Vanilla cake is a deceptively easy recipe to make. If it were easy, there wouldn't be so many incredibly bad ones out there. How often have you eaten a vanilla cake that was either too dry or too dense? Often, the mistakes come from not having knowledge about how cakes actually bake. The recipe below comes from Rose Beranbaum's Cake Bible.
It incorporates all of the techniques necessary to make it incredibly moist and light with a wonderfully buttery, vanilla flavor.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Flour and butter two 9"x 1 1/2" cake pans. Line bottom of each with parchment paper, and flour and butter again. In bowl, add 1/4 cup milk and vanilla extract. In your electric mixer bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, and mix until blended. Add butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. To aerate and develop the cakes' structure, increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
Scrape down the mixture from the sides of the bowl. Slowly add egg mixture a third at a time, beating the batter for 30 sections after each third added in order to fully incorporate the egg. Divide the batter and pour into each pan, smoothing the mixture with the back of a spatula.
The pans will be half full. Bake 25-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes in their pans for ten minutes, then flip them out onto a greased rack up, placing them upside down onto a greased rack. Cool and frost!