If you ever enjoyed school dinners (and I use the word "enjoyed" judicially), you will probably remember that the puds were the best part. I remember jelly and ice cream, arctic roll, angel delight with a curly swirl of some artificial cream, and, my favourite, sponge and custard.
Sometimes the sponge would be jam and coconut, sometimes chocolate (in which case, the custard was pink), other times a simple vanilla sponge.
Because I came from a "divorced family", I used to have free school dinners, and I would often look out sadly from the school dining room as my friends sat outside and enjoyed their packed lunches in the sunshine. But then, I could enjoy those stodgy puddings, whilst they had to make do with a penguin bar or, for the really unlucky ones, an apple.
Old fashioned cakes always hold a dear place in my heart, they remind me of a simpler, gentler time, and although my own family were not big bakers, we often went to jumble sales. There was always a table full of victoria sponge cakes, scones, rock cakes, bakewell tarts, and one of my all time favourites, the school cake.
What is Vanilla School Dinner Cake?
I don't remember it being called school cake, I think it might have been called hundreds and thousands cake, on account of the sprinkles. What I do know, is that the cake was a light vanilla sponge, topped with the simplest of water icing, and lots of hundreds and thousands. I had completely forgotten about it until I saw it on Pinterest, where it is really popular in Australia, and I also saw it for sale in my local Co-op! Sadly, that version had egg and butter in it.
- Plant-Based Milk. I used soy milk, but you could use coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk.
- White Sugar. This is a non-negotiable as only white sugar gives that pure vanilla sponge flavour AND colour. Brown sugar adds a more complex flavour that is not needed here. You could, however, use your favourite sugar-substitute.
- Flavourless oil. I use sunflower oil. You could use melted cocomut oil, although that does add a slight flavour.
- Vanilla Extract. Again, non-negotiable.
- Egg Replacer. I use Orgran but you could use Bob's Red Mill too. Instead of whisking this separately and adding it to the mixture, I blend this into all the other wet ingredients.
- Plain Flour. I would like to use a cake flour to see if this gives a lighter texture sponge next time.
- Cornflour. Lightens the sponge.
- Baking Powder.
- Icing Sugar (confectioners sugar), again, this is essential for the icing.
- Sprinkles. I use Dr Oetker brand as they are vegan.
This is a really simple cake to make, and can form the basis of many other vanilla sponge sheet cakes.
I use a 9" square silicone brownie pan because I'm lazy and dislike lining tins. However, if you use a regular tin, make sure to line it.
- Preheat oven to 170c.
- In a blender, whizz together all the wet ingredients, plus the sugar and egg replacer.
- In a mixing bowl, pour the wet ingredients.
- Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt over the top of the wet ingredients.
- Using a whisk, mix thoroughly until you can't see any lumps.
- Pour into your prepared cake tin. The batter is quite runny, so don't worry!
- Bake for between 25-30 minutes or until it is perfectly risen and golden brown on top. It will spring back when you touch it.
- Leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cold, turn out.
- Once cold, you can make the icing.
- Add the icing sugar to a mixing bowl, and, starting with about 2 tablespoon cold tap water, start to mix.
- Water icing is really fun to make because it seems like that tiny bit of water won't do anything, but with continued mixing with a fork, you'll see it start to form a thick paste.
- You want the icing to be pourable but not runny. More spreadable. So, add more water until you get a spreadable consistency. If you add too much water, don't panic, simply add a little more icing sugar!
- Carefully spread this over the top of your cake, and then liberally cover with sprinkles.
- Leave to set completely before cutting into squares.
This will last in the tin for about 5 days.
Try my other simple vegan baking recipes
- The Best Vegan Banana Bread
- Shortbread Plum Squares
- Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake
- Easy Spiced Pumpkin Squares
- Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
- A Classic Pumpkin Pie
- Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- Old-Fashioned Rock Cakes
- 1 cup (1 cup) Soy Milk or plant-based milk of your choice
- 1 cup (1 cup) White Sugar
- ¼ cup Oil I use vegetable or sunflower
- 1 tablespoon Egg Replacer I like to use Orgran
- 3 tablespoon Water
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1½ cups Plain Flour
- ¼ cup Cornflour
- 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- pinch Salt
- 200 g (1½ cups) Confectioners Sugar (icing sugar)
- Water for mixing
- Preheat oven to 170c.
- In a blender, whizz together the sugar, oil, water, egg replacer, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Pour this mixture into a mixing bowl.
- Sift together the flour, cornflour, salt and baking powder over the top of the wet ingredients.
- Using a whisk, mix together until there are no lumps.
- Pour into your prepared cake tin. The batter will be quite thin.
- Bake for between 25-30 minutes or until light golden and springs back to the touch.
- Leave to cool, in the tin, on a cooling rack.
To make the icing
- Once your cake is cool, you can ice it! Whisk together the icing sugar and a little water until you have a thick but smooth and pourable icing. This will only need 2-3 tablespoon cold water. Add a little more, drop by drop. If you make it too runny, add a little more icing sugar.
- Spread over the cake, taking care not to go over the edges, then sprinkle generously with sprinkles/hundreds thousands.
- Cut into squares once the icing has set (a couple of hours).
- Store in a tin for up to a week.