Recipe | Simple school sponge cake with white icing and multicoloured 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 which is being published in April 2020. You can find more info about that here.

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)

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 πŸ™‚

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

Claire Huston / Art and Soul

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

  2. Pingback: Top baking posts of 2015 | Art and Soul

  3. Pingback: Old school sponge, icing and hundreds and thousands – bookboodle

  4. Pingback: Recipe | Giant doughnut cake with hundreds and thousands | Art and Soul

  5. Pingback: Recipe | Cherry cake | Art and Soul

  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™‚


  11. I loved this cake in school. Just been out to buy the ingredients and I’m just waiting to take it out of the oven. Ok let you know how it turns out. Thank you for your easy recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Friday Night Cookery Club – Dear Katy

  13. Pingback: Recipe | Easy cream sponge cake | Art and Soul

  14. Made this cake twice now absolutely delicious kids loved it too reminds me of school. I cut the amount of sugar in the recipe just personal preference as it has icinpurg on it

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hey Claire, I made this cake earlier and I have a few quick suggestions to improve the guide:

    1) It would be great to include the ingredients for the icing at the start of the recipe (they can be easy to miss if you buy your ingredients before reading the entire recipe).

    2) Vanilla extract is listed as an ingredient at the start, but isn’t mentioned again. It would be really nice if it was mentioned within the recipe (it can be easy to forget about – plus to baking newbies like me, it isn’t entirely clear whether it is meant to go in to the sponge or the icing).

    Thanks for the guide and hopefully I have helped you improve the recipe for newbies!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I followed this recipe earlier and I have a few suggestions on how to improve it:
    1) It would be great if you included the ingredients for the icing in the ingredient list at the start of the recipe. They can be easy to miss if you buy your ingredients without reading the entire guide.
    2) Vanilla extract is mentioned in the ingredient list and not within the recipe. It can be easy to forget about, and to baking newbies like me, it isn’t entirely clear whether it should be used for the sponge or the icing. It would be great to have it mentioned within the recipe!
    Hopefully I’ve helped you make the recipe easier to follow!


    • Sorry, ignore my comment. I just sat down after an afternoon of baking and while saving this recipe and going through it again, I noticed it actually says 160 degrees… apologies – I just didn’t see it. It’s the first time I’ve made it – the cake turned out lovely and the husband is very happy! So recipe is saved – thank you! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Recipe | Cappuccino swirl layer cake with caramel buttercream | Art and Soul

  18. This recipe is absolutely amazing. So easy to make and so delicious. I barely got it cooled down and iced before it was eaten. It really takes me back to those school days. I can safely say I definitely will be making lots of more of this. Thank you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It was my son’s 27th birthday and I wanted to bake a simple cake. Luckily I came across your traybake with sprinkles and he happens to love this type of cake! The recipe was so easy to follow, it was ready to go into the oven in no time! It turned out beautifully, light and fluffy. Thanks for this recipe, I was delighted with the results ! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: Recipe | School jam and coconut sponge cake | Art and Soul

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s