The classic Old School Sprinkle Cake was a staple for anyone in the UK having School Dinners. Light fluffy cake, white glaze icing and hundred of sprinkles, or as we used to call them ‘Hundreds and Thousands’.
The best part of school dinners when I was a kid was the puddings, with Old School Sprinkle Cake being my absolute favourite. Delicious served on its own, or drizzled with custard, this is a cake that is simple to make, easy to make in bulk and utterly delicious. It was the perfect school dinner cake, and can be a great cake for baking in your business.
Some people mix Sprinkle Cake up with Tottenham Cake with its pink icing, which is very understandable. Sure it's very similar, but it isn't the same. This is a lighter, more vanilla cake, and instead of mulberry/fruit frosting, Old School Sprinkle Cake is covered in a plain white glace icing and loads and loads of sprinkles - hence the name.
If you want to learn the history behind and how to make Tottenham Cake, you can do so here.
So what is a Sprinkle Cake?
Old School Sprinkle cake is a retro cake that we used to have, if we were lucky, at primary school as pudding after school dinners. It's an easy bake that can be made in large batches, is easy to decorate, and portion up. And when we were really lucky we got a dollop of custard on top as well – heaven
Sprinkles Cake is a moist vanilla cake, usually baked in a tray bake tin, or a tin foil tray if you want to save on washing up. It's iced with a simple glaze icing and then literally smothered with sprinkles, or as we called them when we were young 'hundreds and thousands'. It's then served as square portions direct from the tin. This is a cake with no airs or graces - just pure childish cake enjoyment.
Old School Sprinkle Cake lasts really well as you can keep it in the tin you baked it in and slice off chunks as you need them. As it's covered in icing the top is sealed against drying, however, after the icing sets I would recommend covering with cling film, or keeping the whole thing in an airtight container. It will easily last a few days, if for some strange reason it hasn't all been instantly demolished.
Old School Sprinkle Cake Ingredients/Substitutes
This is a classic Sponge Cake recipe. So the main 4 ingredients are;
You can definitely use a baking spread with this recipe, and I would imagine that most old school cake recipes did just that to keep costs down. You can also use a dairy free alternative. If using real butter I would steer to unsalted butter, but honestly, whatever you have in the fridge will work just fine.
Use either white caster or granulated sugar. If you are using granulated cream the butter and sugar mixture a little longer at the start of mixing to get the best consistency. You can learn more about the difference between Granulated and Caster Sugar
Use medium eggs or large eggs – large would give a better cake texture. Make sure they are at room temperature.
I always use Plain Flour and add my own baking powder. This gives me more control over my ingredients. However, if you only have Self-Raising flour you can also use that and omit the baking powder.
You can also swap the flour out for Gluten Free Flour, but be sure to add the required amount of Xanthan Gum so the cake doesn’t become too crumbly.
Extra Vanilla flavour
A teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla essence is what makes this humble old school pudding into a delicious vanilla sponge cake.
The Glaze Icing is the easiest icing there is and uses just icing sugar with a little water. If you want a slightly different flavour you can use either lemon, lime or orange juice instead of water.
For more information on ingredients you can read my post on Cake Ingredients.
Sprinkles Cake Technique
This is a classic sponge cake recipe using the creaming method. In a large bowl with a wooden spoon or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, start by getting as much air into your mix by creaming the butter/baking spread and sugar together. This process also begins to dissolve the sugar crystals before they enter the oven. This is best done with a stand mixer or an electric whisk as it can be pretty heavy going.
I add the eggs and flour, a half at a time. This is so they get the chance to mix fully, but the flour doesn’t end up overmixed. Overmixing flour will begin to develop the gluten molecules which may result in a bready textured cake.
Once your cake is mixed pour into a prepared tin. The tin can be a tin foil tray, or a brownie baking tin, or a traybake tin. It doesn't matter the shape, but you only want to bake one thin layer of cake.
I bake at 150c in a fan oven. Baking at a lower oven temperature will mean the cake will need to bake for a little longer. However, it will help keep the top of your cake flat. The cake is done when to top is golden brown and a skewer stuck into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
What sprinkles do I use?
