Birthday Cake (All-in-one vanilla sponge)



A delicious, light vanilla sponge birthday cake recipe. Quick and simple to make and perfect for decorating to make a birthday really special.

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A delicious, light vanilla sponge birthday cake recipe. Quick and simple to make and perfect for decorating to make a birthday really special.

When I was a child I loved the birthday cakes my mum made and decorated for me. At my parties I was always really proud to show off my birthday cake to my friends. In the weeks running up to my birthday I used to look through my mum’s cake decorating book and choose the cake I wanted (actually I always chose the fairy castle, but never got it).

Now I have my own children, it’s important to me to do the same for them. Rather than choosing from a book, I let them describe what they want and then scour the internet for inspiration to achieve it (I don’t know what I’d do without Google Images and Pinterest).

Today is my littlest’s second birthday so I thought it would be a good time to share with you the recipe I use for making the vanilla sponge which goes inside most of the cakes I make for my family.  The recipe is adapted from a book called Cake Magic by Virginia Welsh and Alison French – the same book I chose my cakes from when I was little.

The theme I was given for today’s cake was Chuggington. I was told it must include an engine shed, three trains (Wilson, Koko and Brewster), and a turntable (they don’t ask for much!). I’m not a professional cake decorator, but what I lack in skill I hopefully make up for in enthusiasm and effort. Here’s what I managed…

Chuggington cake. Birthday cake for a two year old.

If you want to take a look at the other cakes I’ve made for friends and family then visit my cake gallery.

Recommended Equipment

To make my vanilla sponge I’d recommend the following equipment…

Accurate scales are essential when baking and I love these Electronic Scales from Salter. You can reset the weight every time you add a new ingredient which is perfect for something like this all-in-one sponge. They’re also compact so take up hardly any space in your cupboards.

If I’m making a round cake I use these tins from Delia Smith (well if it’s good enough for Delia then it’s good enough for me!).

Instead of using greaseproof paper to line your cake tins I recommend trying these Bake-o-Glide reusable liners. There’s no need to to grease the tin as they’re easily removed, and they’re pre-cut to size so there’s no fiddling around trying to get the greaseproof cut to the right shape.

You’ll also need a large mixing bowl and an electric mixer (you can mix by hand if you don’t have a mixer just be prepared for some arm ache!).


Fancy making a chocolate birthday cake instead?

Then try my new CHOCOLATE BIRTHDAY CAKE RECIPE, it’s really chocolatey, easy to make and perfect for decorating.

Chocolate-Birthday-Cake-9


Birthday Cake (All-in-one vanilla sponge)

Active Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

SERVES 12

Birthday Cake (All-in-one vanilla sponge)

Adapted from Cake Magic by Virginia Welsh and Alison French

Ingredients

  • 225g Self-Raising Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 4 Eggs
  • 225g Soft Margarine
  • 225g Caster Sugar
  • 6 drops Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tsp Milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/140ºC fan
  2. Line your baking tray(s) (I usually use 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins or a 20cm x 30cm rectangular tin, depending on the shape of cake I want to make).
  3. Sift the self-raising flour (225g) and baking powder (2 tsp) into a large bowl.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients (4 eggs, 225g soft margarine, 225g caster sugar, 6 drops of vanilla extract and 2 tsp milk) and beat until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Pour into the tin(s)
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. To check if the cake is cooked insert a skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is ready.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin(s) for about 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely - Make sure the cake has cooled completely before decorating.

Notes

If you would like to make this cake in a different size then you can find the ingredients you need here, along with the answers to other FAQs about this recipe.

If you'd like to make your own buttercream to fill and cover the cake you can find my recipe here.

http://charlotteslivelykitchen.com/birthday-cake-all-in-one-vanilla-sponge/

Watch a video of this recipe

I’ve shared a video of this recipe showing just how simple it is to make over on my You Tube channel…

The Nutritional Information per serving* for the sponge cake is…

Birthday Cake Nutrition


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com   #CookBlogShare


* This is the estimated nutritional information per portion including the nutrition as a percentage of an adult’s reference intake. This is for the sponge cake only so doesn’t include the jam or icing. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you want to learn more about how this is calculated.

295 Comments:

  1. charlotte u r so talented. i also like how u label fat and sugar contents.
    i liked the curry recipe too.
    i like the way u do yr research too
    this cake is amazing
    u have a good eye for detail
    i don’t alway’s comment but i like to keep up with what yr doing next xx.

