Old School Cake (Retro School Puddings Recipe)
Take a trip down memory lane with this old school cake recipe that’s topped with icing and lots of sprinkles. It’s a UK primary school favourite and an all-in-one vanilla sponge tray bake that’s so easy to make.
If you’ve been to a primary school here in the UK, then this popular cake is a school dinner pudding you can’t forget!
It’s light, soft, fluffy and let’s not forget the sprinkles! Lots and lots of colourful sprinkles – Yum!
The good news is, we no longer need to reminisce about school dinner puddings anymore, because you can make this old school cake easily at home (just like this chocolate concrete cake and this cornflake tart and of course this butterscotch tart recipe– another classic).
Old School Cake
School cake is instantly recognisable! I’ve forgotten how much I loved this cake until I saw it being sold at a local market. It’s now become my go-to cake that I bake as often as I can.
If you’re wondering what a school dinner cake is, it’s a vanilla sponge tray bake with icing and sprinkles. Yes, I meant it when I said it was easy!
Nothing overly complicated, difficult or too fancy, just enough to keep you wanting more and more and just a bit more.
To make this cake all you need to do is mix all your ingredients together in one mixing bowl. It’s then poured into a baking tray and baked in the oven! This old school cake uses a traditional sponge recipe which uses equal amounts of flour, sugar and butter with 4 eggs.
Watch How To Make It
Why Is School Cake Called School Cake?
This cake is a school dinners dessert usually served with warm custard. It was a popular dessert when I was growing up, but I’m not sure it they’re still serving it now.
There’s no surprise as to why schools loved baking it. It’s so easy to make, plus you can make a big batch to feed many mouths.
This cake goes by so many names such as old school cake, retro school cake and an all-in-one sprinkle sponge tray bake.
Below are the ingredients you’ll need to make this school dinners favourite:
- Self-Raising Flour: Self-raising flour is best to use when making cakes as it helps the cake mixture rise.
- Caster Sugar: Caster sugar is used to sweeten the cake. If you’re wondering whether to use caster sugar or granulated sugar, caster sugar is a lot finer and creams into the butter better than granulated sugar.
- Butter (Or Margarine): Though you can use butter to make cakes, margarine provides a better texture for your sponge, it’s a lot cheaper to buy and is easier to cream into sugar.
- Eggs: 4 eggs is used in this recipe. The egg size you use do not matter, I used medium sized eggs.
- Icing: The sponge cake icing is traditionally white and topped with sprinkles (multicoloured hundreds and thousands).
How To Make School Dinner Cake Tray Bake
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to make this old school tray bake cake with sprinkle icing. Full recipe instructions are on the recipe card:
Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C Fan, gas mark 4) and line your baking tray with parchment paper.
Place butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and cream together until combined. I used an electric whisk but you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon.
I put my whisk to the lowest setting until the butter and sugar start to combine, I then increased the speed a little until the two ingredients are creamed completely.
Add one egg into the mixing bowl and whisk together, then add another egg and whisk together. Repeat this process until all eggs have been added into the cake mixture.
You do not want to add all the eggs in one go, doing it one-by-one will help to prevent the cake mixture splitting.
Add the flour bit-by-bit into the cake mixture and fold with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have combined.
Then add the vanilla and a small drop of milk and mix until evenly combined. Adding milk is optional but it really does make a difference, it helps with the texture of the cake.
Pour the cake mixture into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until fully cooked. See the frequently asked questions section to find out how to tell when your cake is baked.
Once the cake has cooled down, you can make the icing.
Mix icing sugar and warm water together until you have a thick consistency, the icing should be thick yet drizzle off a spoon when held up high.
Wait until the cake is completely cooled down before pouring the icing. Finish with sprinkling hundreds and thousands and leave the cake for at least 15 minutes for the icing to set.
It is hard to wait until the icing is set before you eat it, to speed up the process I do sometimes fan over it for a few minutes.
That’s how you make an old school traybake with this easy UK recipe, now all you have to do is enjoy it!
How To Make School Cake Icing
To make a school cake an authentic old school cake, it needs to be covered in thick white icing and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. This sponge traybake has the simplest icing decoration ever which you can prepare in a matter of minutes.
A great tip is to use warm water when making the icing. Watch my video on how I made this cake below to see how to make the icing too.
How To Store
Keep your cake stored in an airtight container at room temperature and keep for up to 5 days. Do not store your cakes in the fridge, it will only dry out the cake and it will not be as moist.
