Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position a rack in the center of the oven.
Spray the bottom and sides of two 8 inch pans with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside. Place an 8 inch spring form pan over a large rimmed platter and also set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Separate the yolks from the whites. Set the whites aside momentarily in a small bowl.
To a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can use a hand mixer), beat the egg yolks with ¾ cup of sugar on medium/high speed until the yolks are thick, creamy, and pale – About 2 minutes or so. Lower the speed to medium. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined, about 1 more minute. Transfer the egg yolk mixture to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Clean and dry the whisk attachment and mixer bowl. Add the egg whites to the bowl and whisk the egg whites, over medium/high speed until it forms soft peaks, about 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed to high and add the ¼ cup of sugar in a stream. Whisk on high until the egg whites form firm peaks, about 1-2 more minutes.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the egg yolks and fold with a rubber spatula until combined. Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites until no white streaks remain. Alternate between the flour mixture and the egg whites in two more batches until incorporated. Make sure no flour or egg white streaks remain, but don’t overbeat the mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bang the pans on the counter a couple of times to even out the batter. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
Remove pans from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 7 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack, remove the parchment paper, and allow to cool completely. Once the cakes are cooled, poke holes on the entire surface of the cakes with the tines of a fork. Don’t be shy about poking. Just when you think you can’t poke anymore holes, poke a few more. While the cakes cool, prepare the soaking liquid.