a sliced 1-2-3-4 pound cake on a serving plate
1-2-3-4 Pound Cake (Our Most Requested Recipe)
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This is it, our famous 1-2-3-4 Pound Cake, the most often-requested recipe in Swans Down history. Not to be confused with our 1-2-3-4 Layer Cake recipe on the back of the Swans Down Cake Flour box, this is pure, buttery pound cake in every bite. Sift confectioner's sugar on the top or serve it your own way; one Swans Down fan slices it horizontally in half and adds in a layer of whipped cream and sliced bananas.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (or margarine)
  • 3 cups Swans Down® Cake Flour
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk (whole or low fat)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Makes 2 loaves or 1 round (tube pan) cake.PREHEAT oven to 325º.

BUTTER and lightly flour two 9-inch loaf pans (or you can use one 10-inch tube pan).

SIFT Swans Down Cake Flour, then lightly spoon into measuring cup for 3 cups.

CREAM butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.

SIFT the sifted cake flour with baking powder and salt. Add eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, blending after each addition.

ADD flour mixture alternately with milk and extracts, blending after each addition until smooth. (Do not over mix as this will yield a dry cake.)

POUR into prepared pan(s).

BAKE at 325º for approx. 1 hour and 15-25 minutes. (If using loaf pans, test at 1 hour and 15 minutes and see if the cake tester comes out clean. For tube pan, you might need the full 25 minutes.)

COOL in pan(s) 15 minutes on wire rack. Remove from pan(s) and finish cooling on rack.

  • Carmen says:

    I made this cake and sifted the flour with the baking soda and salt do I onlyuse the 3c of sifted flour or do I use it all

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Carmen, You should sift just the flour first and measure out 3 cups of the sifted flour. Then sift the already-sifted flour again with the baking powder and salt. Happy baking

  • Linda Austin says:

    Excited to get the recipes

  • Maxine Gill says:

    I made the 1-2-3-4 pound cake for the first time and it came out perfect. I replaced the almond extract with 1 tsp of lemon extract. The cake was moist. After it cooled, I ate 2 slices with a cup of tea. Thank you!

  • Debbie Drovie says:

    I’ve tried making the whipping cream pound cake recipe on the Swans box twice. Both attempts ended badly. I think the recipe is missing an ingredient or two like baking powder or baking soda. Which can I add for better results?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Debbie, We’re sorry to hear that you are not have great results with the Whipping Cream Pound Cake. It’s certainly a Swans Down favorite. We’ve forwarded your information on to our Consumer Affairs Department. Someone will be reaching out to help. Happy baking!

  • Melba D Lee says:

    Respite for swans down pound cake

  • Jackie Williams says:

    I already did this and sent a comment where is the recipe

  • Jackie says:

    I will make this tonight for my aunt who has been requesting it. Very very good

  • Mary says:

    I’m just wondering if any adjustments are needed for ingredients of both of your 1-2-3-4 cake recipes, due to high altitude.
    I live in the Mile High city, Denver CO. My grandmother from Kentucky always used your flour for her cakes, which she sold during the Great Depression to help pay the bills.

    • Swans Down says:

      HI Mary, Thanks for sharing your story. We’re happy to hear that you continue the tradition of using Swans Down Cake Flour! You can find general guideline for Baking At High Altitudes in out Tips section https://swansdown.com/tips/. Happy baking!

  • Mary P Schulte says:

    I made a Pound Cake Recipe that you could ONLY use Swans Down Cake Flour for the recipe, which I always used when baking the recipe. Unfortunately, I lost the recipe that I have baked since the ’60’s, I am in the process of preparing Old Recipes for my children and of course that was one of their favorites. The recipe I used was not known as the 1-2-3-4 recipe, just Pound Cake. Can you tell me if your 1-2-3-4 recipe would have been the one I used at that time? I always baked the cake in a tube pan. Thanks Mar…

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Mary, Sorry to hear that you have misplaced your treasured recipe, and it’s wonderful that you’re putting together your recipe collection to pass on to your children. With the many pound cake recipes in our archives it’s hard to determine which recipe you may be looking for. Your information was forward to our Consumer Affairs department. Someone will be reaching out to see if they can help. Happy baking!

  • Zolah says:

    Hi there. Wondering if this 1*2*3*4 pound cake recipe can be halved? I’m solo and only need one loaf, lol. Thank you!

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Zolah, This recipe can easily be halved. Or you can bake 2 loaves then slice and individually wrap the slices to freeze. Happy baking!

