Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake

Much like pound cake, the 1-2-3-4 cake gets its name from the proportions of its base ingredients: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, four eggs. It’s so straightforward, you may not even have to write it down—making it easy to impress friends and family with, oh, just a little something you whipped up.

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Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (370 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups (300 grams) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (12 grams) baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. (You can use baking spray with flour.)
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans (smoothing tops if necessary). Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.



  1. Hi! Why are there weight difference in ingredients (quite a lot for the cake flour – 300g vs 384g) between this Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake vs the Chocolate Buttercream 1-2-3-4 Basic Cake? Thanks!

    • Hey Faithy,

      Thanks for reaching out! Turns out the grams measurement was for 3 3/4 cups flour, almost a whole cup more than our original recipe. I’ve fixed the grams to match the Chocolate Buttercream 1-2-3-4 Basic Cake because they are, essentially, the same recipe. Good eye!

  2. Hi I want to use this for my daughter’s first b’day cake but would like to make it a lemon cake? Should I use lemon juice instead of the vanilla extract? Please help thank you.
    Mom in needed

    • Hey Ashley,
      Thanks for reaching out! Yes, if you want a hint of lemon to the birthday cake, you could add lemon juice or lemon extract in place of the vanilla.
      Happy Baking and Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    • Hi. I use the zest of two large lemons when inwant a lemon versiin of this cake. That way you dont change the moisture cobtent of the cake or need to adjust the cooking timw.

    • you can use the lemon juice if you want, you can also bake the cake and cut it in half through the middle and put a lemon cream filling in the middle.

      example: bake the cake, cut in diagonally through the middle, remove the top and place it to the side, place the lemon cream filling in the bottom of the cake then place the top back on and ice with a lemon icing.
      hope this was helpful.


  3. Hi
    I would like to use this recipe for my sons first birthday party but in pineapple flavor.. do I need to add juice or pineapple extract?

    • Hi Tiea,

      thank you for reaching out! Yes, you can make these into cupcakes! Just be sure to not fill the cupcakes all the way in the pan but 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the cooking time as it will vary for cupcakes. Cupcakes usually bake anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a tooth pick into the center and if it comes out clean, they should be ready. Happy baking!

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    • Hi Nati, we have a conversion for 5 cups of flour:
      1 1/3 cups butter
      2 1/2 cups sugar
      5 eggs
      4 cups cake flour
      1 1/3 Tablespoons Baking Powder
      1 1/3 cup of milk
      2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

      Happy Baking!

    • Hi Blessins- we spoke with our test kitchen and this is what they provided for you.
      for 5 cups of flour use:
      1 1/3 cups butter
      2 1/2 cups sugar
      5 eggs
      4 cups cake flour
      1 1/3 Tablespoons Baking Powder
      1 1/3 cup of milk
      2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

      Happy Baking!

    • Hi Nicki! Thank you for reaching out. yes, you can use a 11 x 13 dish- just keep an extra eye on baking time. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Happy Baking!

  5. I used one tablespoon of vanilla and one tablespoon of almond extract. Haven’t tried yet but it smells amazing!


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