Pink flower cake


 2 ½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
 1 ⅓ cups sugar
 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 tsp baking powder
 ½ teaspoon salt
 1 cup milk
 ⅔ cup solid vegetable shortening
 2 tablespoons lemon juice
 2 teaspoons lemon zest
 2 large eggs
 Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 box (16 oz) confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons half-and-half or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pink gel food coloring
 Generous 1/2 cup assorted-colored M&M’s (makes 15 flowers)

 Step 1
Heat oven to 350°. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line pans with wax or parchment paper; coat paper with spray.

 Step 2
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1/2 cup of the milk and the shortening in a large bowl. Beat at low speed until blended, then beat on high speed 2 minutes.

 Step 3
Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk, the lemon juice, lemon zest, and eggs in a small bowl. Gradually add to batter and beat on high speed 2 minutes longer, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Divide batter between pans.

 Step 4
Bake at 350° for 33 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center tests clean. Cool cakes in pans on racks 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans to racks and remove the paper. Let cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting
 Step 5
While cake cools, with an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar, half-and-half, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Tint frosting pink with food coloring. Set aside.

 Step 6
Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread top with 1 cup of the frosting. Gently press the second cake layer on top. Spread remaining frosting on side and top of the cake. Press M&M’s into the cake to resemble flowers, alternating colors of centers and petals.