Vanilla layered cake

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This vanilla layer cake is one of our bakery staples that we are frequently asked for and if you make it in a food processor it takes no time at all. As with most vanilla cake recipes, the list of ingredients is fairly standard, but factor in good-quality ingredients, careful measuring and weighing and setting the correct oven temperatures, and the result is fantastic. We use this as the basis of many a birthday cake, not least because it can be iced and decorated to any effect. Vanilla layer cake is a fairly simple dessert to make, and it is certainly cake that will be popular in your family. What makes this vanilla layer cake our favourite is the fact you can use different fillings, different tastes and adjust the recipe to any season to use fresh products.

Ingredients:

unsalted butter, at room temperature

225 g caster sugar

210 g self-raising flour, sifted

25 g cornflour

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 large eggs, free-range or organic

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
To decorate choose one of the following: • 1 batch of any Buttercream Icing • 3 tablespoons strawberry or raspberry jam and 1 batch of Vanilla Buttercream Icing • ‘Whipped cream and fresh strawberries, plus icing sugar, for dusting

Vanilla Layer cake

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Put the butter, sugar, flour, cornflour and baking powder into a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until evenly mixed. Add the remaining ingredients gradually, processing briefly until just combined. Don’t be tempted to overmix or you will take all the air out of the cakes.

If you prefer, you can prepare the mixture with an electric hand mixer. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is pale and smooth – this should take 3-5 minutes. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the eggs to the creamed mixture, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition, alternating with the dry ingredients, and finally the vanilla extract and the milk. Beat well after each addition, but again do not overbeat.

Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until raised and golden brown. Insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes – it should come out clean if it is cooked. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool. Peel the greaseproof paper from the bases of the cakes. Once they are cool, sandwich the layers together with half of the buttercream icing and cover the top of the cake with the rest. Decorate the cake with whatever fits with your occasion. As an alternative, for a classic Victoria sponge cake, sandwich the cakes with a thin layer of strawberry or raspberry jam and some vanilla buttercream uncoloured), or with freshly whipped double cream and some sliced strawberries arid dust the top with icing sugar.

Makes two 20cm (8-inch cakes), which can be sandwiched together to make one layer cake