Editor’s note: Sadie Davis-Suskind, 14, is an eighth grader at Jane Addams Middle School and an aspiring chef. A former “MasterChef Junior” competitor, Davis-Suskind will share a recipe each week that other kids can make as well.

Greetings from my family to yours!

It’s Week 5 of our time together and I hope everyone is happy and healthy! I would like to use this week to start what I call the cooking building-blocks series. We’ll start with a basic recipe that we can then build upon to create culinary masterpieces in your home kitchen, or at least something that’s easy to serve your family for dinner!

The first building-block recipe is basic vanilla cake. Why cake? Some would say: Cake is life (you can quote me on that!). Personally, cake is my happy place. It reminds me of birthdays and celebrations and being surrounded by the people I love the most, friends and family.

Also, learning a basic cake recipe allows you to master a foundational recipe from which you can build upon and expand. Plus, this recipe is delicious! So here goes:


1 cup unsalted butter (plus some extra to grease your pan)

2½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup milk or buttermilk


Two 8-inch-by-2-inch round cake pans

Medium mixing bowl

Large mixing bowl

Electric mixer

Wire rack

Let’s go step by step:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pans with butter, then lightly sprinkle flour on them and gently tap away the excess.

2. In your medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.


3. In your large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, using an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy. Put the mixer on low and beat in the eggs and the three egg yolks, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla and milk/buttermilk. Finally, alternate between beating in some of the flour mixture first, then the milk mixture, then the flour mixture, until everything is combined nicely.

4. Divide the batter between the two cake pans and smooth the tops of the batter with a knife or back of a spoon.

5. Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes until you can see the cakes pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let your cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then run a knife around the edge and invert the cakes onto a wire rack.

6. Once your cakes are cooled, top them with your favorite buttercream (recipe coming soon), ganache (ditto), icing or jam! Enjoy!