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.

Retro Sprinkle Tray Bake

This 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?!

Making The Sponge Cake

This is a basic sponge cake mixture and easy to make. The secret is to ensure that the butter is in 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 retro ever so moreish tray bake recipe! Ideal for special occasions such as birthdays, or just to enjoy amongst family and friends.


Sponge Cake

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


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


      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!


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

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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 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 in 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.

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she should



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

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.


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

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

Ellie-mae Boote

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????


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


Could I use plain flour without baking powder by any chance


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!


It just says sugar is that normal sugar or caster sugar?

Angel Harber

Caster suger


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

Mrs Maysie Martindale

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

Gill Brown

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, is there any eggless recipe available for this cake?


Hi. OGG have a plant-based egg substitute called ‘Aquafaba’. It’s saved me searching all vegan recipes. I now search a normal recipe and substitute the egg with the plant-based alternative. Sub milk with either coconut milk, oat milk or almond milk. & sub butter for either non dairy butter or vegetable shortening.

Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and I believe Asda now sell Aquafab and it’s brilliant!! I love baking with it. Highly recommended.


Hi does it have to be unsalted butter? X


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



Im so looking forward to making this once I have found eggs 🙈


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?


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


Hi how do you know what size tray you would need?


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


Can you use margarine instead of butter?


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.


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


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


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


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?

Kelly Cullen

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.


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?


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, 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

Precious Osazee

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


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


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


An absolutely amazing recipe.. We all loved it.



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 ! 🙂


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

Sarah w

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


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!!


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💓


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?


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

Sally Williams

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

Ames b

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

Siân Cousins

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


Can’t I just melt the butter

Bismah Ishaq

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


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.


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 😊


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


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

[…] Recipe: Old Skool Retro Sprinkle Tray Bake The BEST Sprinkle Tray Bake cake EVER! […]


Thank you for sharing the recipe. It was delicious and I have made this cake over 10 times now.

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