Vanilla Cake ~ 1-2-3-4 Cake ~ Birthday Cake

Bake-a-thon, Vanilla Cake, 1-2-3-4 Cake, Birthday Cake, Cake,

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Bake-a-thon, Vanilla Cake, 1-2-3-4 Cake, Birthday Cake, Cake,

Vanilla cake or 1-2-3-4 cake is an age old cake recipe that is easy to bake and very popular. This recipe is often use for special occasions cakes. Cake is soft, fluffy and light. 1-2-3-4 stands for the measure of the four main ingredients used in this vanilla cake. This is a centuries old recipes that is still popular and easy to bake.

Bake-a-thon, Vanilla Cake, 1-2-3-4 Cake, Birthday Cake, Cake,

The four ingredients in the 1-2-3-4 cake are 1 cups butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs. Butter and sugar are beaten until soft, followed by eggs and then flour is folded in. The cake is then baked in a moderate oven.

I made 1-2-3-4 cake or vanilla twice this year. The first time I made this cake was for a bloggers meet where Rajani showed us how to make a chocolate lace for the cake. I volunteered to bake mini cakes for all of us to play with the lace.

Bake-a-thon, Vanilla Cake, 1-2-3-4 Cake, Birthday Cake, Cake,

I made the same cake again this past summer for my husband’s birthday. I wanted a fun cake. He is a Wall street guy and loves what he does for living. Hence, the theme is financial markets. I baked this vanilla cake, frosted it with confectioners frosting or buttercream frosting and decorated it with fondant labels to illustrate his passion for markets. His birthday was on a weekday and ended up cutting the cake late in the night, after we got home from dinner. Next day I forgot to take a picture of the sliced cake. Here is a slice from my mobile.

Source: Joy of Baking
Size: 2 (6”) cakes (two cakes stacked to yield one cake)
Serves: 4 – 6

Vanilla Cake ~ 1-2-3-4 Cake

  • 1 ½ cups (172.5 grams) sifted All Purpose Flour
  • ½ tbsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup (113 grams or 1 stick) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
  • ⅚ (½ + ⅓) cups (175 grams) granulated Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup (120 ml) Milk at room temperature
  • 2 (6”) Cake Pans


  • Place the rack of the oven in the middle. Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C.
  • Butter or spray non-stick vegetable spray in two 6″ cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment or wax paper.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer (I used hand held electric mixer), beat butter until soft and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
  • Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and fold in the flour alternating with milk. That is, add flour in three additions, alternating with milk (add flour, milk, flour, milk and flour) to fold in the flour.
  • Divide the batter into two equal parts pour into prepared pans. Smooth the tops with back of a spoon or a spatula and lightly tap the pans on the countertop to remove any air in the batter.
  • Bake in a preheated pan for 27 to 35 minutes or a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake spring backs when pressed lightly in center. My cakes were done in 32-33 minutes.
  • Place the cake pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes, invert the cakes and remove the parchment and re-invert the cakes. Cool completely before frosting.
  • If you are not frosting the cake right away, after removing the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake, wrap it in a saran or cling wrap. Place it back in the cake pan and keep it on the countertop until ready to frost. If frosting the cake the next day, the cake can be put in the refrigerator. However, I have not done it.


  • I made ½ the original recipe as I wanted a small cake and the ingredients listed above are ½ of the original recipe. If you want a bigger cake, double the above recipe and use two 9″ cake pans. You can use one cake pan but will have to cut the cake into two, to two make two layers. I prefer baking in two separate pans than bake one whole cake in a pan and later cut into two layers.

Confectioners Frosting

  • 2 cups (230 grams) Confectioners Sugar (icing powder)
  • ½ cup (113 grams) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1-2 tbsp. Milk or Light Cream (I used milk)
  • Assorted Colors (I used blue for piping the base)


  • Take butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
  • Beat in vanilla extract.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low, gradually beat in confectioners sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  • Add milk and beat to combine.
  • Increase the speed to high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  • If the frosting is thick, add more milk or more confectioners sugar if frosting is thin. Adjust milk and confectioners sugar to get the right consistency.
  • If using color frosting, add color. I used gel color.
  • Take some frosting in a bag and add some blue color or color of your choice.

Fondant Cutouts
What you need:

  • Colored Fondant
  • Round and square fondant or cookie Cutters
  • Edible Markers
  • Round Card Board

All the above mentioned items are available in any cake supplies store and at Michaels.

How I made them:

  • Take fondant and roll it on a board or cutting board using a rolling pin. Or follow the instructions on back of the fondant package. Cut the fondant to desired shapes. I cut circles/rounds into two sizes; yellow fondant into bigger circles/rounds for gold and multi colored rounds in assorted colors for currency and oil lables.
  • I used a square cutter to cut a rectangular banner for markets.
  • Using an edible marker, I wrote gold on yellow round cut outs, dollar, pound, yen and euro signs on smaller round fondant circles. On rectangular banner, I wrote markets and drew some mountain peaks to indicate financial markets.
  • I shaped few small round cut outs to pear shape for oil.

Assembling the Cake

  • Scrape or slightly cute the top of the cakes to smooth/even the surfaces.
  • Sprinkle orange juice/apple juice or sugar syrup on both the cakes.
  • Take two pieces of wax papers and place on a cake stand such that the edges of the paper overlap in the middle.
  • Place one cake on a board, bottom side down and place that the board in middle of the cake stand. When frosting the cake, the mess will be on the wax paper and once the cake is decorated, we can just pull off the wax paper.
  • Spread some frosting on the top of the cake.
  • Place the other cake on top of the frosting such that bottom of the second cake is on top.
  • Cover the cake with frosting and also spread it all around the cake.
  • Place the fondant cut outs on the cake, as per your choice.
  • Place blue color frosting in a piping bag pipe and using a star tip, pipe around the bottom of the cake. Using a narrow round tip, write the message on the cake.
  • Refrigerate the cake until ready to cut.

This day in 2014: Brown Sugar Spice Cake

This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2016

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11 thoughts on “Vanilla Cake ~ 1-2-3-4 Cake ~ Birthday Cake

    1. Valli, wish I had taken a picture of the sliced cake. Since that was a weekday, cut the cake late in the evening and forgot to take the picture of the slice next day. This is one of my go to cake recipes now and next time I bake the cake again, shall update the blog with a slice of the cake. Let me check if I have any mobile pictures on my phone. Will share that instead.

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