1-2-3-4 Sheet Cake

Recipes in this PostSpane in 5th Grade

The picture is of Spane, in the 5th grade. The recipe is for the cake I made for him for his 5th birthday, so I think it’s an appropriate picture. The original cake had a Barney on it, because Barney was Spane’s favorite character. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to put that picture up here. I’m done with Barney and so is Spane.

This cake, however, will never, ever get old. It’s a very simple cake to make, and my goto white cake. It’s a recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking, which in turn is an adaptation of the original 1-2-3-4 cake, so named because it uses 1 cup each of milk and butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs. If you were illiterate as many pioneering and colonial American women once were, your recipes would have to be very easy because you would not be able to write them down, and you would want to be able to pass them down to your daughters. We will probably never know who actually invented this cake, but I for one, am very glad she did.

This recipe makes a lot of cake. It fits nicely into a large 15 x 10 inch sheet pan, or three nine inch round pans. It’s an excellent recipe for a crowd. As a matter of fact, I used to make two layers of this cake, and put strawberries and cream as topping and filling when I made the birthday cakes for Dean Witter in Beverly Hills. If you double this recipe, it will easily feed 50 people.

If you really want to see what the Barney looks like, I originally put this recipe on Big Oven and my original Barney decorated cake picture is there. When you see it, you’ll understand why I didn’t want it here.

Recipe: 1-2-3-4 Sheet Cake

Summary: This traditional 1-2-3-4 cake gets updated with great flavoring.


  • 8 ounces Butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1 cups Milk
  • 2 1/2 cups Cake Flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Almond Extract
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease pan and line with wax or parchment paper. Grease the wax or parchment paper as well.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream and butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg yolks one at a time.
  4. Add the extracts.
  5. Alternate adding the milk and flour one third at a time, scraping the bowl as needed.
  6. Remove the batter to a large bowl.
  7. Wash and dry the mixer bowl.
  8. Whip the egg whites until stiff.
  9. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen it. Fold in remaining egg whites carefully.
  10. If you are making round cake layers, divide batter between the prepared pans. Otherwise, pour into a 15 x 10 cake sheet pan.
  11. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on racks.
  12. Remove cake from pan and cool on serving dish.

Quick notes

A cream cheese frosting is great on this, or just whipped cream and fruit.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Copyright © The Good Plate.
Recipe by Adrienne Boswell.
Microformatting by hRecipe.

Tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 1-2-3-4 Sheet Cake

  1. Gretta says:

    Hello! I’ѵe been following your web ѕite for a long time now ɑnd finally got the bravery to
    go ahead and give you а shout out frpm Kіngwοod Texаs!
    Just wanted to tell yoս keep up the great work!

  2. Penny says:

    Thanks, I’ve been looking for that recipe for a while. It’s old, and not everyone has a good one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *