If nostalgia were a dessert, it would undoubtedly be an old school dinner cake. Back in simpler times, these baked goods used to fill our homes with a sense of comfort and anticipation. In this article, we'll discover interesting facts about this dessert, its history and various types, and an easy school cake recipe.

How to Make an Old-School Cake

What is an Old School Cake?

Best described as a delightful retro treat that encapsulates traditional flavours along with the joy of childhood, an old school cake has become a symbol of community and togetherness. It’s often shared during school events, birthdays, and special occasions. These vanilla cakes typically resemble a sponge-like dessert that is decorated with sweet icing and colourful sprinkles.

When Was School Cake Invented?

The origins of the traditional old school cake recipe can be traced back to the 1980s. A wholesome treat that required only a few ingredients easily found in any household instantly became popular, still remaining an integral part of UK cuisine in modern times.

Types of School Cakes

Types of School Cakes

Just as classrooms are filled with diverse personalities, old school sponge cakes also come in an array of variations. From the classic buttercream frosting to the adventurous chocolate chip applesauce cake, each type carries its own unique charm. Some popular variations include white chocolate or dark chocolate glaze, and even convenient mini cakes.

Ingredients for a School Cake

Here’s how to make a school cake from simple ingredients:


  1. 200 g any self-raising flour
  2. 200 g caster or superfine sugar
  3. 200 g butter (and some extra to grease the tin)
  4. 4 large-sized eggs
  5. 50 ml warm milk
  6. 2 tsp. vanilla extract or powder


  1. 200 g icing sugar
  2. 2-3 tbsp. warm water
  3. Any type of sprinkles

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make a School Cake at Home


How to Make a School Cake at Home
  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350°F (175°C). Meanwhile, take a 20-cm cake tin and grease the bottom and sides with butter.
  2. Whisk butter with sugar until the mixture becomes fluffy. For the best results, use an electric mixer.
  3. Add in the flour, sugar, eggs, and milk while gently mixing. 
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract. Keep whisking: the batter should be soft and very smooth.
  5. Move the mixture to the tin, evening out the surface.
  6. Leave the tin in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. To check the readiness, insert a toothpick into the dessert: it should be clean when pulled back out.


  1. Start by adding water to the icing sugar and stirring. Remember, the icing should be thick, so it’s best not to use too much water at once.
  2. Spread the icing on top and cover it with sprinkles. If you would like to use decor, this is the perfect time for it.
  3. The icing needs about 1 hour to set. After that, your dessert is ready. Enjoy with hot custard!



The beauty of old school sprinkle cakes lies in their rustic charm, so opt for simple yet delightful decorations, such as buttercream swirls. Frost the cake with a generous layer of vanilla buttercream. For an extra dash of beauty, use a piping bag to create classic swirls or gentle waves on top.

Candied fruits or edible flowers can bring a touch of elegance and uniqueness to this staple dessert. Alternatively, try placing marzipan figurines on top.

As you slice into your homemadecake, you'll not only enjoy its unforgettable taste but also the memories it evokes. After all, this is not just a dessert—it's a slice of history and a celebration of the little joys that shape our lives.


Why has my cake dipped in the middle?

This might happen due to overmixing, an uneven baking temperature, or short baking times.

Why has my cake risen in the middle?

The reasons include the wrong quantity of the raising agent, a wrong size til, or very high baking temperatures.

How do I know that the cake is done?

Try inserting a toothpick into it: a clean toothpick is a sign that your treat is ready.

Why 7-8 eggs?

7-8 is the ideal number when using small eggs for baking. 

How long can an Old School Cake last?

When stored in the fridge, such a dessert can maintain its flavour and texture for about 3-4 days.

What is a school cake made of?

Typically, this dessert includes flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract, forming a deliciously simple yet satisfying treat.

How many calories are in a slice of an old school cake?

A slice of old school cake contains around 250-300 calories, depending on the icing type and decoration used.

Is school cake the same as Tottenham cake?

While they might seem similar, Tottenham cake contains layers of jam, icing, and cherries, setting it apart from the classic school cake, which is a simple vanilla sponge dessert with icing.