Recipe | Simple school sponge cake with white icing and multicoloured sprinkles

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

I made this cake the first time as part of fulfilling my promise to make all the cakes which feature in my first novel, Art and Soul which is out now! If you like reading uplifting contemporary romance, you can get your own copy on Amazon.

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? 🙂


  • 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) or vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs (medium or large is fine)
  • 200 g self raising flour (7 oz or approx. 1+3/4 cups)

For the decoration

  • 225g icing sugar (8oz or approx. 1+3/4 cups), preferably sieved
  • 2-3 tbsp water (start with 1 and build up gradually so your icing isn’t too thin)
  • Coloured sugar sprinkles/ sugar strands of your choice
  • Optional food colouring if you’d like colourful icing


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 if using a fan oven)/ 325 degrees F (275F fan) or Gas Mark 3.

If making the old school sponge cake by hand (or if you don’t mind spending a little more time on the steps), I’d suggest creaming together the butter and sugar first, until light and fluffy. This can take several minutes of mixing, even if using electric beaters. Add the eggs, beating the cake mixture after each egg. And the vanilla, then stir the flour in gently until all the ingredients have combined into a smooth mixture. Watch out for hidden pockets of flour lurking at the bottom of the bowl! If you’re using an electric stand mixer to make the cake, you can put all the ingredients in it and combine in one go.

Pour your sponge cake mixture into your prepared baking 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). I would recommend starting with 225 g / 8 oz icing sugar (preferably sieved) and adding 1 tablespoon of water to the sugar as a start. Stir the water into the sugar, then add another spoonful of water, mix thoroughly again, and keep going in this way until you get the thickess of icing you want (it should coat the back of the spoon you’re using to mix the icing and run off slowly). Don’t panic if your icing 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.

Pour the icing all over the top of your cake. 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 🙂

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

A plea from this baker/writer

If you’ve read this far and have found this recipe, or any of my recipes useful, please consider returning the favour by buying one of my books! The ebooks cost less than a coffee and they are free with Kindle Unlimited.

Claire Huston romance novels Twitter pinned pic June 2022

Claire Huston / Art and Soul

126 thoughts on “Recipe | Simple school sponge cake with white icing and multicoloured sprinkles

  1. Hello. I just wanted to echo all the previous comments on here to say this is the best traybake sponge I have ever made. So light, soft and delicious. I have made the sprinkle version many times now but a new family favourite is jam and desiccated coconut on the top which is divine on it’s own or with a coating of custard. I have one in the oven now to take to my grandchildren later. Many thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello!
      For these quantities of ingredients, you’d need 2 dessertspoonfuls of cocoa powder (approx. 7 g), dissolved in 2 tablespoonfuls of warm water (approx 35 ml). Mix the cocoa and water until all the powder has dissolved and you have a smooth mixture before you add it to the rest of the cake mix.
      I hope that helps and it turns out well for you! 🙂


  2. I’ve been searching for this exact school cake recipe! Takes me back to having just 15 minutes to get 25p out my locker, dash down to the canteen and pretty much inhale the triangular beauty before heading off for double maths 😂 great stuff, I’m off to check I have all the ingredients ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I made this the day before I went in labour about 11 months ago. We sliced it up and took a tub of it to the hospital to munch on! I had an epidural not long after arriving and was only told afterwards that I wasn’t allowed to eat anything…so had to sit there all day watching my partner eat it while I was starving. Thank god I managed to eat a good amount the day I made it haha. Tasted absolutely delicious

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This cake is lovely I’ve made it’s a few time now! Could you add cocoa to make it a chocolate sponge? I’ve looked for a recipe but they’re so big and that’s what I like about this recipe it’s just nice size.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is great to hear, thank you!
      I think you could add 2 level tablespoons of cocoa powder at the same time as the flour to make it chocolatey. That should be enough cocoa to give it the flavour, but not too much to make the sponge dry. I hope it works for you! 🙂


  5. Hi, I’ve used this recipe so many times for school bake and it’s the best ! Simple yet delicious .
    Could I use it in a round 6” tin and stack the layers to make a birthday cake ?


    • I’m so pleased it’s turned out well for you and been reliable! 🙂
      Yes, these quantities of ingredients should make enough mixture to fill two 6 inch tins. The baking time should be about the same, but I’d just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t brown too quickly 🙂 I hope it makes a lovely birthday cake too!


  6. Hi this is my favourite sponge cake recipe 🙂 I only have a 9×13 inch tray to bake in, could you please tell me how I can adjust the measurements correctly to fit into that size tray? Many thanks xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, That’s great to hear 😊 Your 9×13 inch treat has a slightly larger area than the one I used. So if you just use the amounts in the recipe it will turn out fine but perhaps be a little thinner – you might need to bake it 2-3 minutes fewer as well 😊


  7. Hi I’ve just made this cake and I followed the ingredients but its quite moist. Any idea why and do you have any tips what to do next time I make it again. Thank you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello!
      The only things I could suggest are: using 3 medium sized eggs, rather than large eggs (if you used large last time); and baking the cake for a little longer, perhaps 5 minutes longer. That should help it be a little drier, but hopefully not too dry.
      I hope that helps and it still tasted delicious 🙂


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