How Long Can I Keep My School Cake For?
Keep your school cake for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Most homemade cakes have a shelf-life of around 5 days. Cakes brought from the supermarket have added preservatives so will last a lot longer than freshly made cakes.
How Do I Know When The Cake Is Baked?
Use a skewer and poke it into the thickest part of the cake (usually the middle). If you take the skewer out and see cake mix, it is not ready and needs to bake further in the oven. But if the skewer comes out clean, then your vanilla traybake is ready.
Can I Freeze School Cake?
Yes, you can freeze this sponge tray bake cake quite easily!
Once the cake has cooled down completely, put the school sponge cake in an airtight container or tightly wrap it in cling-film. A great tip is to cut the cake into squares before freezing, you’ll then be able to take portion sized amounts to eat when ready.
Why Did My Cake Dip In The Middle?
There are so many different factors that can contribute to your cake sinking, below are 3 common reasons:
Opening the oven door too wide and on too many occasions, this can cause the cake to sink in the middle. If you want to check if your cake is cooked, try and wait until it passes the 25-minute mark then have a quick look.
If it wobbles as soon as you touch it, don’t even take it out, it’s definitely not cooked! The cake is cooked when you poke a skewer in it and it comes out clean.
Your oven temperature is way too high! When you place cake batter in an oven that is too high, your cake will rise rapidly then sink. If you forget to preheat your oven, don’t be tempted to set the oven at a super high temperature for 1 minute then turn it down.
Under baking the cake, this happens when you take the cake out of the oven too early. As the cake is not fully cooked it will start to sink when cooling.
What Equipment You Need
Baking Tin: This recipe uses a 9″ baking tin to create 16 slices.
Mixing Bowls: You’ll need a large enough mixing bowl to mix the ingredients together.
Parchment Paper: Used to line the baking tin.
Electric Hand Whisk: An electric whisk will help you whisk the cake ingredients.
Is Tottenham Cake The Same As Old School Cake?
Tottenham cake and retro old school cake are both two different types of school dinner puddings.
Both are traybake recipes, but school cake is decorated with white icing and sprinkles. Tottenham cake icing is usually pink in colour and has a greater milk content inside the cake batter.
More Cake Recipes
Old School Cake | Sprinkle Sponge Tray Bake
- 250 g Self-Raising Flour
- 250 g Caster Sugar
- 250 g Margarine At room temperature
- 4 Eggs
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 tbsp Milk Optional
School Cake Icing
- 200 g Icing Sugar
- 7 tbsp Water
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C Fan, gas mark 4) and line a baking tin with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light, fluffy and combined together.
- Add the 4 eggs one at time, make sure each egg is mixed through before adding the next egg.
- Fold the flour into the cake mixture bit-by-bit and fold until combined. Then add the vanilla and milk into the mixture and fold until combined.
- Pour the cake batter into your pre-lined baking tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until cooked. Insert a skewer to the cake mixture. If it comes out clean, then the cake is cooked.
- To make the icing, mix icing sugar together with warm water. When the cake has completely cooled down, pour the icing all over the cake and spread until the icing evenly coats the cake. Sprinkle with hundreds and thousands, leave the icing to set and enjoy!
How To Store School Sponge Tray Bake:Keep your cake stored in an airtight container at room temperature and keep for up to 5 days. Do not store your cakes in the fridge, it will only dry out the cake and it will not be as moist.
Can I Freeze School Cake?Yes, you can freeze this sponge tray bake cake quite easily! Once the cake has cooled down completely, put the school sponge cake in an airtight container or tightly wrap it in cling-film. A great tip is to cut the cake into squares before freezing, you’ll then be able to take portion sized amounts to eat when ready.
How Long Can I Keep My School Cake For?Keep your school cake for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Most homemade cakes have a shelf-life of around 5 days. Cakes brought for the supermarket have added preservatives so will last a lot longer than freshly made cakes.
How Do I Know When The Cake Is Baked?Use a skewer and poke it into the thickest part of the cake (usually the middle). If you take the skewer out and see cake mix, it is not ready and needs to bake further in the oven. But if the skewer comes out clean, then your vanilla traybake is ready.
Hope you enjoyed this vanilla sponge tray bake recipe with icing. Let me know in the comments below and tag me on Instagram @MyMorningMocha, I would love to see it!
Music in video from Uppbeat, License code: 08VBCZFHCZBZDBBY