Start to Finish: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus cooling time
Servings: 8
Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate

A basic cake recipe can give you a sweet, light, moist cake in a matter of minutes, and homemade buttercream icing is not only fast to make, but delicious and elegant. The best part is, once you have the hang of the recipes, you can easily customize them with a few simple tricks. This makes a vanilla cake with buttercream icing not only a good go-to dessert for a dinner party or a picnic, or a potluck or celebration meal, but also a starting point to develop your very own signature baked good. The two recipes are adapted from ones from Country Living and Betty Crocker.

On a cake tray or plate, place one of the cake rounds in the center. Add two heaping spoonfuls of icing to the center of the cake, and spread across the surface of the cake to an even depth. Spoon on more icing as needed.

Tips

Ice the edges of the cake first, if you want to frost the sides, then frost the top.

Avoid using more than a 1/2- to 3/4-inch depth of icing on the surface of the cake, as more than that can cause the frosting to squish out when the second layer is added.

Place the second cake directly on top of the first cake, so that the frosted top of the first cake sits underneath the bottom of the second, un-iced, cake. Align carefully and place it down gently, to avoid an uneven frosting layer between the cakes.

Frost the top and sides of the second cake, smoothing over the separation between the two cakes. Serve immediately, or store, covered with a cake dome, for up to 5 hours at room temperature. The cake can also be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge, covered.