1-2-3-4 Basic Cake Recipe

I Am So Excited To Share the Cake recipe for this amazing  1-2-3-4 Basic cake and Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Chef Monique Chan is in my kitchen and teaching us all how to make this amazing cake! 

1-2-3-4 Basic cake recipe

Today I am sharing the best cake recipe from scratch called 1-2-3-4 cake.  Chef Monique Chan came to my kitchen to teach all of us how to make this amazing cake! The entire experience will be on my IGTV on my Instagram here on Friday morning. You really should watch the video as Monique shares so many great tips that I would hate for you to miss!

cooking in the kitchen with monique chan

I still pinch myself every time Monique enters my kitchen. Since graduating as valedictorian of her pastry school in Paris, Monique has ceaselessly pursued excellence, working in renowned bakeries (Dominique Ansel Bakery), five-star hotels (Le Bristol Paris) and multiple Michelin starred restaurants (Epicure, The French Laundry). These achievements culminated in her role as Executive Pastry Chef of gastronomic restaurant Écriture in Hong Kong, which received two Michelin stars in a record-breaking seven months after opening. 

To find Monique’s Instagram click here and to find her blog The Real Chez Momo click here.

This is one of those cake recipes that is so simple you can memorize it. In fact, this should become one of those great desserts you make without a recipe. And with all of the ways you can adapt the recipe, it could be a staple for a lot of really great cakes.

 ingredients for cake recipe

Monique taught me that this cake is called a 1-2-3-4 cake because of the measurements of the main ingredients. They are one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour and four eggs. Just add one tablespoon of baking powder, 1 tsp of salt, a cup of milk and two tsp vanilla and you are done. How easy is that!

how to bake a cake

Monique used these wonderful 6″ cake pans that you can get on Amazon

basic cake recipe

Here is the recipe for the cake.

Yield: 8 servings

Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake Recipe - In the Kitchen with Leslie and Monique Chan

Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake Recipe - In the Kitchen with Leslie and Monique Chan

This 1-2-3-4 cake recipe is so easy to make and yet it tastes and looks fantastic.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 TBL baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use two 6" x 3" cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease sides and bottom with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar for 15 - 20 minutes until the volume is almost double in size and looks like a buttercream frosting consistency. (Use a high-speed mixer with a paddle.)
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter mixture. Mix for about ten minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla to the milk.
  6. Add the dry mixture and milk/vanilla to the butter mixture, alternating three dry to two wet. This is done by adding one-third of the dry mixture, then one half of the milk/vanilla, one-third of the dry mixture, one half of the milk/vanilla, and then one-third of the dry mixture. Stir by hand if necessary.
  7. Measure the batter in half and pour an even amount of batter in each pan. With a spatula smooth the batter to the edges until even. Tap the pans lightly on the counter to spread out the batter and release the air bubbles.
  8. Place in the oven on a rack and bake until cake temperature reaches 200 degrees, approximately 40 - 45 minutes. You can also test the cake with a wooden toothpick. If it is dry after inserted in the cake, it should be done.
  9. Let cool.
  10. Cut the bottom layer so that the top is flat. Cut both layers into two layers. You now have a four layer cake.
  11. Ice with Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting.
Here is a tip from Monique! For those who prefer a lighter cake texture, you can substitute 3 cups cake flour for the all-purpose flour. Also, separate the eggs and add the yolks where the recipe says to add the eggs. Whip the egg whites and then fold them into the final batter

The cakes looked so perfect when they came out of the oven. Monique used a thermometer to test the cake batter and you can find those here on Amazon.

cake recipe

To prepare the base layer, Monique cut off the rounded top and then sliced the cake into two layers. Notice the pieces of parchment paper that were placed under the cake to keep the cake plate clean fro the frosting.

cutting a cake

Here is the recipe for the Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting - In the Kitchen with Leslie and Monique Chan

icing a cake

This meringue buttercream frosting is light and tastes amazing!

Ingredients

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 5/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 5/8 cups - 2 cups butter (it's variable by taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside.
  2. Add 1 5/8 cup sugar to the egg whites and mix with a whisk.
  3. Cook over a double boiler until the temperature of the egg whites reach 150 degrees. (Eggs pasteurize at 140 degrees and are safe to eat raw above 140 degrees.)
  4. Whip the heated eggs and sugar in a stand mixer until the bowl is cool and the egg mixture is cool and thick (you should see stiff peaks), about 10 minutes.
  5. Add butter, vanilla, and salt and continue mixing until thoroughly combined.
  6. Frost the cake.

Monique frosted the cake and made sure to place frosting just wider than the cake edge.

how to frost a cake

She added the top cake piece by cutting it into two layers as well.

frosting on a cake

cake recipe easy

Per my request, Monique used a slightly naked style for the edges. I love it when you can see the cake through the frosting.

icing a cake

Next, Monique used her luster dust to paint fresh fruit and some eucalyptus greens. To make a “luster paint” use a capful of vodka and mix it with the luster dust. This allows you to paint it on the fruit! Why use vodka? Because it evaporates. You can find the luster dust on Amazon here.

luster dust for cakes paint edible fruit

We decided to leave some of the fruit parts unpainted. I love that look!

 gilded edible fruit

The cake was completely frosted and it was time to add the fruit.

four tier cake

Monique placed the fruit on top. If needed, you can stick some of the stems into the cake to hold the fruit securely.

Doesn’t this look amazing?

To cut the cake, gently remove the fruit pieces and cut the cake as usual. 

Basic 1-2-3-4 cake

Pin the image below to your Recipe or Dessert boards on Pinterest (just click the Pin button in the top left corner). You can also follow along with me on Pinterest!

1-2-3-4 Basic Cake Recipe

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22 Responses

  1. What should the cake’s temperature be when done? It’s always a guessing game for me to test with a toothpick for the moist crumb. I’d like an easier way to be sure, so when you said she tested with a cake thermometer, I’m all for trying that!

  2. The cake does look stunning! Leslie, how does it taste? Both cake and frosting are “seasoned” with vanilla….so does it taste like a regular yellow cake? I agree the recipe seems easy and very practical. Well done.

  3. I’ve used this recipe for years always use self rising flour and 1 tsp almond flavoring and one vanilla. Thanks for this recipe can not wait to try icing. What can you use instead of vodka in the fruit covers ?

  4. When mixing the butter with the egg and sugar mixture for the icing, is butter room temperature? Does it mix easily? Thanks I can’t wait to try it!

  5. Anything different if you wanted to use larger cake pans, 8″ or 9″? And can you use it for cupcakes? This is a beautiful cake, thank you for showing us.

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I'm Leslie,
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