If you are looking for a party cake, here is a goody. It makes a good size mixture, can be easily coloured and is on the firmer side so copes well with cutting into shapes and layering into tiers.
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
3 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
250g butter at room temperature, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Food colouring - 2 or 3 different colours
- i used yellow and red, and kept one cake plain vanilla, but you can choose what colour your three layers will be.
Turn your oven on to 175°C and grease and baking paper line 3 x 20cm cake tins. If you have 1 x 20cm cake tin like most people (including me!), you can cook 1 cake at a time, re-greasing and lining with paper in between.
Sieve all the dry ingredients into a stand electric mixer bowl (or if you dont have one, a big mixing bowl). Gradually add the butter cubes into the mixer, and mix on medium speed until the mixture combines to look like bread crumbs.
In a separate bowl, whisk milk, eggs and vanilla together until frothy. Using a spatular add the liquid mixture into the dry mixture gradually in batches, folding the mixture between batches until both are combined. Do not over mix!
Separate the cake batter into three bowls evenly and add colour to each one. For mine below, i made pink using a small amount of red colour, and a peachy colour using yellow and a touch of red. Go easy on the colouring and be sure to have a damp cloth nearby as it's messy stuff. My third colour, was just neutral vanilla cake, which looks a bit yellow once baked.
Pore your first colour into your greased tin, and if you are lucky to have 2 or 3 you can cook more cakes simultaneously. Otherwise, leave the other two mixtures covered on the bench and out of the sun.
Bake each cake for 35 minutes. Prick with a skewer to check if the centre is cooked.
Once the cakes are cooked and cooled, you'll need to trim their rounded tops so that they sit flat on top of each other when tiered. Using a bread knife, put the cake on its edge and cut straight down carefully.
With an electric mixer, beat icing sugar and butter until it's light and soft. Gradually add flavouring of choice, 1/4 cup at a time, tasting the buttercream until you are happy with the amount of flavour. Don't add too much extra liquid for flavours as the buttercream will go sloppy.
I always crumb-coat my cakes, so all this means is apply a thin layer of buttercream, scrapping off any extra, around the whole cake (see picture below). Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up, then you are ready to ice your cake until your hearts content :)