Picture this. It’s just your average primary school day. You’re in charge of the over-head projector for assembly, and you’ve been upgraded from your HB pencil to a Berol Handwriting pen – you’re feeling pretty good.
But then the dinner ladies reveal what’s for pudding – vanilla sponge with sprinkles and THAT pink icing. You look to your friends with a knowing wink, it’s a good day lads.
This is the cake that James, my better half, requested for his birthday. Despite reaching the grand old age of 25, he still wanted a slice of that iconic primary school cake.
Don’t mess around with creaming the butter and sugar together and doing it step by step – let’s face it, our dinner ladies probably didn’t! To get an authentic texture, just go with the all-in-one method; it works just as well and will save you a lot of time!
Old School Vanilla Sponge Cake
- 280g softened unsalted butter
- 280g caster sugar
- 5 large free-range eggs
- 280g plain flour (if you want to use self-raising flour then lower the baking powder to 2 tsp)
- 6 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g icing sugar
- 5-8 tbsp water
- pink food colouring (I used this one)
- 3 tbsp sugar strands (sprinkles)
- Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC (fan), then grease and line a 9 x 13-inch brownie pan.
- Cube the softened butter and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder, then mix with an electric whisk for a minute or two until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and fold in gently.
- Pour the mixture into the pan and level it with a knife or cranked spatula. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 – 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Don’t be tempted to open the oven before at least 35 minutes.
- Once baked, turn the cake out onto a cooling rack so the top is now on the bottom and you have a nice level surface on top. While the cake is cooling, make your icing by pouring the icing sugar into a medium-sized bowl and adding the water a tablespoon at a time, stirring until it comes to a thick paste which reluctantly drops from the spoon but is still spreadable. Add your pink food colouring a little bit at a time until you reach a nice pale pink.
- When the cake has cooled, place it onto your serving tray, or board, then pour your icing onto the top of the cake, gently pushing it over the edges with a spoon so you get a nice drip-effect. Cover with sprinkles while the icing is still a bit wet, then leave the cake to set for 10 minutes before cutting into 12 slices.