This retro sprinkle tray bake was the trend back in school and one of the highlights of my school days in the UK (yes, really!).  I have forgotten how much I loved this cake until my 11-year-old and I started talking about our favourite school desserts.

You see, school dinners are different in Spain, puddings are only served during celebrations, like the Fallas or Christmas. Most of the time, they either have a choice of yoghurt or fruit. I know it’s healthy and all that, but I wanted to introduce him to what reminded me of my childhood. So last weekend I decided to make it.

Old School Cake Recipe

This school cake traybake makes about 20 slices, so we were quite greedy in making such a big batch. But what the hell! You can always halve the recipe if you want to reduce the quantity. The cake freezes well, so any leftovers can be saved for next time. Or maybe not in our household!


If you’re a lover of old school puddings, then I’d recommend trying this. It’s super easy and it will take you back to the days of slouch socks, NKOTB and bad hairstyles. Don’t you just love nostalgia?!

How To Make The Spoke Cake

This is a basic sponge cake mixture and easy to make. The secret is to ensure that the butter is at room temperature. If I’m in a hurry I cube the butter and leave it in the mixing bowl for at least half an hour, this will make creaming a lot easier. 

Butter Or Margarine?

If you do not have butter available then using margarine is OK too. However, butter has a higher fat content which gives cakes more texture. Use margarine that’s suitable for baking to achieve a similar effect. 

Caster Sugar or Granulated Sugar

Caster sugar is a lot finer than granulated sugar that’s why it’s ideal for making light and spongy cakes. However, there’s not much of a difference if you use granulated instead of caster. I tend to use caster sugar for better effect or if I’m making something special, otherwise, if I only have granulated in the cupboard, I also use that instead. 

Self-raising or Plain Flour

Self-raising flour is the best flour to use for this recipe. However, if you only have plain flour you can add 4tsp of baking powder in 300g of plain flour and it will achieve the same results. 

Five eggs?!?

That’s what my husband said when he read my recipe. Yes, you will need 5 large eggs. Add the eggs alternately as you cream the butter and sugar.

If you only have medium eggs then you can always use these, then add a little bit more milk if the consistency is thick. Avoid creaming the butter and sugar for too long because this will make the mixture curdle or split. Set your electric mixer to medium speed to avoid this.

Old Skool Retro Sprinkle Tray Bake
Retro Sprinkle Tray Bake
Old Skool Retro Sprinkle Tray Bake

Old Skool Retro Sprinkle Tray Bake

Yield: 20 slices
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Be whisked back to your school dining hall with this old school cake with sprinkles! Ideal for special occasions such as birthdays, or just to enjoy amongst family and friends.

Ingredients

Sponge Cake

  • 300 g butter
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 300 g self raising flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 95 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Icing

  • 400 g icing sugar
  • 8 tbsp milk
  • 50 g sprinkles

Instructions

      1. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325 degrees F or Gas Mark 3.
      2. Line a 30cm x 23 cm x 3.5cm square tin with greaseproof paper. Set aside.
      3. For a soft and spongy cake make sure that you have left the butter in room temperature.
      4. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and mix well.
      5. Once all the eggs have been added, add in the flour using 2 tablespoons at a time to make sure the mixture is smooth.
      6. Add in the milk and vanilla essence and mix well.
      7. Pour the sponge cake mixture into the tray and bake for around 25-30 minutes.
      8. Keep an eye on the cake until it turns golden brown. You can see if the cake is done by sticking a toothpick or a knife into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean then your sponge cake is done. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.
      9. Once the cake has fully cooled down, make the icing by adding the milk into the icing sugar.
      10. Add half of the milk first to test the consistency. I like my icing to be quite thick, once the icing is done pour it into the middle of the cake and spread carefully with a spatula. Let the icing run along the sides of the cake for effect. Then add the sprinkles!

Notes

If the icing is too thick for you, you can add more milk to suit your taste.