  • marian murray wells says:

    this 1234 cake is great my aunt and use to bake hen she was alive (miss her so) my uncle like a huge slice on to of his plate of food topping it off. he said it was greattttt memories

  • Carrie Swinton says:

    Can I use flour

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Carrie, You can use All-Purpose Flour for this recipe. To convert a recipe from cake flour to all-purpose flour you would remove 2 tablespoons of flour from each cup of all-purpose flour. Happy baking!

  • Yvette says:

    My 1234 pound cake came out after two hours 325 degrees. I was heavy and dense. I don’t know what I did wrong. I have ppl waiting for a pound cake.

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Yvette, We are so sorry to hear of the outcome of your 1234 Pound Cake. Typically a heavy and dense cake is a result of overmixing. Prolonged mixing may cause loss of air or leavening gas and make cakes more compact and heavy with tunnels. You should mix only enough to incorporate the ingredients. For more information visit our Baking Tips page. Happy baking!

  • Diamond says:

    I have baked the cake according to the recipe on back of box and put mixture in a tube pan bothe times the cake sunk n middle n croton the sides but had a good taste. What am I doing wrong help!!!!!

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Diamond, You information was forwarded to Consumer Affairs Department. Someone will be reaching out to help. Happy baking!

  • Anyee says:

    Would I have to change the recipe if I wanted to make it a cream cheese pound cake

    • Swans Down says:

      Yes Anyee, To use cream cheese in the 1234 Pound Cake the recipe would have to adjusted. Unfortunately we have not tested the recipe prepared with cream cheese. BUT, the Swans Down’s Lemon Pound Cake is formulated to use cream cheese. And is equally as delicious. You can simply omit the Lemon Rind if you prefer and increase the vanilla to 1 teaspoon. Happy baking!

  • Mary Rose says:

    Can I omit the Almond extract in this cake?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Mary, Yes you can omit the Almond extract from the 1234 Pound Cake. You may want to replace it with additional Vanilla for more flavor. Happy baking!

  • JackieSpears says:

    Hey what about a recipe for a all lushouis lemon2-3 layer cake.do you have it and would you share it. Thank you much.

  • jimmy jones says:

    If I cut the recipe in half using a bundt pan, do I bake the cake for less time?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Jimmy, You may need to reduce the bake time if you halved the recipe. We’d suggest to test at 1 hour and see if the cake tester comes out clean. We’d love to know the results. Happy baking!

  • Monique says:

    I made this cake for the teachers as a small token of appreciation for their hard work and dedication at the pre-k program. They loved it!! I’m going to make this my go-to cake recipe in the future. Amazing recipe

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Monique, Thanks for the great compliment! This recipe is definitely a fan favorite. Happy baking!

  • Geraldine Johnson says:

    I’m following the recipe but my pound cakes always come out undercooked in the middle what I’m I doing wrong

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Geraldine, In a lot of cases a dense center on a pound cake is caused my overmixing. Also a tube pan may require a longer bake time. Hope this is helpful. Happy baking!

  • Virginia Veal says:

    Can I add chocolate chips if so how much?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Virginia, Yes you can add chocolate chips to the 1 2 3 4 Pound Cake. We recommend using approximately 1 cup and lightly toss them in flour before gently folding them in. This will help keep to them suspended in the batter during baking. Happy baking!

  • Michael Caprio says:

    Could you provide measurements of the recipe by weight? Grams and ounces?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Michaels, That is a goal we are working towards. Just not quite there yet. Happy baking!

  • Carmen Morales Pinto says:

    Desde muy niña, utilizaba esta harina, particularmente la caja verde. Me gustaría saber si aún la venden? Desde Puerto Rico ??.❤️

    • Swans Down says:

      Carmen revisa tu correo nuestro departamento de atención al cliente te puede ayudar. ¡Feliz horneado!

  • Mama Donya says:

    The family has adored Auntie Evy’s pound cake and so disappointed when she passed and did not leave her recipes. Only found out recently from her son, the secret we thought she took was Swans Down flour and the recipe on the box. WOW! We had the secret all along!

  • Debby Lovelady says:

    I’ve been baking cakes for a long time, my mother always used Swans cake flour and it is the best. I want to bake this 1-2-3-4 cake, just want to know if it is moist? is it light and not dense….

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Debby, The 1-2-3-4 Pound Cake is Swans Down #1 most requested recipe. It is moist and not consider a dense cake. Happy baking!

  • Storm says:

    I made this cake tonight, for my mom to cheer her up. When she was a little girl she learned to bake, making the 1-2-3-4 cake as a layer cake. I wasn’t feeling so great tonight, myself so I made the pound cake. She was sooo happy.

