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1-2-3-4 Layer Cake (“Back of the Box Cake”)

Prep Time:

25 mins.

Cook Time:

25 mins.


1 Layer Cake

This classic layer cake is light, airy and so popular we put the recipe on the back of Swans Down Cake Flour boxes. Frost and decorate it to taste – it’s the cake for any occasion. Depending on how you wish customize this recipe, it can be baked in 3 (9-inch) round pans or 1 (9×13-inch) cake pan.


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups Swans Down® Cake Flour, sifted before measuring
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk, whole or low fat
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter and lightly flour 3 (9-inch) layer pans.
  3. Sift flour and then lightly spoon 3 cups of the flour into a large measuring cup. Then sift the already-sifted cake flour with the baking powder and salt into a bowl; set aside.
  4. Cream butter in a large bowl. Gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and extracts, blending after each addition until smooth. (Do not over beat as this will yield a dry cake.)
  5. Pour into prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tester inserted into cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on racks.
  8. Frost and decorate as desired.
    Kitchen Tips:

Depending on how this cake is to be customized, it can be baked in 3 (9-inch) round layer pans or 1 (9×13-inch) rectangular pan.

To make the cake chocolate: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the dry ingredients OR 3 ounces melted baking chocolate, cooled and added when the eggs are added.

To make the cake strawberry: Add a 3-ounce box of strawberry Jell-O to the dry ingredients AND 1 cup mashed strawberries with the eggs.