School Cake

Published by Amy

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School Cake recipe by Baking with Granny. Sponge cake with white icing and rainbow sprinkles.

When I first set out to make this recipe I wondered if School Cake was now a thing of the past. The boys however informed me that you do still indeed get School Cake at lunchtime, albeit not everyday, nor after a ‘nutritious’ serving of Turkey Twizzlers and chips!

School dinners are something that seems to have a generational divide. For me, a child of the 90s, school dinners were pizza, Turkey Twizzlers, Turkey Drumsticks & Turkey Dinosaurs (basically a lot of turkey!), plenty chips and buckets of beans.

Granny remembers mince, stew, cold meats, sausages and fish pie, all served with potatoes and veg – never chips!

And the boys school dinners these days are made up of macaroni, fajitas, bubble fish, stir-fries, steak pie and lots of fruit & veg on the side.

One thing that is always a hit at school dinners, regardless of what generation you are from, is School Cake! Instantly recognisable, this basic sponge is topped with a layer of icing and a generous amount of sprinkles. And that’s literally it…nothing overly fancy but delicious enough to have an entire dinner hall of kids buzzing with excitement and praying there will be at least enough until their spot in the line.

"Yuuuuuum, this is such a delicious recipe! The recipe size makes a really big traycake which stays moist (but it hasn’t lasted very long in our household- its so moreish!). Great, easy, foolproof recipe."
School Cake recipe by Baking with Granny. Sponge cake with white icing and rainbow sprinkles.


Similar to our Victoria Sponge recipe, we recommend using margarine over butter for your cake batter. Some believe butter gives a better flavour overall to a cake, but margarine does make a better textured and more predictable sponge. Plus, it’s pretty much guaranteed that any actual school cake would have been made using margarine – mostly because it’s more cost effective than butter.
As with all ingredients when baking a sponge cake, ensure it is at room temperature before starting.

Caster Sugar
No one said School Cake was healthy and the sweetness is probably why we all love it so! Caster sugar is the sugar of choice here and is preferable over granulated sugar, as it is finer and mixes better into the batter.

Free-range Eggs
Five eggs seems like a lot but this is a big cake! The size of the eggs doesn’t matter too much (I always use medium) but just be sure you’re using free-range eggs.
As with all ingredients when baking a sponge cake, ensure they are at room temperature before starting.

Self-raising Flour
Again, flour is a must in a cake batter and self-raising is used here to allow it to rise. No additional raising agents are required but be sure to sift the flour.

Icing Sugar and Sprinkles
To give your School Cake that iconic finish of white icing, topped with rainbow sprinkles!

Love this? Try this:

School Cake recipe. Traditional school dinner cake.

Granny's Top Tips

• Bake your sponge the night before you require it. Leave it in it’s grease proof paper, on a wire rack and place into a air-tight bag once cool. Decorate with the icing and sprinkles in the morning. This will give your cake a better texture overall – trust me!

School Cake recipe by Baking with Granny. Sponge cake with white icing and rainbow sprinkles.

School Cake

4.87 from 38 votes
Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12



  • Pre-heat your oven to 180°c (160°c for fan assisted oven or Gas Mark 4) and a 9x12 inch baking tin with greaseproof paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at time, ensuring each is mixed through before adding the next.
  • Sift in the flour and gently fold to create a batter.
  • Transfer the batter to your pre-lined tin and bake in your pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes until risen, golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once your cake has cooled completely; in a bowl, mix the icing sugar with a few teaspoons of boiling water, adding a little water at time until you have a thick pouring consistency. Pour the icing onto your cake, using a spoon to guide it to the edges. Finish with some rainbow sprinkles.
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School Cake recipe from Baking with Granny. Traditional sponge cake, topped with white icing and rainbow sprinkles. Just like the cake you got with your school dinners!

97 Responses

    1. 5 stars
      As a first time baker of school cake i have to say it’s an really easy recipe, and it tastes good, i had 4 medium sized eggs instead of 5. And it worked out well.
      A family member had used the oven before me, so it only had to be in for 25 minutes. So be sure to check on the cake.

  1. We have never had a school dinner being from Australia, however this was delicious and so quick to put together. We demolished it warm, without any icing as it was sweet enough for us.

          1. Just add choc powder. I use mint custard with choc cake. That’s how we did it in our school kitchen.

      1. Absolutely delicious, I’m usually a terrible cook but even my husband gave me the thumbs up.
        Very easy to make, even easier to eat!!

    1. Butter is a “richer” ingredient because of its composition and it doesn’t work in some ingredients as well, it ruins them in the same way marg isn’t suitable for some.

      Butter is made mostly of milk/cream itself whereas margarine is diluted with rapeseed oil usually which changes how it works.

      Free range eggs are the best eggs because they are the healthiest given they are coming from chicken that have been given the best chance also a free life.

      It’s not about the cost at all but a combination of the composition and the quality.

      I hope it makes to you.

  2. Haven’t tried the recipe yet but the name got me thinking of Studenterbrød (student bread) from Denmark. It”s more dense and fudgy and a large part of it is made from leftover pastries and/or cake that are no longer worth selling. It was considered a cheap cake option for students in the old days.

  3. Yuuuuuum, this is such a delicious recipe! The recipe size makes a really big traycake which stays moist (but it hasn’t lasted very long in our household- its so moreish!). Great, easy, foolproof recipe

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe was really easy to follow. The ingredients are things you should already have lying about the house. I only made half of the recipe to test it out. It was delicious and the cake was really light, with or without icing! It will go really well with custard ! A new favourite for sure! :)

      1. 5 stars
        Such a good recipe, so easy to follow and remember. Overall, I love this site and it’s my go to as a baking granny who only discovered the joys of home baking during the Covid lockdowns.