Short answer - ANY!!
The coloured sprinkles are simply a means to decorate the top of the cake, make it look fun and to sweeten it a little (as if it needed any more sweetening!). Because of this you can really mix it up when you decorate, so if you have an occasion, or a special holiday coming up try buying different sprinkle mixes to use, you can really make you cake fit in. Whatever you use, just make sure you use lots of sprinkles on the top of your cake. I personally used a tonne of rainbow sprinkles for as much colour as possible.
If you want to put sprinkles into your batter however you will need sprinkles that don’t lose their colour at high temperatures. Either search for Funfetti or Bake Stable Sprinkles. HoneyBerry have sprinkles that are very colourful and they claim are Bake Stable (although I will confess I haven't tried them myself.....yet).
Also, why not colour your icing to match - the Glaze Icing is literally just a little water mixed with icing sugar and takes any food colouring really well. It's hard to get very dark colours (as you're starting from white), but you can definitely put a colourful twist on the look of your cake!
Sprinkles Cake Pro-Tip
It's super easy to make, and has become very popular recently to sell at fairs and markets, or as whole tray bakes. I recently did a market and bought some tin foil containers with clear lids, and baked the cakes directly inside ready for sale. They were a massive hit, and I sold out.
Using special sprinkle mixes, and piping the edges with some buttercream will give value and a topical twist to your Sprinkle Cakes. So for example for Halloween why not use an orange or purple icing, matching buttercream, and a Halloween Sprinkle Mix. Or for Easter use a pastel icing and buttercream and add mini eggs to your sprinkles.
Sprinkles Cake FAQs
Yes, I don’t see why not. Pick a vanilla cake mix and add your own icing and sprinkles on top.
You can, however many sprinkles in the UK will lose their colour once baked. You need to buy specific Bake Stable sprinkles.
You can store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I would recommend cutting as you go, as the longer the cake stays in one piece, the longer it will remain fresh.
You can also freeze your Old School Sprinkles Cake for up to 3 months, if well wrapped. However, you may find the colours in the sprinkles run when you defrost your cake. Therefore, I would recommend freezing the sponge and decorating it when it’s defrosted.
Yes, by swapping the dairy butter and milk for plant-based or vegan alternatives, and the normal Flour for Gluten Free Flour the cake will work perfectly well.
Absolutely. Who wouldn't enjoy a delicious vanilla cake covered in sprinkles for their birthday. It's perfect for the whole family to enjoy, and could even be served as a dessert with ice cream or thick custard.
If you like this recipe, you'll love these:
Old School Sprinkle Cake Recipe
- 1 9" Square Baking Tin or equivalent
- 150 gms Unsalted Butter or Baking Spread
- 150 gms Caster or Granulated Sugar
- 1 tspn Vanilla Essence
- 3 Eggs
- 150 gms Plain Flour you can use Self Raising and omit the Baking Powder
- 1.5 tspn Baking Powder
- 40 ml Milk
- 200 gms Icing Sugar
- 15-30 ml water
- Lots Sprinkles
- Preheat your oven to 150c fan, 170c, 325f, GM3
- Grease and line a 9" square baking tin, or an equivalent tray bake tin or tin foil tray
- In a mixing bowl cream together the butter/baking spread and sugar until light and fluffy and not grainy
- Add the vanilla and mix until well combined
- In a jug crack the eggs, and in a bowl measure flour and baking powder
- Add half of the eggs to the butter and sugar mix and beat until combined
- Add half of the flour and gently mix until just combined
- Repeat with the rest of the eggs and flour
- Lastly add the milk and mix until everything is just combined
- Pour into your baking tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin
- Whilst cooling mix the icing. Place your icing sugar in a bowl and add the water a little at a time until you have a stiff but pouring consistency
- When the cake is cool pour the icing over the top and spread evenly to the edges
- Whilst the icing is still wet decorate with loads of sprinkles
- Allow the icing to set a little before slicing and eating
- For extra indulgence, serve with custard!
Have you Tried this recipe?
I would love to see it or hear about your experience of it.
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Read here how to make the best Light and Fluffy Sponge Cake.