    I had so much fun making it too, putting on my favorite podcast. Baking for me is a way to relax, after a long day or a hard day and your recipes are top notch, easy to follow. The cake formed this delicious caramelized crust on the top and it was so rich but also so light and delightful. Absolutely wonderful!

  • Ashi says:

    My mom has fond memories of making this cake with her sister when they were children. It was my honor and joy to bring that memory back when I wanted to bake the other day and followed the recipe on the box. It’s perfection.

  • Helen Jackson Villarta says:

    What happened to the previous recipe on the box.

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Helen, Which recipe are you referring to? The same 3 recipes 1 2 3 4 Layer Cake, Simple Chocolate Cake and Whipping Cream Pound Cake have been on the back of the box for many years. These recipes haven’t changed. If there is a recipe in particular you are looking for you can contact our Consumer Relations Department at 1-800-535-1961. Happy baking!

  • Tami says:

    How much cocoa powder should I add to the pound cake recipe

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Tami, To make a Chocolate 1 2 3 4 Pound Cake you would add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the dry ingredients OR 3 ounces melted baking chocolate, cooled and added when the eggs are added. Come back and let us know how it turned out. Happy baking!

  • Diane says:

    can you put 3 sticks of butter with salt? Also 6 eggs instead of 4? Would that make the cake off, or can that work?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Diane, A note from the Swans Down Kitchen on your inquiry;

      Please understand that we have not tested the recipe using this ingredient listing…
      You can use salted butter, but omit the salt from the recipe.
      The additional eggs may okay, but perhaps she could just use 2 additional yolks?
      Perhaps she could try it and get back to us. We would love to know the results and her reasoning for making these changes.

      Happy baking!

  • Alberta Travis says:

    do you necessarily have to use almond extract? If not what can I add?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Alberta, You do not have to use almond extract. You can substitute it with additional vanilla, or maybe butter extract. Any flavor you prefer. Happy baking!

  • Sandra says:

    Can I use buttermilk instead of whole milk

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Sandra, Yes, you can use buttermilk in place of whole milk in the 1 2 3 4 pound cake recipe. Let us know how delicious it is. Happy baking!

  • Beverly H. Griffin says:

    Hello My Dear Aunt always used Swans Cake Flour. She would make several cakes at Christmas time. Even after her stroke. My sons helped. She would make what she called her three d cake or Christmas cake. She would leave one plain, one was red and the other green. She passed years ago and I always wanted to do the cake. She also made the chocolate icing with Hershey’s cocoa. I had been trying to find the recipe. I had all her recipes but unfortunately I have lost them. Then I remembered that she always used Swans cake flour so I decided to look on the back and there it was!! But for some reason I cannot get the cake as high as she did. Also she used double yoked eggs. But it brought back so many memories. I have also started making tea cheese biscuits and cheese straws. It makes me appreciate what she done every year for the family. Thank you for providing us with the best cake flour. I also get emails and I appreciate them very much.

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Beverly, Thank you for sharing your lovely story. We love hearing the family traditions and all the wonderful memories. Thank you for being a loyal Swans Down user. Happy baking!

  • Kathy Green says:

    This cake can be made, wrapped w/wax paper then tinfoil and frozen. When you take it out, it tastes like ice cream. Also, the best icing for this cake is made with confectioners’ sugar, butter and water (food coloring if desired).

  • Cleatiss White says:

    My wife had this box of cake flour in our pantry. It only had three cups of flour in the bag; which that what the recipe called for 1-2-3-4 is an awesome cake.

  • Beth Mavis says:

    I followed the directions meticulously. ( I usually shortcut when I can.) It turned out perfectly! Perfectly flat across the top, too. It made three 9″ pans for a lovely cake. Thank you!!!

  • Debbie says:

    I am the great-granddaughter of Millie Igleheart Shutt. The Igleheart’s invented Swan Down Cake Flour. The brothers sold Swan Down to General Mills in 1926. I have the original cake pans, measuring cup and the cake spreader, and the two cookbooks from Swan Down Cake Flour.

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Debbie, Yes Swans Down Cake Flour has a grand history that began with the Igelheart brother dating back to the mid 1850’s! Those are wonderful treasures to hold. We have several that we proudly display in our office. We have the story here on our history page: https://swansdown.com/history/ Thanks for sharing your story and Happy Baking!