        The school cake is such a winner and makes me very nostalgic for Scottish school dinners which always included a pudding!

        Thank you Amy and family xx

  5. hi what ingredeants did u youse as im going to be bakeing all the way throuh lock down to insure my fambily like my bakeing xxxxxxxxxxx

      1. No Leanne dear, it is not.
        If you just do that you are altering the structure first remove a couple of tablespoons of flour and then add the same of cocoa powder, and sift together, if you want to be really fussy, temper the cocoa powder spoon for spoon with hot water and add it to the butter sugar mix.

    1. Well in fairy buns it’s normal 75g of flour and 25g Cocoa powder. So you can work it out for this recipe. Hope that helps

  6. Hello, I am wanting to make this cake for my mum’s birthday in a few days as she has been wanting to try it. How many does this recipe serve? Also, if I were to half it, how many eggs would I use since 5 doesn’t half equally. Many thanks :)

    1. Sorry, I just found that the servings are listed above. Although I still have the question about the eggs. Thanks again :)

      1. Hi Leah rose, You could crack 5 eggs int a jug and whisk use half for the cake and make an omelette with the rest. All the best.

        1. Well, I would have been faffing about trying to halve the recipe. This is the perfect way. Scrambled eggs for breakfast tomorrow! Thank you, Rab!

      2. Hi Leah, I would use two large eggs for half the mixture. I found 5 eggs quite a lot, but they were larger medium eggs if you know what I mean. Lovely recipe

      3. Use 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons milk replace 2 tablespoons of flour with cocoa powder for a chocolate version

  7. Can this cake be left in the fridge overnight? I am wanting to bake it the day before it is going to be served, but I don’t want to leave it out as it is a surprise for my Mum’s birthday and I do not want her to see it. Many thanks :)

  8. SO GOOD I love ittttt tastes really nice initially I thought 5 eggs sounds a bit off but it taste really good and not eggy at all

  9. This cake is absolutely amazing my family and I enjoyed this very much ! You must try this recipe

  10. Amazing cake recipe. I’ve also done a chocolate version just add 60g of bournville coco powder .

  11. 5 stars
    Great memories from my primary school dinner’s, i haven’t made it yet, but i have decided to bake this for my son’s birthday cake.

  12. 5 stars
    I would like to thank you and Kitchen Sanctuary with out your help I would have not been , able to pass my course and Annie Low .. I enjoyed baking School Cake it didn’t have sprinkles so I used chocalate flakes on top just done it today taste braw. My regard s from yhe Cheeky Baker.

  13. 5 stars
    Absolutely phenomenal! I waited ages to make this and when I did it turned out perfect
    So simple in its parts but was exactly what I craved. Thankyou for the school days throwback

  14. 5 stars
    Loved making this cake, and yes used to have it at my school. Can’t wait to try it. Recipe so easy to follow.

  15. 5 stars
    I made the cake for the first time and it was delicious. I did make some changes instead of margerine I used clover light butter and instead of 280g caster sugar I used 160g it was still great. The icing sugar I also did not use as much and was 260-280g. I shared it with my Grandma and partner they all said it was nice. I am going to make my second one soon. Thank you so much for the boiling water technique to make the Icing plus sifting the flour that I forgot!

  16. In my oven now can’t wait to taste to bring back all those memories of school dinner used to be served with what I think was a water based custard but not 100% sure on that but I do remember it was delicious. I am topping mine with Raspberry jam and rolled icing I think it will work well.

  17. 5 stars
    Beautiful delicious cake and easy to make and serve. But how do I prevent the icing falling off on the second day when I’m cutting the remainder of the cake?

  18. The link for the tin size to Amazon isn’t right, takes you to a electric heater – just thought I’d let you know

  19. 5 stars
    I am the worst at baking until now!!!!!
    Made this exactly step by step, and my colleagues were obsessed with the taste.
    Not too sweet and stayed moist overnight which was great to see.
    Trying the kinder Bueno brownies today :)

    1. Sounds like either a) the cake was too warm. Let the cool completely cool on a rack before icing and/or b) the icing wasn’t thick enough (more icing sugar to thicken it up)

  20. 5 stars
    Hi I have made the cake the over day was beautiful now I wanna do it again but have chocolate icing on the top how do you make chocolate icing please

  21. 5 stars
    Worked like an absolute dream. So easy to make in a blender all thrown in together and en extremely light cake!

  22. 5 stars
    I did gluten free version of this, & omg it was amazing! It rose so well it was huge! Can’t wait wait to make & eat again!

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  24. Hello. I have large eggs. The recipe doesn’t state the size of the eggs so would I use 4 or 5 large eggs?

    Thank you.

  25. 5 stars
    They bring back soooo much nostalgia from primary school these recipes are the best I am soooooo happy I found this web site.

    1. 5 stars
      I agree with you they are my fav thing in primary other than the mince dumplings I could eat it now…………………

        1. 5 stars
          Dumplimgs- flour starch water
          Mince- From a beef heafer or bullock/Butchers
          Make sure it is local food aswell for a bettter outcome and taste.

  26. 5 stars
    I discovered this recipe online a few months ago, and it has since become a staple in my kitchen. The cakes turn out deliciously light, fluffy, and full of flavor every time. They are perfect for family gatherings. Thank you!

  27. 1 star
    Far too much mixture for size tin recommended.
    Was overflowing and I used exact size tin and recipe. Also need vanilla flavour as very very bland without any flavour. I would recommend anyone who wants a successful version to only use 200g each item as 280g is far far too much! And weigh your eggs to be 200g too as this recipe is very eggy. Use a taller tin unless you want your cake mix overflowing.

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Hi! I'm Amy

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Hello, I’m Amy, the voice-behind and creator-of Baking with Granny.

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