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First Layer Cake
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3 from 2 votes

American Layer Cake (1894)

This is a very moist, dense layer cake that is perfect for all occasions.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 331kcal
Author: Stefani


Custard Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn flour
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup + 4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavoring of your choice

Cake Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavoring of your choice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • dried or candied fruit raisins, currants, lemon or orange peel, etc., optional, for decoration


Custard Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, corn flour, and 4 tablespoons of milk. Stir until thoroughly combined, then set aside.
  • Whisk eggs together in another small bowl. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla extract (or flavoring of your choice).
  • Whisk continually until the mixture scalds (indicated by the formation of bubbles around the edge of the pan), but before it boils.
  • Remove pan from heat and slowly add 2 tablespoons of the heated mixture to the eggs, whisking quickly and constantly until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pan in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
  • Return pan to medium heat and pour in the previously prepared butter mixture.
  • Continue to whisk the custard until it thickens.
  • Once the custard has reached the desired consistency, remove pan from the heat and place it in the fridge to continue thickening. Custard is ready for use once it is completely cool.

Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F and grease one 8” round cake pan. (If you prefer not to split the cake later on, you can use two shallow, 8” round pans.)
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Add the egg and beat until thoroughly combined.
  • Mix in vanilla extract (or your flavoring of choice).
  • In another bowl, sift together the flour and the cream of tartar.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the batter, beating until incorporated.
  • Dissolve baking soda in warm milk.
  • Stir the milk mixture into the batter to form a thick, spreadable paste.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared cake tin(s), spreading and smoothing it with a spatula until its surface is roughly level.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (15 minutes if using two cake pans), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove cake from oven and let stand until the bottom of the pan has cooled to room temperature. Turn cake out onto a wire rack.
  • If you baked a single cake, split the cake using a cake leveler (or a kitchen knife).
  • Spread bottom half of cake with a generous amount of prepared custard (see recipe below).
  • Place second layer of cake atop bottom layer. Spread the top of the cake with custard. (I spread custard along the sides for a more modern look, but the recipe only calls for icing between layers and atop the cake.)
  • Decorate cake with dried or candied fruits as desired.


Calories: 331kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 177mg | Potassium: 138mg | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 735IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 1mg