  • Andora Peterson says:

    The recipe for 1234 cake is the easiest recipe I do say so myself like with any wonderful golden recipe that goes back generations

  • Sharon Jenkins says:

    I just want to know can I use homemade lemon zest frosting with this cake

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Sharon, Lemon Zest Frosting should compliment the 1 2 3 4 Pound Cake nicely. Let us know how if you LOVE it! Happy Baking!

  • Roderick Rose says:

    I recently used your cake flour to make a pineapple glazed Pound Cake and it was a major hit at Church! I’ve been a user of your cake flour many years!

  • Kandy says:

    I never paid any attention to the box, but trying it your way and following direction to the T, if lasted not long on my kitchen table, absolutely tasty.

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Kandy, We LOVE hearing stories like this from our Swans Down Cake Flour bakers! This is a delicious pound cake AND our #1 most requested recipe. Happy Baking!

  • Deborah Polistena says:

    I made this cake as the recipe directed. It was dry and crumbly. Not sure I would use this flour again.

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Deborah,
      We are so sorry to hear that you were disappointed. 1-2-3-4 Pound Cake is our most requested recipe. It’s generations old, and a favorite for all occasions.
      Some factors that result in a dry, crumbly cake;
      -Overmixing is the number one cause of a dry cake.
      -Not sifting the flour before measuring, resulting in too much flour in the recipe.
      -Oven temperature too high or overbaking. All ovens perform differently, testing your oven for temperature accuracy and the bake good carefully towards the end of bake time is key.
      We hope you come back and try Swans Down again.
      Happy Baking!

  • Annette says:

    I made an upside peach cake using the 1234 layer cake. It was delicious!

  • MaryAnn Russo says:

    I followed the recipe exactly. Why did my cake collapse in the oven. I’ve been baking for years. This has never happened before.

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi MaryAnn, We’ve forwarded your information on to our Consumer Affairs Department. Someone will be reaching out to see if they can help. Happy Baking!

  • Mae says:

    Can u put mayonnaise in this recipe?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Mae, Word from The Kitchen is that you can replace the 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of mayonnaise. Happy Baking!

  • Kathy says:

    The back of my swans down cake flour said to do 3 tbsp of baking powder. Do you know why?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Kathy, Thank you for calling that to our attention. The back of the box has the recipe for the 1 2 3 4 Layer Cake, and should state 3 tsps of baking powder. We will notify our processing department. Happy Baking!

  • April Gonzalez says:

    My mother made this cake from memory, she found it in a 1950 recipe book. She would make it with orange juice and zest. I am 75, still make this cake, and it fills me with great memories.

  • Carolyn Young says:

    This is only layer cake my Mother made. She divided the batter in half and added Baker’s Chocolate to half. She used a sheet pan and alternated globs of yellow and chocolate, so my family could choose their favorite.

  • Sandra says:

    Can the 1-2-3-4 pound cake recipe be halved without changing the quality of the cake?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Sandra, Yes you can definitely half this recipe without changing the delicious taste! Make sure to make accurate measurements, and adjust your bake time to align with the pan size you will be using. Happy baking!

  • Nima says:

    This is the cake of my childhood! And my mom used to call it the 4-3-2-1 cake. It’s the only one my son will eat too! Absolutely delicious in any shape or form….I’ve made cupcakes, sheet cakes, loaf cakes, round tin cakes…the options are many. You just need to tweak the time. Best cake recipe ever!

  • Stacey says:

    Hi, I used the recipe as instructed, however my cake looked ‘wet’ in the inside. Where did I go wrong?

  • Michelle says:

    Your whipping cream pound cake recipe is my go to pound cake. I love it! I always get requests to make it!

  • Gail Skipper says:

    I made the 1234 Pound Cake for the first time and it was Great. Also I am New to Baking, but watched & enjoyed My Mother baking for many years. If I can do this anyone can. It was simple and easy.

  • Mazie Lord says:

    Hands down the best pound cake recipe ever and I love your 1-2-3-4 cake recipe! So light and moist, the almond extract makes it! I sometimes substitute other flavoring extracts – lemon, coconut, orange, butter pecan – all with rave reviews! You cannot go wrong with Swans Down!

  • Mary Robinson says:

    The cake was easy to make. It did overflow out of the pan.

  • Tess says:

    I just baked 1234 pound cake and no problem. I used the tube pan. I add a little more of almond extract. The Pound Cake is soft & not dry, delicious.
    Thank you❤

  • Inez says:

    I saw a recipe to prevent dry cake: Place 2 cups water in
    oven proof container on rack next to cake. Haven’t tried that yet but I plan to today when I bake my pound cake.

