Preheat the oven and prepare the cake tins before starting to mix the cake.
To prepare a cake tin, grease the inside lightly and line the base with a piece of baking paper, cut to fit.
Have all the ingredients at room temperature, including the eggs and milk, so they will mix in easily.
Sift the dry ingredients together and stir to combine them well.
Creaming the butter and sugar is important because it beats air into the mixture which helps the cake to rise and gives it a light texture. Use a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, and make sure the butter is soft, but not melted. Beat hard for several minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
Fold in the sifted dry ingredients alternately with liquids, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Folding means mixing very gently, just turning the mixture over and rotating the bowl as you go. Mix just enough to combine the ingredients. A slotted metal spoon is a good implement to use for folding.
Don’t overfill the cake tins – allow room for the mixture to rise. Aim to have the tins two-thirds full.
When the cake is cooked it should spring back when touched lightly with your finger and the mixture will have pulled slightly away from the sides of the tin.
Leave large cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool. This allows the cake to ‘set’ and helps to stop it breaking.
Leave cakes until completely cold before filling and icing.