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Did you make this recipe?

Tried this recipe? Please leave a rating, comment or tag me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest! #ohlaliving

Troubleshooting:

My cake is too eggy

To avoid the cake smelling or tasting too eggy it’s important to add vanilla essence as suggested in the recipe. An eggy cake can also mean that the cake was cooked for too long, 

My cake is taking far too long to bake

Using the correct size tin for this recipe is important to ensure that your cake cooks at the suggested time. If you don’t have the correct tin size to adjust your cooking time, it might need a few minutes more in the oven. 

My cake did not cook in the middle!

Again using the correct tray size is important. If you have a smaller tin, the cake will take longer to cook. If this is the case then adjust your cooking time depending on the size of your cake tin. 

How can I achieve a levelled cake?

Before putting your tray in the oven, tap your cake a few times to level out the mixture. This is a basic trick that I use to achieve a level cake ideal for icing. 

To ensure that your cake comes out perfect it’s essential to follow the instructions in the recipe. Leaving the butter at room temperature is important to achieve a soft and spongy cake.
Creaming your butter and sugar is a very important stage in this process and it should be done until it’s light and fluffy.

Do you like this recipe?

If you like this recipe, then you might also like my other retro cake recipes. Check them out below:

Chocolate Sprinkle Tray Bake
Chocolate Sprinkle Tray Bake

Jam and Coconut Tray Bake
Jam and Coconut Tray Bake

 

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British/Filipina now living in Valencia, Spain. Mum, wife, designer and illustrator. I am also the author of Ohla Living where I share my lifestyle, travel, recipes and creative ideas.

103 Comments

      • Hi,

        The cake came out delicious!
        Just wanted to check- How do I store the cake? Do I need to refrigerate?

        • Hi Jessica, you can leave it out and cover it which I usually do or put it in the fridge and it will store for 2-3 days. But remember to leave it out for at least half an hour before eating. Im glad it came out well for you! Enjoy!

          • Donna Coates

            My 6 year old made it today, i wrapped it in film and popped in food cupboard. How long will it last. We also made some jam and coconut today how about storage for that one please.

          • Mariá

            Hi Donna, I usually leave ours out with cling film over it, but then again it doesn’t last that long in our house. You can place it in the fridge but take it out to get to room temperature before eating for better results, as chilling it can make the cake a little bit hard. 🙂 I hope that helps.

          • Hi not sure if you will see this but wanted to know can I use the mixture for cupcakes instead

        • Brilliant recipe. Mine took longer to cook but I as different thicker tin so understandable but result is amazing. I added lemon zest to sponge and then juice to icing sugar instead of milk. Looks amazing. Still to taste.

    • Lenesha Riley Reply

      This recipe is baaaaaaaaaaaad (I am from south london so bad means great, lol).

    • If I am doing the full recipie but rather than a tray it’s in normal cake tins would I half the mixture in each to make sure that the cake isn’t too thick????

      • Yes, if you are using a smaller tin then I would recommend halving the mixture. 🙂

        • This recipe is way too eggy!!!! It asks for 5 LARGE eggs.. I only used 5 medium and it tastes so eggy it’s inedible!I have no idea why it asks for so many eggs

          • Mariá

            Hi Ashleigh, sorry your cake did not turn out as expected, there could be a few reasons why the cake tasted ‘eggy’. This can happen if the egg is not fresh, or if vanilla essence was not used. Also, it can be a sign that it has been overcooked or cooked at too high a heat. To ensure that you don’t have an ‘eggy’ smell in your cake beat eggs for a while and add vanilla essence and sugar and keep beating it till they become fluffy the egg smell won’t be there. I hope that helps.

          • Mariá

            Hi Carly, it’s recommended to use baking powder or self-raising flour as it helps the cake to rise. If you have baking soda you can use this as a substitute instead. Without baking powder, your cake won’t rise and can turn out flat.I hope this helps 🙂

      • Have been making this cake near enough weekly for the last 5/6 weeks! It’s amazing. The cake always comes out great and reminds me of school lunches!

