Serves 24 (or makes 24 cupcakes)
(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan(s)
unsweetened cocoa powder, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan(s)
all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
pure vanilla extract
large eggs, at room temperature
- Heat oven to 350°F. Butter the pan(s), line the bottoms with parchment, butter again, and dust with cocoa, tapping out the excess. (For cupcakes, there is no need for parchment or rebuttering.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined (do not overmix).
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (see baking times, below). Cool the cake(s) in the pan(s) for 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack(s) to cool completely.
- Baking times: For two 8-inch rounds: 30 to 35 minutes. For two 9-inch rounds: 25 to 30 minutes. For one 9-by-13-inch rectangle: 35 to 40 minutes. For 24 cupcakes: 20 to 25 minutes.