Classic White Cake

  • adapted from Cooks Illustrated
  • makes one 9" round cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tb cake flour (4.5 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1/2 cup whole milk , at room temperature
  • large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tb granulated sugar 
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
  1. Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottom with parchment paper round. Spray the paper round, dust the pan with flour, and invert pan and rap sharply to remove excess flour.

  2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

  3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

  4. Add all but 1/2 of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

  5. Pour into prepared cake pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan wall and smooth top. Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.

  6. Let cake rest in pan for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pan with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire rack. Reinvert onto additional wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.