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Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease the bottoms of two 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with wax paper; grease and lightly flour the pans. (Or grease one 13-by-9-inch baking pan.) Set pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined. Scrape sides of bowl; beat for 2 minutes more. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more. Spread in the prepared pan(s).
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch pans and 13-by-9-inch pan or 30 to 35 minutes for 9-inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pans. Peel off wax paper. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Or cool the 13-by-9-inch cake in the pan on a wire rack.