A 19th century recipe for yellow cake that's easy to remember and simple to make. It's also the basis for variations like coconut, orange, lemon, almond and spice cake. My son always requests it plain with chocolate buttercream frosting for his birthday.
1Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread Crisco on the bottom and sides of cake pan(s) and dust with flour. Tap out excess.
2Cream butter, sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla in the large bowl of an electric mixer until very light and fluffy, about four minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula.
3Stir the baking powder into the milk, and with the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour and milk, beginning and ending with flour.
4Bake 30 to 35 minutes for layers, slightly longer for the oblong pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched with your finger.
5Cool the layers in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out on the rack to cool completely. You can leave the oblong cake its pan to cool.
6When completely cooled, finish with your desired filling and frosting.
Coconut: Before adding the flour and milk to the basic cake, stir in 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut and 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract. Frost cake with a coconut frosting.
Orange: Stir in grated zest of 1 orange before adding flour and replace milk with orange juice. Bake cake in a 10-inch, greased and floured tube or Bundt pan.
Almond: Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract along with the vanilla. After frosting, sprinkle sliced almonds over the top.