake has cooled, frost between the layers, then the top and sides of the cake.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
7 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)
1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the icing is a good spreading consistency (you may not use all the sugar). If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.
2. Use and store the icing at room temperature, as the icing will set if chilled. It can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. This yields icing for one 2- or 3-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes.