This simple cake is delicious and hits all those 'comfort food' buttons - I think it tastes an awful lot like a less-artificial, homemade version of boxed white cake! The technique here is interesting - the dry ingredients are creamed into the butter and oil until a dry, sandy mixture forms, and then milk and egg whites are beat in until a smooth, silky batter forms. I'm no expert, but I think this creates a more tender crumb because the fat coats the flour and prevents the gluten from becoming too tough. You can certainly use vanilla extract here for a whiter cake, but I really like the flecks of vanilla from using ground vanilla or the seeds from whole beans - it reminds me of vanilla bean ice cream! I found this cake to be sweet enough that it didn't need any frosting, but it was excellent with a scoop of ice cream - I'll post my recipe for fresh mint ice cream later this week!
Vanilla Cake (adapted from Baking Bites, original recipe here)
Makes one 9-inch round cake
1 cup skim milk
6 egg whites
1-1/2 tsp ground vanilla (or vanilla extract)
2 cups all purpose flour
1-3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 T softened butter
6 T vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan.
2. Combine the milk, egg whites, and vanilla in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside.
3. Combine the flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in an electric mixer and mix on low speed until combined. Add the butter and oil and mix on low speed until the mixture forms sandy clumps.
4. Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and beat at medium-high speed for 1-1/2 minutes. Add the remaining milk, and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
5. Scrape the batter into the springform pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool before serving.