Plain & Simple Golden Cake

Recipe by PJ Hamel

Sometimes simplicity isn't as simple as it seems. Striking the perfect balance among flavor, texture, moistness, and appearance can be quite a challenge when you're making a plain yellow cake. But when you do achieve that balance — you're golden!

This cake is light-textured and fine-grained; relatively moist, given its light texture; and not overly sweet, making it a good candidate for any kind of filling or frosting you desire.

10 mins
35 to 38 mins
45 mins
one 9" round or 8" square cake
Plain & Simple Golden Cake


Prevent your screen from going dark as you follow along.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8" x 2" square pan; or a 9" x 2" round pan. To assure crumble-free removal of the cake from the round pan, line the pan with parchment.

  2. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and Cake Enhancer in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

  3. Cut the butter into pats, and add it to the bowl. Mix at low speed until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, and almond.

  5. Add half the milk/egg mixture to the flour in the bowl. Beat just to combine, then add the remaining milk/egg mixture, beating just to combine.

  6. Stir in the lemon juice.

  7. Beat the batter at high speed for 15 seconds, to make sure everything is totally combined.

  8. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.

  9. Bake the cake on your oven's middle rack for 35 to 38 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, and the center of the top springs back when pressed lightly with your finger.

  10. Remove the cake from the oven, and place it on a rack. After 10 to 15 minutes, loosen its edges with a table knife or spatula; and carefully turn it out onto a rack. Peel off the parchment, and turn it right side up. Let the cake cool completely before serving. Serve plain; sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, or spread with your favorite icing.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Can you use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour in place of the cake flour? Yes. Your cake will be a bit denser/coarser, but just as delicious.
  • Why the range for salt? Each of us has our own personal "salt tolerance." If you're someone who doesn't bake with a lot of salt, use the lesser amount; if you find you generally prefer things saltier than less so, use the greater amount.
  • This cake is tall enough that you can split it horizontally, to make top and bottom layers; or you can double this recipe and bake it in two 9" or 8" square pans to make a layer cake. Add filling and topping/icing. It's a good candidate for Boston Cream Pie; simply fill with vanilla pudding or pastry cream and top with chocolate ganache.