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Amirah Kassem, cookbook author and baker behind Flour Shop's eye-catching explosive rainbow cakes, shares her fave layer cake recipe—which she calls "Bonilla Vanilla Cake."
Natural Nonstick Trick: If you don't have cooking spray, use the wrapper from the butter to grease your pans. Then pour a little flour into the pan, shaking the pan so the butter is covered in flour, and then shake it out.
Adapted from The Power Of Sprinkles by Amirah Kassem. Copyright © 2019 by Amirah Kassem. Used with permission by Abrams. All rights reserved.
Preheat oven to 350˚F and position oven rack in the middle of the oven. For convection ovens, preheat to 325˚F.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend butter and sugar together until fluffy. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula so it’s all mixed in. Add eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture with the mixer on medium speed. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Combine vanilla and milk.
Mix about ⅓ dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture, then blend in half of the milk, always mixing on medium speed. Mix in the second third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining milk mixture. Stop the mixer for a few seconds and use a spatula to scrape down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, then mix in the last of the flour mixture. Make sure it's all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth. You don't want any lumps, but don't overmix—stop the mixer as soon as the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter evenly into six portions: They don't have to be exactly identical, but you want them to be close. Use small bowls that are all the same size: Slowly pour the batter into each of the bowls a little at a time until they are all at the same height. (It's about 1 cup of batter per bowl.)
Color the batter individually in rainbow colors: We use purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and pink for our six-layer cakes. Start with a tiny drop of food coloring, stir it in completely, then add more until it is your desired color. (The baked cake will come out pretty close to what you see—the outside will be a little brown, but that gets covered with frosting.)
Spray six 6-inch round baking pans with cooking spray, then pour the colored batter into the greased pans. Tap each pan on the counter to level the cakes.
Bake two cakes at a time for 8 minutes without opening the oven door, then rotate each pan so the front faces the back. Bake for another 8 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. (Cakes are very sensitive. The less you open your oven, the better your cake will come out! I know don't exactly why, but I know it.)
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes. (When they're warm, they're really fragile, and that's when they tend to break.) Flip them over onto a baking sheet or cooling rack and let them cool completely before frosting.