This cake breaks most of my rules about cake baking, and it is still my favorite. I love Rose Levy Berenbaum's Golden Butter Cream Cake also, but there is something about the simplicity and purity of this cake that keeps bringing me back to it. I have found it to be the cake that give me more raves in the 'yellow" category than any other. I don't know why Betty Crocker (for this is from the 1950s Color Cookbook) has created, somehow, this cake that is both light and rich, not yellow enough to be yellow and but certainly not a white cake.
This cake is just fine on it's own, in the British style, with just a dusting of confectioner's sugar. Or, I have served it with liquid, warm cream poured over it. A minimalist's delight, with coffee or tea or milk. This cake particularly shines under any good chocolate icing, also.
I can't say enough about this cake -- even though it has no butter, and isn't really technically a layer cake, and doesn't follow most of my cake rules, it's still the best!
Now, I dont' promise everyone will love this cake -- and I also don't think it's foolproof. You gotta sift a lot and measure exactly. And know your oven. And just generally pay attention, as with all cakes.
This cake is designed for a 9x9x1-3/4 inch square pan, but it does well in a 9 inch round that's 2 inches deep, or in a springform. To make it a layer cake -- split the cake in half (don't bake in two layer).
If you wish to make 3 thick layers, double this recipe and divide between three 9 inch layers. You may have a little batter left over -- make a cupcake or two.
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup soft shortening (I use the non-hydrogenated Spectrum shortening with great success. I have made it with very pure leaf lard, and the texture was incredible as was the flavor -- not porky but rather light and rich. But I imagine most people will not be making this with lard!)
1 teaspoon flavoring (vanilla of course, and I also like rose water or cognac. the congnac version is particularly good if you're not going to ice)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup of egg (usually one whole egg plus one extra egg yolk)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your pan(s). Measure flour by dip-level-pour method. I sift three times. Then I blend with the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and sift at least one more time. Add shortening, milk, and flavoring. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer, or 300 vigorous strokes by hand. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl constantly. Add egg. Beat 2 more minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Pour into pan(s) Bake 30-35 minutes (layers in the doubled recipe may take a shorter time). Cool. Frost as desired.
I actually like this cake best when beaten by hand (it's not too onerous). I have had more success than I have with an electric mixer. I have never made this in my Kitchenaid standing mixer, as I think it might be too easy to overbeat. Try by hand first -- which also means no mixer cleanup.
I sometimes cut this into shapes with cake cutters, and drizzle with a glaze, or frost fancifully for a fancy tea.
Oh, and by the way -- if I haven't said it before -- BUY the Magi-Cake Strips and USE them! They work!