  • Rebecca Adams says:

    Please specify accurate pan size! I used 2 round 8X2 inch cake pans and batter overflowed the 2 pans all over my oven and I followed this recipe to letter! Wasted expensive ingredients!

  • Luisa says:

    I want to do the 1234 cake but only I have butter with salt, then do I not put in the salt?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Luisa, that’s correct. If you’re using salted butter, don’t add in the salt that’s listed in the ingredients. Happy baking!

  • Kim Belk says:

    The picture shows a loaf cake instead of a tube pan. Do you have the time and size for the loaf size?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Kim! This cake can be made with either a 9-inch loaf pan or a 10-inch tube pan. Baking times are usually the same, but if using loaf pan, test it with a cake tester at 1 hour, 15 minutes and see if it comes clean. Thanks for bringing this up; we are going to add this tip to the recipe. 🙂

  • Lakeisha Moore says:

    how do I make the icing for 1-2-3-4 pound cake?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Lakeisha! Here’s our glaze recipe:
      2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
      1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
      2 tablespoons heavy cream
      Vanilla extract to taste (or other flavoring if desired)

      Mix sugar and butter in a medium bowl, then stir in heavy cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add more cream if necessary to make it the correct consistency, but only add 1 tablespoon at a time.

  • Glaydell says:

    Just baked the 1-2-3-4 cake today and halved the recipe since I wanted a small loaf cake. After making noticed the recipe for the full size cake on the box calls for 3 tsps baking powder vs 2 tsps online. Which should be used? Hoping it rises as it should…in the oven now! Thanks

  • Gladys Lago says:

    There is no answer to the question people ask on your webpage. Such as “CAN I MAKE CUP CAKES?” with this recipe?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Gladys! Yes indeed, you can make cupcakes using this recipe, or with any of our cake recipes. The cook time will vary, though, so you just need to test one cupcake first to get the time right, before baking them all. Happy baking! 🙂

  • Jeanne Marie Brunozzi says:

    Can I use a tube pan for the 1234 cake.!?
    Or a Bundt pan.!?
    I saw that someone used 2 loaf pans, is that a good idea.?!

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Jeanne Marie! Yes, you can use a tube pan or a bundt pan for this cake. When using a bundt pan, be sure to grease the pan well, into the cracks and indentations of the design on the pan, if any, to keep the cake from sticking there. Two loaf pans would work, but each cake would be smaller, of course. 🙂

  • Bonnie Williams says:

    I seem to remember using mace in the 1-2-3-4 Poundcake recipe I tried for the very first time. I was, maybe 16 and this was, maybe 1964…could I be right?

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Bonnie! Yes m’am, you could be right! This recipe is a classic that has been around for a while, and that might have been a variation on the theme. 🙂

  • Debbie S says:

    My second time making and I just noticed on the back of the box the recipe is different from what is shown above. My box says 3 tsp of baking powder and 1 cup of milk. The almond is a bit over powering, cake was on the dry side and it filled only two 9 inch pans not 3 like the back of the box says and the temp is 350 on box. I’m very confused which is the correct recipe? Would not make this again.

  • Tammy Snyder says:

    My grandfather entered this 1-2-3-4 cake Greene family recipe in a Swan’s Flour baking contest when he was in 9th grade and won. They liked the recipe so much they put his recipe on the box. I have many fond family picnic memories of eating this cake as “Strawberry Short Cake’ and he would also bake it in a cake pan, slice it in half and fill with bananas and real whip cream….so good!

    • Swans Down says:

      Hi Tammy, Wow, what a great bit of Swans Down history! We love the bananas and whipped cream filling idea, too. 🙂

  • Lora Renfroe says:

    I am an experienced baker 50+ years. Each time I bake the 1234 cake layers, my cake is dry. Any ideas why?

  • Veronica Peterson says:

    I make this cake all the time,but I never thought to make it in a pound cake pan.In fact I made one on yesterday but I always make it in layers. Now I’m on a mission next time a pound cake for sure.

  • Karen says:

    Just made this for the first time for my daughters first birthday. Love it! Flavor was great and it wasn’t dry at all. Chose to bake it in 2 loaf pans and am very happy with result.

  • Valerie Bachrach says:

    It is the best.. my mother made when I was a kid.. I am now 65..,
    Still make it.
    I need to know the measurements for a bundt pan.

  • Tracey says:

    How do you make the icing for the 123 chocolate cake.

  • Liz Briddle says:

    Can these be made as cupcakes

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