    • I just use any sugar, always have, castor sugar has just been refined more it makes no difference to cakes etc.

    • Mrs Maysie Martindale Reply

      Midlands, UK.
      OMG! I’ve never been good at baking but this came out perfectly. It was so soft and absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe

  1. Gill Brown Reply

    Hi I Maria I made your retro traybake so delicious I normally share my cakes with friends and neighbours but was very reluctant this time I just kept it for the family I will next time

    • Hi Gill! Thanks for your comment. Yes, definitely too good to share. This recipe is a large portion but it still not enough for our household! Im glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

    • Hi, this turned out lovely! I wanted to ask about freezing the cake, have you frozen with the icing and sprinkles on? It defrost OK? I worry the icing and sprinkles will go weird when defrosting…

      • Hi Indy,

        Thanks for trying it out! I would suggest freezing the sponge cake only. When you are ready to use it then add the icing and sprinkles after it’s defrosted. I hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Hi there, I dont have any self raising flour. Could I use plain flour instead?

    Thanks

    • Hi Rachel, you can add 4 teaspoons of baking powder if you don’t have self-raising flour. This is essential otherwise the cake won’t rise.

  3. Do you happen to have a dairy-free version of this cake – looks wonderful!

    • Hiya! Couldn’t you use some oat milk, or something along those lines instead?

    • MummyMisha Reply

      I used Alpro Coconut Milk as an alternative and it turned out fine.

      • You say you use a square tin, but the side lengths are not the same so it’s not square. Do you mean rectangular?

        • Hi Lynn yes, my bad, I meant a rectangular tin. Thanks for pointing it out I’ll edit that! 🙂

    • Hi any tips to stop the cake rising in the middle and therefore being uneven rather than just having a nice flat cake?

      • Hi Emily, there are a few ways to have to cook a cake that does not rise too much in the middle. Some people use a low temperature and cook their cake slowly and some put ‘cake strips’ along the side of the tin to even out the rise. Personally, I have not done any of the above. However, before putting my cake in the oven, I give it a little tap to even out the batter this help release extra air bubbles and level everything out. I hope that helps! 🙂

    • Hi Rachel. I haven’t used margarine on this recipe. But I think it’ll be OK to use margarine as long as it’s suitable for baking.

  4. Came out very well and tastes good. I think my only issue is, the cake tastes a bit too eggy for my liking (I used 5 medium eggs). Other than that, great.

  5. As you use milk in the icing, How long does the cake last and how do you store it? Fridge?

    • I use long-life milk for the icing so it lasts quite long. If you use fresh milk, I think it lasts for about 4 days in the fridge. However, in our household the cake doesn’t last very long as it’s usually eaten within a couple of days!

  6. Hi Maria, I dont have a baking tin.. is it ok to use a large clay dish instead to bake this in? or would it mess to much with the temperature/heat/timing etc? Sorry if this sounds like a silly question, I just dont want to mess it up, thank you <3

    • Hi Kris, yes that’s fine, I’ve used a pyrex dish/ square clay dish before and it was OK. 🙂

  7. Followed the recipe, it’s been In 30 mins and is still wobbly. Is the oven temperature of 140 fan correct??

    • Hi there, I advise to leave it for a few more minutes if it’s still wobbly. Yes, I have an electric oven and 140 is the usual temp I put it in.

  8. Hi, I followed the recipe exact however the cake was very wet and buttery / oily when it was cooked. Is this normal or did I go wrong somewhere?

    • Hi Abigail, there could be a couple of reasons why your cake turned greasy. Overbeating the batter at too high speed can produce an oily cake as well as butter that’s too soft. Butter that’s also too cold won’t cream properly and the mixture will curdle, resulting in a coarse-textured/greasy cake. The butter should be left to thaw in room temperature before using. I hope that helps.

