Birthday Cakes – Including Best Basic Butter Cake Recipe – 1,2,3,4 Cake

  • Posted on March 18, 2010 at 1:57 PM

The Sensible Sisters love to bake.  They love to bake cakes.  As with most things, they have their individual preferences.

Rowena prefers to use a White Wings Madiera Cake Mix when making cup cakes or birthday cake. Both the cakes used packet mixes.

Julia prefers to use a homemade butter cake. The recipe is one that was given to her by the Sisters’ mother. Originally known as 1,2,3,4 Cake, it is a really easy recipe that makes a great cake.

The Sensible Sisters really like recipes that measure in cups as opposed to specifying weights for ingredients like flour and sugar. Purists will argue that weighing is more accurate but the Sensible Sisters have always had great success with our “cups” recipes. The Sisters both own kitchen scales that are rarely used.

Julia has a preferred Pyrex cup (from the op shop) that she uses for baking. Rowena takes a more casual approach to her cups and just uses whichever cup is handy.

Both methods have so far yielded similar results.

Both sisters agree that butter is best for most cake baking. Do not waste time with margarine or olive or any other oil as a substitute for butter whether for economy or health.

Fat is fat and butter tastes better!

The Sensible Sisters have a reputation to uphold as being excellent bakers and cups so far have been fine for them…

1,2,3,4 Cake


1 cup butter (250 gm block)

1 1/2 cup sugar (original recipe says 2 cups sugar but it is too much – might have been ok in the 1960′s but not in the noughties or teenies)

3 cups self raising flour

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, then flour and milk and vanilla.

Bake at 180  deg. C – time really does depend on cake tin used.

Makes 1 large slab cake (good for a large birthday cake) or 2 smaller cakes – also good for lamingtons and cupcakes.


Add 1/2 cup cocoa for chocolate cake.

Divide mixture into 3 and colour one portion pink and one portion with 2 Tablespoons cocoa and one plain for marble cake.

Add zest of one orange and use orange juice for liquid with 1/4 cup powdered milk, and 1 cup coconut for orange and coconut cake.  Ice with orange icing.

Rowena: ” My novelty cake making is a recent thing. I have started with the numbers  as per the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Cookbook from the 1980′s. I find these easy to construct and you can easily adapt the theme for a boy or girl by using different lollies and icing. Some tips I can offer may seem basic but I have learnt something new each time I make a cake. For example when I made the number “5″ cake there were quite a few people at the party and I really could have made a basic bar tin cake decorated in the same way with the same lollies. There was only one small piece left for the birthday boy to take home. This cake was a real hit! Transportation of a birthday cake can also be tricky finding a tray large enough and ensuring the cake gets to the party destination in one piece. Usually one person will drive and the passenger will nurse the cake on their knees to make sure there are no cake disasters.”

Photos are generally taken when the birthday boy or girl is blowing out the candles.  The Sensible Sisters also recommend taking a photo of your completed cake prior to any guests arriving as sometimes in the excitement of the cake cutting the photo opportunity may be missed.  Julia made an awesome Teddy Bear cake last year for Miss 5′s Teddy Bear’s Picnic Party and there is no photo of the finished cake.

PS: Happy Birthday to Rowena today! 18 March…

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10 Comments on Birthday Cakes – Including Best Basic Butter Cake Recipe – 1,2,3,4 Cake

  1. Think you’ll find 1,2,3,4 was also a reference to the original quantities. Sure you knew that, just superfluous info above maybe. Another supremely good thing about cooking with cups is that it is alot easier for toddlers to begin grappling with recipes and quantities than reading scales. I’m a big fan of involving your youngin’s where possible. You can see my blog on that one – Cooking with Kids …its about so much more than food

  2. [...] few minor adjustments. I am not sure if I will stick with my cake mix style of cooking or use the 1,2,3,4 Cake (see our birthday cake post for [...]

  3. [...] Sensible Sisters will use 1,2,3,4 Cake.  Below is a photo of the 2 items that will become the cobbled together pan.  Stay tuned for [...]

  4. [...] Sensible Sisters will use 1,2,3,4 Cake.  Below is a photo of the 2 items that will become the cobbled together pan.  Stay tuned for [...]

  5. Thanks for sharing with us this wonderful recipe. Butter cake has been my ultimate favorite flavor of cake and I usually make this for special events in our family. I would surely give your recipe a try. This cake goes really well with a hot cup of coffee, and even my friend who review coffee for a living loved it! Thanks!

  6. Eve Reid says:

    Cake recipes are the specialty of my best friend, my favorite ones are those exotic fruit cakes`:-

  7. [...] 1234 Cake must be made with butter, the following chocolate cake is very good made with sunflower oil, [...]

  8. This is an awesome recipe! Thank you so much for sharing this with us as I am really in need of a butter cake recipe that is easy to do. I would surely give this one out a try. It would definitely go well with a hot cup of coffee made from my espresso coffee machine at home. Kudos!

  9. Poppy Scott says:

    i love to eat cakes and bake them too that is why i am always on the lookout for cake recipes*“

  10. [...] similar quantities to 1,2,3,4 Cake, this is a fabulous basic biscuit recipe. Just in time to think about making some biscuits to [...]

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