1. Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; add to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at medium-low speed just until blended after each addition. (Batter will be thick.) Use immediately.
Ultimate Vanilla Cake Batter: Substitute 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste for vanilla extract. Proceed with recipe as directed.
Chocolate Cake Batter: Reduce cake flour to 2 cups. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 1. Whisk 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa into flour mixture in Step 2; proceed with recipe as directed. Beat 1/3 cup hot water into batter just until smooth.
Add an additional 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract if you do not have almond extract.