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1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease bottoms of two 8x8x2-inch square or 9x1-1/2-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment or waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour bottoms and sides of pans. Or, grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder; and salt; set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3 to 4 minutes). Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes more. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla.
3. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed just until combined after each addition. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more. Spread batter into the prepared pan(s).
4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch pans and 13x9x2-inch pan, 30 to 35 minutes for 9-inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Peel off paper. Cool thoroughly on racks. Or, place 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting.
5. Makes 12 to 16 servings.