Ingredients

15 oz cake flour
14 oz granulated sugar
12 oz whole milk
1 tsp sea salt
4 large eggs
1 oz vegetable oil
1 whole lemon zest
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon extract
8 oz unsalted butter


Instructions

Heat oven to 335º F/168º C — 350º F/177º C. I tend to use lower setting to prevent my cakes from getting too dark on the outside before the inside is done baking.

Measure out the liquid ingredients and place them into a bowl.

[measure out liquid ingredients and set them aside]

Measure out dry ingredients and place them into the stand mixer bowl.

[measure out dry ingredients into a stand mixer bowl]

Attach the paddle to the mixer, and turn on the slowest speed (setting 1 on Kitchen Aid mixers). Slowly add chunks of your softened butter until it is all added. Let mix until batter resembles coarse sand.

[attach the paddle attachment and turn on lowest setting]

Add 1/3 of your liquid ingredients while mixing on low until just moistened. This part is crucial. Don't add too much liquid.

[add one third of your liquid ingredients and mix]

Increase mixing speed to medium (setting 5 on Kitchen Aid mixer). Let the mixture whip up until it has thickened and lightened in color. It should look like soft-serve ice cream. If you do not let the batter mix fully, you will end up with very short, cumbly cakes. This mixing can take up to 2 minutes. It is important not to undermix or overmix your batter.

[whip your cake batter for 2 minutes]

Scrape the bowl. This is an important step. If you skip it, you will have hard lumps of flour and unmixed ingredients in your batter. If you do it later, they will not mix in fully.

Slowly add in the rest of your liquid ingredients, stopping to scrape the bowl one more time halfway through. Your batter should be thick and not too runny. I have to spoon mine into pans with a rubber spatula.

[cake batter should be thick enough to spoon it out of the bowl with a rubber spatula]

Lightly grease 2 8" cake pans with vegetable shortening and dust with cake flour. Tap out excess flour. Fill pans 3/4 full. Give the pan a little tap on each side to level out the batter and get rid of any air bubbles.

I always start by baking for 20 minutes for 8" and smaller cakes and 30 minutes for 9" and larger cakes and then checking for doneness. If the cakes are still really jiggly, I add another 10 minutes. I check every 5 minutes after that until I'm close and then it's every 2 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. 

[grease the cake pans with vegetable oil then dust with cake flour and tap out the excess then fill three quarters full with cake batter]

Remove cakes from oven. If they are domed up, place a clean tea towel on top and using an oven mitt, lightly press down until flat. This does not harm the cakes at all and cuts down on waste.

After cakes have cooled for 10 minutes or the pans are cool enough to touch, flip the cakes over and remove from the pans onto the cooling racks to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

[flip cakes out of pan to cool on a cooling rack]

Once the cakes are chilled in the refrigerator (about an hour for this size, longer for larger cakes), tort, fill and crumb coat all at once. If you do not plan on crumb coating the same day, you can leave the wrapped cakes on the countertop. Chilling can dry out your cakes before they are iced, so avoid keeping them in the refrigerator longer than necessary. Cakes can be frozen in freezer bags for later use as well.