Possibly the only cake recipe you will ever need and so simple you can commit it to memory! This makes two 9-inch, round yellow cakes—the kind your mom might have used for your birthday or another celebration.
Serves 8


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups cake flour (spooned into cup and leveled off), sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon


Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350. Coat two 9-inch, round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper. Coat the paper with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until light in texture. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, stir together the milk, vanilla and lemon zest. Alternately, beat the flour mixture and the milk mixture into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the pans.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cakes start to pull away from the sides of the pans and a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a metal spatula around the sides to loosen the cakes and invert (right side up) onto the rack to cool completely. Pull off the paper.

From The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook: 100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden (Rodale) by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, Brent Ridge and Sandy Gluck.


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