A Good Plain Yellow Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 2


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About


  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1⅓ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 cup) solid, white vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place the oven rack just below the center of the oven.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Before you start to make the cake, do this: rub the inner bottoms of two 8-inch layer cake pans lightly with shortening. Using the fingers, sprinkle the inner bottoms and sides with flour, then hold the pans, one at a time, over the sink and shake out the excess flour.

  4. To prepare the cake, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix with a fork. Add the shortening and start beating on medium speed. Add cup of milk and continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes.

  5. Add the eggs, remaining milk, and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

  6. Spoon half the batter into one of the prepared pans.

  7. Spoon the remaining batter into the other pan, using a rubber scraper to get most of the batter from the bowl. Spread the batter neatly to the edges of the pans.

  8. Place the pans on the oven rack, making certain they do not touch the back or sides of the oven.

  9. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. To tell when the cake is done, at the end of 30 minutes time, press the surface with the fingers, but very lightly. If the surface of the cake springs back, it is done. Otherwise the finger impressions will remain on the surface of the cake and you should continue baking for 5 minutes or more until it springs back when touched. When done, the cake will spring away from the sides of the pans.

  10. Take the layers from the oven and place on a rack to cool. Let stand for 5 minutes and run a spatula around the sides of each pan. Place a cake rack over each layer and invert so that the cake comes out of the pan.