1-2-3-4 Pound Cake (Our Most Requested Recipe)
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.

  • 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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