From America's Test Kitchen Season 1: The Perfect All-Purpose Cake
Traditional yellow layer cake should melt in the mouth and taste of butter and eggs. But many layer cake recipes that we tried came out crumbly, sugary, and hard. As for the flavor, they tasted merely sweet. We made a few refinements to the usual yellow layer cake recipe. For starters, we took down the sugar slightly, which allowed more buttery flavor to come through. Softened butter blended more easily into the dry ingredients and coated the flour particles with fat. If the butter was too cold or too warm, the cake became heavy or greasy. Rotating the pans once during baking ensured that both cakes cooked evenly and could stand up to a heavy slathering of frosting.
Makes two 9-inch cakes
To quickly bring the eggs and milk to room temperature (65 degrees), submerge them in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes after mixing them together. Adding the butter pieces to the mixing bowl one at a time prevents the dry ingredients from flying up and out of the bowl.