New This Month

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

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 1997


  • 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 Homemade Lemon Curd
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream
  • 12 ounces assorted fresh berries
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


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

  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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Reviews Add a comment

  • 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.