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1-2-3-4 Lemon Cake

The name of this old-fashioned cake comes from the simple formula used for measuring the main ingredients: one cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour, and four eggs.

  • yield: Makes one 8-inch round layer cake

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 cups Lemon Curd
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream
  • 12 ounces assorted fresh berries
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in center of oven. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Dust bottoms and sides of pans with flour; tap out any excess.

  2. Step 2

    In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  3. Step 3

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating on medium speed until lightened, 3 to 4 minutes; scrape down sides once or twice. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating after each addition until batter is no longer slick, about 5 minutes; stop once or twice to scrape down sides.

  4. Step 4

    On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, a little of each at a time, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in vanilla and lemon zest.

  5. Step 5

    Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes, then rotate the pans in the oven for even browning. Continue baking until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 10 to 20 minutes more. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool, 15 minutes. Turn out cakes; set on racks, tops up, until completely cool.

  6. Step 6

    Remove the parchment from bottom of each cake. Using a serrated knife, slice each layer in half horizontally. Set aside the prettiest domed layer for the top of cake. Place another domed layer, dome-side down, on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup lemon curd over surface to within 1/2 inch from edges. Place second cake layer over the first, and spread another 1 cup curd over top. Repeat with third cake layer and remaining cup curd. Transfer partially assembled cake to the refrigerator.

  7. Step 7

    Just before serving, place reserved dome on top of cake. Spoon sweetened whipped cream over the top. Sprinkle with mixed berries, and dust with confectioners' sugar through a fine sieve.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, May 1997

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Reviews (21)

  • loganluke114 13 Jan, 2013

    I love this cake. I love the homey flavor and texture. It's everything that a store bought mix isn't and everything a home made cake should be!

    For more information about lemon cake recipe.

    Visit: http://lemon-benefits.com/Articles/Benefits-of-Lemon-Water.html

  • bakingymnast 9 Apr, 2012

    I found this cake to taste moist, yet spongy. Plus it needed more lemon flavor. I would suggest using the zest of 3 lemons to boost the flavor.

  • VanessasKitchen 7 Aug, 2011

    DELICIOUS! I made this for my Mother's birthday party-as she enjoys lemon-and it was spectacular and looks quite impressive. The one change I made was along with the lemon curd, I layered a vanilla scented buttercream between the layers of cake.

  • Manchester1973 6 Aug, 2011

    This cake is easy to make and taste fabulous. You must make this one. Your friends and family will certainly enjoy it.

  • Madhi 3 Jan, 2011

    @LylithStarchild, sorry I havent seen this for so long. I will keep that in mind, thanks :)

  • LylithStarchild 23 Jun, 2010

    @Madhi Make sure you chill the lemon curd first. It will not be runny if chilled.

  • Madhi 19 May, 2010

    okay half of the batter is perfectly enough for two 6' cakes. I doubled the lemon cur recipe just in case but its very runny..what do I do?

  • Madhi 17 May, 2010

    I'm cutting this recipe in half and making two 6' cakes (4 small layers)..does anyone know that the batter and 1.5 cups of curd will be enough?

  • janice-anne 12 Apr, 2009

    oh oh! Making this cake now -- currently in 2 8-inch pans in oven -- batter is overflowing pans and tops are really browning! What did I do wrong???

  • Exysay 2 Mar, 2009

    I made this for a dessert competition because it was so beautiful and it also tasted great. I would definitely recommend it.

  • shellyshuey 25 Oct, 2008

    Made it for my husband, who loves traditional lemon cake. This was definitely a new family favorite. You could also make a boxed yellow cake and just do the lemon curd from scratch if you were in a hurry. Loved it.

  • tia505 13 Oct, 2008

    I made it for a birthday part yesterday, everyone loved it. I was nervous about there not being enough filling but it was a perfect amount with the sweet cake. Please pay attention and double the ingredients for the lemon curd b/c it requires 3 cups and the recipe yields 1.5 cups. Instead of making the whipped cream I dusted it with powdered sugar.

  • amykae 26 May, 2008

    I made this for a little spring birthday party- it was so beautiful and tasty! However, the recipe for this cake in the Desserts cookbook has a different lemon curd recipe that uses 12 eggs- it makes the correct quantity. Also, I had way too much batter for two cake pans- probably enough for three. This is definitely a keeper.

  • MollyBlacke 20 Apr, 2008

    This is not your mistake, Cynthia! I made this recipe too, and the lemon curd recipe DEFINITELY needs to be doubled to yield anywhere near enough filling for a 4-layer cake. But otherwise, the recipe is good...very tasty, lots of fresh lemon flavor, lovely textures. I made a stabilized whipped cream, which held the fruit nicely. There are instructions for this in the Joy of Cooking.

  • cynthiapetersonslcut 19 Apr, 2008

    The cake recipe calls for 3 cups lemon curd, the lemon curd recipe only makes 1 1/2 cups of lemon curd. Hard to say if this is the mistake of the reader or the writer !

  • cakelady1234 31 Mar, 2008

    This cake had a lovely texture and was very tasty - however, I ended up with too much batter to comfortably fill the suggested 8 x 2 inch pans, without overfilling.
    Also - I did not make the lemon curd recipe, but used store bought instead. The curd was too thin.,so the cake sort of settled on top of itself and fell apart.
    It was comical, actually!

  • rynkun999 24 Mar, 2008

    My guests at easter loved this recipe. It was a bit heavy but definately fresh and I will definately make this again. I made it will cool whip on the top instead of regular sweet whipping cream, held the berries better and tasted amazing!

  • rynkun999 24 Mar, 2008

    My guests at easter loved this recipe. It was a bit heavy but definately fresh and I will definately make this again. I made it will cool whip on the top instead of regular sweet whipping cream, held the berries better and tasted amazing!

  • johnsonval 23 Mar, 2008

    This was great and everyone loved it! I think I have a new staple cake recipe that I will keep for ever. I doubled the lemon curd and it was just barely enough. Thanks CMartinRubio for the suggestion!

  • ginarae 27 Jan, 2008

    I love this cake. I love the homey flavor and texture. It's everything that a store bought mix isn't and everything a home made cake should be!

  • ChelitoMR 4 Nov, 2007

    I'd suggest making more than double the lemon curd recipe. I found it didn't make quite enough. The leftovers I had after tripling the recipe were wonderful the next morning.