Recipe | Simple school sponge cake with white icing and multi-coloured sprinkles

Simple school sponge cake with white icing and sprinkles recipe how to make

Another step closer to fulfilling my promise to make all the cakes which feature in my first novel, Art and Soul. This time it’s simple old school sponge cake with water icing and sugar hundreds and thousands. This cake is a childhood classic (it brings back memories of the sponge with sprinkles they used to serve in my school canteen) and the favourite of the novel’s second-most important character: Charlie. As if that weren’t enough, it eventually becomes an important plot point. Who knew cake could be so influential? πŸ™‚


  • 200 g butter/margarine (7 oz or approx. 7/8 of a cup)
  • 175 g caster sugar (6 oz or approx. 3/4 of a cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (5 ml)
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 g self raising flour (7 oz or approx. 1+3/4 cups)


This school sponge cake is made is a rectangular tray and ideally is should rise only a little and evenly to give you a flat surface to ice.

Grease your tray and line with baking paper. My rectangular tin measures 32 x 19 cm and 3 cm deep. In inches that’s 12.5 x 7.5 and just over an inch deep. You can use any shape baking tin for this recipe as long as it has a similar volume to the one I used.

Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees C (140 fan)/ 325 degrees F or Gas Mark 3.

If making the old school sponge cake by hand, I’d suggest creaming together the butter and sugar first, then adding the eggs, then the flour. If you’re using a mixer, you can put all the ingredients in and combine in one go.

Pour your sponge cake mixture into your tray and bake for 25-35 minutes. Keep an eye on your cake. When it goes a golden brown it’s time to take it out. If in doubt, stick a knife into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, your sponge cake is done.

I left mine in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

How to make Charlie's old school sponge cake just out of the oven

When your cake has cooled you can get to the fun part – the icing!

I used ordinary icing sugar and added a little water until I got the consistency I wanted (not too runny or it will all slide off the cake leaving only a translucent layer). Sorry I don’t have exact quantities for the icing sugar and water, I just did it all by eye… I would guess it was around 250 g / 9 oz icing sugar, then I added a teaspoon of water at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition until I got the thickness I wanted (it should coat the back of the spoon you’re using to mix the icing). Don’t panic if yours goes too thin: you can “rescue” it by adding a little more icing sugar to thicken it up again. Of course, if you’d like pink icing, or any other colour, you only need to add a few drops of food colouring to your basic white icing mix. Once your school sponge cake is covered in the icing, sprinkle over your hundreds and thousands, coloured sugar strands, sprinkles or any other decorations you fancy.

Simple old school sponge cake with white icing and sprinkles recipe

If you cut the school sponge cake into squares, you should be able to get 15-20 servings out of it (depending on how generous you are). I cut mine into triangles, as that’s how it’s served in Art and Soul and was how the canteen used to serve it when I was at school. But it tastes just as good whatever the shape and goes particularly well with a cup of tea πŸ™‚

How to make simple old school sponge cake with white icing and sprinkles recipe

Claire Huston / Art and Soul






45 thoughts on “Recipe | Simple school sponge cake with white icing and multi-coloured sprinkles

  1. I love cakes like this, reminds me of buying pieces for 20p at school fetes etc. Makes me feel all nostalgic, particularly with the hundreds and thousands. I’m going to definitely give this one a try.
    I can see if I ever read your book (which I hope I will) I’m going to need a supply of snacks to ward away hunger pangs x

    Liked by 1 person

    • It makes me so happy to hear that! The reason it’s the character’s favourite in my book is because it reminds him of his school where they used to sell this cake in the canteen πŸ™‚ Glad to hear it’s not just me!
      You can’t beat a nice simple sponge cake, especially with a nice cup of tea.
      All the cake featured is probably a result of me writing while stuffing myself πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. I want to be able to buy one of these in the shops……a lovely plain sponge with icing………not the usual salted caramel, chocolate carrot rubbish. Your cake has made me hungry . Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reminds me of the fairy sandwiches I do for afternoon tea with young kids. Just butter bread or open bridge rolls and sprinkle with fairy dust aka sprinkles. I don’t know why, but they just love ’em…and of course they can (messily) help make them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve just measured my tin. It’s 32 x 19 cm and 3 cm deep. In inches that’s 12.5 x 7.5 and just over an inch deep.
      Thank you for asking – I’m going to update the recipe page with this information! πŸ™‚


  8. hi was the cake in the pic made with butter or marg? the cake i had at school used to have a white sponge.. think they used marg as butter tend to make sponges yellow…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello. I used baking margarine. Butter would be ok if you beat it for a few minutes at the start of the method before adding the sugar. Butter will lose almost almost all its yellow colour the the longer you beat it. But it’s only one to try if you have an electric mixer or beaters to take the work out of it for you!


  9. I made this for my husband and kids today-who had never had this before. It was so lovely- I was worried that it wouldn’t turn out as I remember from school but it was spot on. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so pleased it turned out well for you. I’ve tried a few sponge cake recipes, but this is still the one which produces a sponge most like the one they used to sell in our school canteen. It was so lovely πŸ™‚ Brings back good memories!


  10. I made this for the grandchildren but luckily enough all the adults liked it too. I can’t believe how quick and easy it is. I have just made another one for a MacMillan charity coffee morning in a couple of days. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would recommend using about 250 g (9 oz) icing sugar. Add a teaspoon of water to the icing sugar at a time, mixing well after each addition. Go slowly because it can become too thin really fast – although you can always “rescue” it by adding a bit more icing sugar to thicken the mix up again.
      I hope it turns out well for you – it’s a reliable recipe which hasn’t let me down yet! πŸ™‚


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