  9. Hi, made this today, followed all ingredients and instructions however the top of the cake was well done but when I put a knife in the centre to check if it was cooked it didn’t come out clear, do you have any suggestions please.
    Thanks, Kelly.

    • Hi Kelly, you might need to leave the cake in the oven for a few more minutes and allow it to cook more. If you cooked in a smaller pan, this might be one of the reasons as the cake will be thicker. The recipe is suitable for 30cm x 23 cm x 3.5cm square tin. I hope that helps. 🙂

      • I had the same issue however the bottom didn’t cook properly despite following recipe. I made a similar cake with same ingredients before just didn’t use milk, could this be the issue?

        • Hi Jo, there could be several reasons why this happened. I don’t think it’s to do with the milk. Check your oven temperature, It might be off…most ovens are. Ensure that your cake is in the centre of the oven. Also test the cake with a toothpick to see if its done, if the stick comes out with batter attached, then you will need to leave the cake for a little longer. Also use the tin size recommended in the recipe, a smaller pan will take a lot longer to cook. 🙂 I hope that helps.

  10. Followed the recipe and instructions. Split mixture between 2 baking tins but took 50 mins to cook and sponge is very heavy not a light sponge.

    • Hi Claire, sorry your cake did not turn out as you expected. This could be a number of reasons. A cake that is heavy typically has too much liquid, too much sugar or too little leavening. Also maybe the temperature was not hot enough or was not preheated long enough. A cake that bakes too slowly takes longer to set and may ‘fall’, causing a heavy and dense texture. Also, it’s advisable to use the correct size pans recommended, as the recipe is calculated to yield and if the pan size is changed it alters the baking temperature and time. Larger, more shallow pans need increased heat, while small, deeper pans need decreased heat. I hope that helps 🙂

  11. Hi, is it okay to leave the cake out overnight but covered? Or does it need to be put in the fridge? Don’t want it to lose its softness

    • Hi Leah. Yes, that’s what I do with my cakes, as long as the room is not too hot. However, if you decide to put it in the fridge just leave it out for an hour or so and it’ll soften down again. 🙂

  12. Precious Osazee Reply

    lovely receipe!!! turns out great every time. nice and moist

  13. It doesn’t cook! Cake was so beautifully golden brown but raw in the middle. Where did I go wrong?

    • Hi Louise, this could be a temperature issue. Ovens vary in temperature, so base your baking on the length of time and temp you usually cook your cakes cook for. Ensure that the cake is in the centre of the oven too. Test the cake before taking it out, and if it’s still jiggly or liquidy when you take the toothpick out then leave it in for a few minutes more. Also use the recommended tin size, this can also have an effect on cooking time. I hope that helps. 🙂

  14. This recipe right here deserves all the credit 😩 I started selling tray bakes and have managed to turn over steadily 30 cake orders minimum.

    • Hi Christine, thanks for your lovely comment and I’m glad to hear that you are doing well with selling them! Good luck and keep baking! 😀

  15. The recipe was very nice my cake turned out excellent everyone loved it. The only thing I didn’t do was add the amount of milk you said I only went in with a few drops as I didn’t want the cake to be to runny and it turned out perfectly fine ! 🙂

  16. I loved it! Usually I ditch a recipe if it has more than 2-3 eggs. But I decided to follow this one and honestly I loved it! Tasted like childhood
    Thank you so much

  17. Hi Maria I love making this cake I made it so many times thank you . I want to let you know that someone on Facebook is using your pictures and recipes as hers and it’s been shared 1k times

  18. I made the school dinner cake today, and it was amazing!! My cake did take a little longer to cook in the middle as my tray was slightly smaller(30 by 20) and my oven is a bit weak it took maybe around 20 minutes more but it was still so fluffy and soft. For the icing I added a little bit of vanilla essence.
    I’ve ordered this cake many times and it has never been close to my childhood memories but this recipe replicates that taste so accurately. Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Amy, I’m glad you enjoyed the cake! Great idea about adding vanilla in the icing! 😀

