1-2-3-4 Heart-Shaped Cake with Rose Buttercream

This 1-2-3-4 Heart Shaped Cake with Rose Buttercream is a single layer, classic butter cake baked in a heart-shaped pan and frosted with an easy, rose-flavored American buttercream. Love is complicated enough. Cake doesn’t have to be.

So read on to learn all about this 1-2-3-4 cake, other baking ratios, and the detailed tips and tricks for this heart cake. Or just grab your pan, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make a heart-shaped cake for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion!

red heart shaped cake decorated with heart.
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butter, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, and other ingredients on a countertop.

Several cake recipes on my blog follow classic baking ratios. Pound cakes like the coffee walnut loaf cake or chocolate chip pound cake have equal amounts of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. And you can see the classic quick bread ratio in a blackberry lemon loaf cake or blueberry chocolate chip muffins.


In this heart-shaped cake pan recipe, the butter cake base is a version of the classic 1-2-3-4 cake formula. That formula calls for 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs. I’ve halved the formula here for this single layer heart cake.

Rose syrup is a simple syrup made with sugar and water steeped with rose petals. I recommend the Monin rose syrup for this recipe.

If you like floral flavors, you might like these lemon lavender cookies or these Earl Grey scones. Or try a creme de violette cocktail like the Water Lily.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations and substitutions

  • Don’t have a heart-shaped cake pan? Make this recipe in a 9 inch round cake pan.
  • Substitute vanilla extract for some or all of the rose syrup in the rose buttercream.

Recipe tips and tricks

Making the cake layer

There is nothing unusual about this recipe, which starts off with buttering and flouring a heart-shaped cake pan.

heart shaped cake pan that has been buttered and floured.

The classic cake uses the creaming method, where you beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (Panels #1 and #2, below). For a single layer 1-2-3-4 cake, I prefer the classic creaming method over the reverse creaming method used in my Tiramisu Layer Cake. If you double this recipe for a two-layer heart-shaped cake, the reverse creaming method will give you flatter cake layers.

four panels showing creaming butter and next steps in making cake batter.

Beat in room-temperature eggs, one at a time (Panel #3 above). Then mix in the dry ingredients and the milk and vanilla until the dry ingredients are just combined (Panel #4).

The recipe calls for mixing in half of the dry, then the wet, then the remaining dry ingredients. If you double the recipe for a two-layer heart cake, you’ll want to alternate three additions of dry with two additions of milk and vanilla.

Baking the 1-2-3-4 cake

Scrape the batter into your heart-shaped cake pan and bake. When fully baked, a toothpick inserted into the cake will come out nearly clean, the cake will be very light brown, and it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Because ovens differ, I always recommend checking baked goods about 5 minutes before the recipe says!

two panels showing an unbaked and baked heart-shaped cake in the pan.

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove it from the pan to cool completely. Do let it cool completely before frosting!

heart-shaped cake on a cooling rack.

Making the rose buttercream

American buttercream frosting is ridiculously easy because it’s just butter and sugar that you flavor and add liquid to get it to your desired consistency. Any buttercream works with this 1-2-3-4 cake, but I started dreaming about this light pink, rose buttercream since I made a French 75 with rose syrup.

To make the rose buttercream, beat room temperature butter for about a minute until soft. Then add powdered sugar and salt and beat them together for a few minutes until mixed well. Then add the cream and rose syrup. Beat for a minute and check the taste and consistency. When you’re satisfied, beat it for a little longer until it’s light and fluffy.

You can always add less sugar or less rose syrup, but you’ll need to tinker with the amount of liquid. More liquid makes a thinner rose buttercream. More sugar thickens it up.

Taste as you go. And feel free to add in a drop or two of food coloring, if you like.

two panels showing the creamed butter and the final buttercream.

To slice, cut the heart-shaped cake in half from the top to the point of the heart and then cut wedges of cake. They’ll all be slightly irregular and individual, but that’s love!

a wedge of cake decorated with pink candy hearts on a plate.

Recipe FAQs

Should I weigh my ingredients?

Your baking will be more consistent if you use a kitchen scale. In this recipe, this is more important for the heart-shaped cake layer than the frosting.

Can I freeze this cake?

Absolutely. Most cakes freeze really well. Just chill the cake until the frosting is slightly firm, then double wrap the cake or individual slices in plastic wrap and put them into a freezer bag. To serve, unwrap the cake and let it come to room temperature over a few hours.

Can I make a heart-shaped cake without a heart-shaped cake pan?

Yes, it’s possible to make a heart-shaped cake from round pans with a smidge of effort.

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.


1-2-3-4 Heart-Shaped Cake with Rose Buttercream

5 from 1 vote
Category: Dessert
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 408kcal
This recipe makes an easy to remember classic vanilla cake in a heart-shaped pan with easy-to-make rose-flavored buttercream.
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  • Stand or hand mixer
  • 1 Heart-shaped or 9 inch round cake pan


1-2-3-4 Cake

  • cups ((180 grams)) cake flour plus more for flouring the pan
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons ((113 grams)) unsalted butter, softened plus more for flouring the pan
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Rose Buttercream

  • 8 tablespoons ((113 grams)) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups ((340 grams)) powdered sugar plus more, as desired
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons rose syrup or vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cream or milk plus more as desired


  • candy hearts or finishing sugar for decorating


1-2-3-4 cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and ready a rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Lightly butter your pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Then lightly flour the pan.
  • Sift or whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl.
    1½ cups ((180 grams)) cake flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a medium bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
    8 tablespoons ((113 grams)) unsalted butter, softened, 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium for one minute after each addition, scraping down the bowl as needed.
    2 large eggs, room temperature
  • Measure out the milk, add the vanilla to the measuring cup, and stir to combine.
    ½ cup whole milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add one half of the dry ingredients to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture, and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the bowl.
  • Add the milk and vanilla and mix on low. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low until just combined.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Rose buttercream

  • Cream the butter until soft, about one minute.
    8 tablespoons ((113 grams)) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Add the powdered sugar and salt and beat on low speed until well-mixed.
    3 cups ((340 grams)) powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Add the cream and rose syrup and beat one minute. Taste and adjust, as desired. For a thinner frosting, add more cream. For a thicker frosting, add more sugar.
    2 tablespoons rose syrup, 2 tablespoons cream or milk
  • Beat for 3 to 5 minutes until light.


  • Level the cake, if desired, and frost the cooled cake.
  • Decorate with candy hearts, finishing sugar, or additional frosting.
    candy hearts or finishing sugar
  • Refrigerate if not serving right away, but bring it to room temperature for at least one hour prior to serving.


Variations and adjustments
If you don’t have a heart-shaped cake pan, this cake can be made in a 9 inch round cake pan. Feel free to double the recipe for a two-layer cake.
With two tablespoons of rose syrup, the rose buttercream has a subtle rose flavor. If you are concerned about the floral flavor, consider starting out with just one tablespoon and taste before adding more. Or substitute one teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.
Feel free to add food coloring to the buttercream if you want to up the pink or dust with pink or red finishing sugar.


Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 171mg | Potassium: 49mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 564IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1mg
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