School Dinner Sprinkle Cake Tray Bake

This classic cake used to be a regular at school dinners in UK schools – here’s how to make your own.

Combining delicious sponge with icing and lots of sprinkles, this school dinner cake tray bake recipe requires fewer than 10 ingredients.

The instructions below are super simple and will make for around 9-12 slices.


To make 10 servings

  • 250g sugar
  • 250g softened butterAt room temperature
  • 250g self raising flourOR plain flour + 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk (optional)For best results
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 300g icing sugar
  • Custard (optional, to serve)

How to make School Dinner Cake Tray Bake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees / 160 degrees fan
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Stir in the flour a bit at a time to create a smooth cake batter. If you don’t have self raising flour, you can mix in two teaspoons of baking powder with plain flour and use that.
  5. Finish by stirring in the milk and vanilla.
  6. Transfer to a lined or greased baking tray and cook for around 25-30 minutes or until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Alternatively, you could split the mixture into cupcake cases.
  7. Allow the cake to cool fully before icing.
  8. For the icing, combine the icing sugar with warm water a tablespoon at a time (you can also use milk) until you have a thick but still runny paste.
  9. Spread the icing over the cake and top with sprinkles.
  10. Allow icing to set before cutting and serving.
  11. For the ultimate old school experience, serve with custard.

Make your sprinkle cake even better

This classic school dinner cake tray bake recipe already sounds delicious and nostalgic! Here are some tips and alterations to enhance or vary the recipe, adding a twist or improving it based on your preferences.

Adding more flavour

Add the zest of one lemon or orange to the cake batter to introduce a refreshing citrus note. You can also add a bit of the juice to the icing for a citrusy glaze. You can also incorporate a teaspoon of mixed spice or cinnamon into the batter for a warm, spiced flavour that complements the vanilla essence.

Alternatively, infuse the icing with flavours like almond, lemon, or even a hint of mint. This can complement the base flavour of your cake beautifully.

Making it more healthy

You can try reducing the sugar in the cake batter by 20-30% if you prefer a less sweet cake, especially since the icing adds sweetness.

Substitute half of the self-raising flour with whole wheat flour for a fibre boost. Note that this might make the cake denser, so it’s a trade-off between health and texture.

Remember, the beauty of baking is in the experimentation. Feel free to mix and match these suggestions to create a cake that’s uniquely yours!