  19. This recipe turned out amazing!!! I was a bit worried as I used granulated sugar instead of caster but the cake still turned out great!! It was most and ver fluffy! One thing tho was that for me it needed 40 minutes to bake instead of 30 but overall WOW FAB CAKE💓

  20. I made this cake yesterday & it was honestly amazing! It tasted exactly how I remember it in primary school. It did smell quite eggy when it just came out the oven but it didn’t taste eggy at all it was perfect! I had to adjust the cooking time though as my tin was a bit smaller so it took around 40 minutes to cook. Do you know if it’s possible to make this in a foil tray?

    • Hi Gemma, yes some people have mentioned about the cake smelling eggy, as it has a few eggs in it, I would advise to add vanilla essence and you did right to cook it longer as your tray is smaller than mine. I cant see any problem cooking this in a foil tray, but I would line it with greaseproof paper so that the cake does not stick in the small crevices in the foil. I hope that helps 🙂

  21. This may sound utterly ridiculous but when halving the recipe (I have a smaller tin and also don’t need 20 slices of cake) do I also half the eggs used so 2 1/2 eggs? How is that possible? Should I just use three?

    Thanks in advance x

    • To halve the recipe I would recommend using 3 eggs that should be fine. If you find that the mixture is a little bit thick, then add just a little bit of milk. I hope that helps 🙂

  22. Sally Williams Reply

    Hi. I have a double oven. Top oven is electric and bottom oven is fan assist oven. Which one to use?

  23. Made this earlier today, I’ve never been good at making but omg this turned out amazing, so soft and fluffy and made me feel so nostalgic, thanks so much

  24. Siân Cousins Reply

    Hi, can you let me know where I can buy the exact traybake tin?

    • Hi Sian, I recommend the Mary Berry Cake tin which you can find the link in the end of the recipe. However, I looked and it seemed to be sold out. So you can also use 22.6 x 33cm size tin. Here is the link

    • Hi there, yes you can melt the butter a little in the microwave, but do not let it turn runny, just very soft. 🙂

  25. Bismah Ishaq Reply

    I’ve tried making this twice and for some reason after I’ve put the icing on the cake starts to get soggy

  26. MummyMisha Reply

    Amazing and so simple! I was worried that it would taste ‘eggy’ with 5 eggs but it turned out perfect! Just like school days here in the UK! Thank you.

  27. Awesome recipe! The traybake came out outstanding and I’ve tried plenty recipes from different sites, but this one hands down is the best! Thank you 😊

  28. We made this cake a few weeks ago and loved it. My children have been asking to make it again ever since! It took longer to bake than the recipe said as our tin was deeper. The cake was an absolute hit and we are making it again today for a friend’s birthday party. Thank you for sharing xx

  29. Most school cake is made using soft margarine. Schools are always on a budget. Stork is good for this cake. The recipe is correct so good luck baking. From a current dinner lady

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  31. hi,

    which butter is best unsalted or salted?

    and which type of milk is best?(whole milk or semi skimmed etc)

    thanks

    • It doesn’t really matter you can use either. If using unsalted just add a little bit of salt to your cake mixture.

  32. Do you think putting sprinkles in the cake to make it a funfetti cake would work?

    • Hi there, yes I think it would work! Though not sure how much funfetti you should add, just give it a try 🙂

  33. Lisa O'Brien Reply

    My cake turned out perfect used medium eggs & added 3 level teaspoons of baking powder 👌🏻

  34. Absolutely amazing cake I halved and used up the rest of my icing sugar, substituted with plain flour and baking powder we left out icing as we prefer just cake, came out perfect. I really appreciate that you put so much info on substitutions. We have very fuzzy eaters here and I got raving 5 star reviews from them for the baking so thank you very much.

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