This is seriously the most amazing cake. It baked so evenly and so well and was remarkably easy to cut into three separate layers. It also traveled well. (Rumor has it that it tasted good too.) I'll definitely make it again and again.
Vanilla Cake via Jane Hornby's What to Bake and How to Bake It
NOTE: This is just the recipe for the cake part of Hornby's Vanilla Celebration Cake. You can frost it with one of your favorite frosting recipes, though I encourage you to seek out a copy of this book to read Hornby's full recipe! The book comes with so many baking tips and is generally pretty great.
For the cake:
6 eggs, room temperature
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) soft butter, plus extra for greasing
1 3/4 cups sugar, ideally superfine
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
For the syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
Preheat the oven to 325F. Double-line a 9-inch springform or regular deep round cake pan. (Hornby says that double-lining with parchment protects a cake that's going to be baked for a long time, like this one is.)
Separate 3 of the eggs and add the whites to 3 whole eggs. (FYI: You won't need the other 3 yolks in this recipe.) (Maybe you can find a use for them? I never can.)
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla together until very creamy and pale. Pour 1 egg white or egg into the bowl, then beat in until fluffy and light. Repeat until all the egg has been used. If the batter starts to look a bit lumpy at any point, beat in 1 tablespoon of the flour.
Mix the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt together in a bowl. Sift half of this into the cake batter, fold it in, then fold in the buttermilk. Follow with the rest of the flour mixture to make a smooth and fairly thick batter.
Spoon the batter into the pan and level the top. Make a slight dip in the center, which will encourage the cake to rise without a dome. (Dude, this totally worked!)
Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until it has risen well and is golden, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Check carefully, as the cake may sink or seem heavy if underdone. In the meantime, make the syrup: gently heat the sugar, 3 tablespoons water, and vanilla until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. Once out of the oven let the cake cool in the pan until just warm, then poke 25 holes right through it. Slowly spoon the syrup over it, letting it soak in after each addition. Let cool completely in the pan. (It can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month!)