One Two Three Four Cake

One Two Three Four cake, a delicious, classic old fashioned cake of yesteryear.

One Two Three Four Cake recipe, aka 1 2 3 4 cake, is a popular recipe among those who prefer their cakes baked from scratch.

It is an old fashioned classic cake recipe found in most old cookbooks after it's introduction.

I saw it in an old cook book published 1891.

More historical information below.

There is a reason this cake has survived for such a long time.

It has a fine grain, velvet like texture due to the cake flour and mixing method. 

It is moist and delicious with a pronounced butter taste.

The original recipe called for 1 pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour.

I have divided the recipe in half to make only one loaf.

You can also bake this as a layer cake. 

Pan sizes are listed below.

One Two Three Four
Cake Recipe

  • 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)

  • 1 cup sugar, divided

  • 2 eggs, separated

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake or light (winter wheat) flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, butter and nut flavoring

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt twice. Set aside.

I sift my flour onto a piece of waxed paper to save washing an extra bowl.

Beat egg whites in a mixing bowl on high speed until soft peaks form; gradually add one half of the sugar and continue mixing until all sugar is incorporated and soft peaks are higher.

This takes only 2-3 minutes from start to finish.

In another mixing bowl cream butter.

Gradually add rest of sugar and cream until light and fluffy.

Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in vanilla, butter and nut flavoring and vanilla extract.

On medium speed mix in flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with flour.

Use a light hand here so you do not over beat the flour.

This is a technique that produces a light, tender cake.

Gently fold in beaten egg whites and mix on medium speed just until whites and yellow batter are thoroughly mixed.

Takes about 30 seconds.

Do Not Over Beat!

Pour batter into a 9" x 5" prepared (bottom lined with waxed or parchment paper, greased and floured) loaf pan.

Bake in a preheated oven 325F. for 40-45 minutes until lightly browned and sides are pulling away from the pan.

To test further for done, stick a toothpick into center of cake.

It should be clean when removed with no gooey cake sticking to it.

Remove from oven.

Let cake rest in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on rack to cool

This One Two Three Four Cake needs no frosting except for decorations.

Serve it hot right out of the oven or cool and frost with your favorite frosting or icing, if you prefer.

Cake Baking Tips

Double the One Two Three Four Cake Recipe to make two loafs or one tube cake.

Eat one loaf now and freeze the second one for later.

You can also double the recipe, then divide the batter and add different flavors to each of the batters.

Viola, you have two different cakes without all the extra measuring and mixing.

Also double the recipe to make a layer cake. Bake in three 8" round, two 8"square or two 9" round cake pans for 30-35 minutes.

1 2 3 4 cake

Make a scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake by covering the  individual slices with fresh or frozen, sliced or whole strawberries and top with Homemade Whipped Cream or Greek yogurt.

Substitute bananas for the strawberries, and top with yummy Hot Chocolate Sauce and the Homemade Whipped Cream for another quick desert.

The possibilities are endless with this basic, classic cake and the variations listed below.

Add your own creation, too.

This is the best yellow cake I have ever tasted.

1 2 3 4  Cake Recipe Variations


1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Almond Flavoring


1/2 teaspoon Coconut Flavoring

1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract


1/2 teaspoon Lemon Extract

1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract


1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon ground Mace

Black Walnut

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Black Walnut Flavoring

Sunshine Cake

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

History Of
One Two Three Four Cake Recipe

I have searched extensively for origin of this recipe with no conclusion.

During my search I confirmed Swans Dawn used to sell cake mixes, as I thought.

I was surprised to learn Duncan Hines published cookbooks.

One of those cook books contained the One Two Three Cake recipe.

Canadian Home Cookbook published a recipe in 1877 named 1 2 3 4 cake which actually made a cookie instead of a cake.

It is not uncommon to call certain small cakes, especially, to be called cookies or viseversa, even today.

I found this slight formula variation with a different name.

Pride Of Kentucky Cake

  • 4 eggs

  • 3 cups flour

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 cup of butter

  • 1 cup of milk

  • 2 teaspoons  of baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla

Separate eggs leaving out two whites for filling.

To beaten egg yolks, add butter and sugar creamed together, then the milk, flour, baking powder and vanilla and lastly whites of two eggs beaten stiff.

Bake in layers in a moderate oven, and put together with any kind of filling desired.

Aunt Caroline's Dixieland Recipes (cookbook)
EMMA and WILLIAM McKINNEY (1922) (Page 37)

Then this slight variation with another name.

Mountain Cake

  • 8 egg whites

  • 1  cup butter

  • 2  cups  of sugar

  • 3  cups  flour

  • 1  cup  sweet  milk

  • 1  teaspoonful  cream  of tartar

  • 1 teaspoonful  soda

Mix all the  ingredients  well, and flavor with  lemon.   

Bake  in very  shallow  pans.   

Ice  each  cake  separately  and  cover  with jelly;  then  form a large  cake,  and  ice over.—Mrs.  Dr.  S

Housekeeping  In  Old  Virginia
Contributions from two hundred and fifty ladies in Virginia and her sister States, distinguished for their skill in the culinary art. (1878 Page 307)

Return to Old Fashioned Cake Recipes


What's New

  1. Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe

    Sour Cream Cinnamon Coffee Cake
    Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe. The best cinnamon coffee cake baked in a bundt pan is irresistible with golden raisins, pecans, and cinnamon.

    Read More

  2. Chicken Alfredo Recipe

    Chicken Alfredo Recipe is Fettuccine Alfredo made with chicken and homemade noodles in a thick sauce of Parmesan and Romano cheese, cream, butter, garlic and parsley.

    Read More