    • Thanks Jean, I’m so glad you like the blog and it means a lot to me that you keep coming back to see what I’ve been up to xx

      • Hi Charlotte. I would like to make a rectangle cake for my sons 1st birthday. TheAll in one is great and I have seen quantities for this shape on your site. How would you suggest I decorate re icing? As your all in one does not mention step by step for this and I would love some guidance …. 🙂 thanks

        • Hi Charlotte. What type of icing are you planning on doing? Fondant, buttercream or something else?

          • Probably fondant. What would be easier?
            Thanks 🙂

          • Personally I like to use fondant as it’s much easier to get the cake looking how I want. I also put a layer of buttercream underneath as I prefer the flavour of buttercream and it also helps get the fondant smooth.

            If you decide to put buttercream underneath, let it set a bit before adding the fondant. Make sure you roll your fondant out bigger than the size of your cake as it’s far easier to get it neat around the bottom. Once it’s rolled out place it loosely on top of the cake and work your way around the cake carefully lifting the bottom and the smoothing it down around the side of the cake with your hand, you want to try and avoid creasing it. Once it’s flat on the cake, trim the bottom with a sharp knife. I sometimes find I have some bits that are a bit rougher looking than I’d like, that’s where carefully positioned decorations come in!

            If you decide to go for buttercream it’s best to use two coats. Do a thin layer, let that harden and then put a thicker layer on top. The thin layer underneath should help prevent you getting crumbs in the top layer and therefore help you to get a smoother finish.

            If you’re not too sure what you’re doing the I’d really recommend watching some tutorials on You Tube, seeing someone demonstrate these things is so much better than just reading it.

      • Hi Charlotte,

        I would love to try your recipe for my daughters birthday cake, can I use butter instead of margarine?

        • Charlotte Oates

          Yes you can, just make sure you take it out of the fridge a bit before you want to use it to let it soften.

  2. Charlotte, your cake looks amazing! I am so impressed. I have never done anything like this and I think I would be too scared. Great suggestion for the scales. I have the same ones and I wouldn’t get anything else. They are perfect!

    • Thanks Mel, I’m glad you liked it.

      The scales are great aren’t they, mine get very well used. I liked mine so much I bought my Mum some too!

  3. That looks amazing! I must admit I have no patience (or skills) to create anything like this and so my hat off to you… My son would love something like this. Thanks for linking to #CookBlogShare

    • Thanks Lucy. It took me about 7 hours (including making the cake) so a lot of patience needed. Most of the time when I’m decorating a cake I want to give up about halfway through when something’s just not looking like it should, the thought of my boys seeing the cake on their birthday keeps me persevering.

  4. Wow that cake looks amazing! You cant beat a good simple sponge for cakes like that, great informative post 🙂 #tastytuesdays

    • Thanks Caroline

      I agree birthday cakes are best with a simple sponge. It’s great for carving up to make shaped cakes too.

      • I looked and looked for birthday cake recipes for 3 days and stopped at yours , as it sounded like the sponge I make and I know it already. Fingers crossed they re in the oven
        I used food colouring too as my son likes red cakes 🙂

  5. That looks totally amazing, well done! I bet the boys were impressed

    • Thank you Alison.

      My two year old recognised the characters which made it worthwhile (he was more excited about eating the cake though. I think he would have been happy if I’d left it plain as long as he could eat it!)

  6. Your cake is gorgeous, it’s so accomplished, wow! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays

  7. hi Charlotte
    I wanted to make a larger cake 10″
    Can you give the ingredients for larger sizes please?
    PS This looks fantastic!!!
    Have you done a rainbow/marble effect sponge?

    • Hi Preeti,

      I’ve not made this as a 10″ round cake as we only have small family parties so we don’t need too much! However, I’ve just done some sums and these quantities should work…

      400g self-raising flour
      3.5 tsp baking powder
      7 eggs
      400g soft margarine
      400g caster sugar
      3.5 tsp milk
      10 drop vanilla extract.

      Unfortunately I’ve not tried this as a rainbow/marble effect (although now you’ve mentioned it I want to give it a try).

      I hope this helps x

      • Hi, I love this recipe and have made it lots for birthdays. I’m looking to do a 2 tier next time, how would I do the measurements for a smaller one?
        Thanks.

        • Hi Jenny. What sizes do you want your tiers? If you let me know then I’ll work out the measurements for you x

          • I was thinking the 8 inch for bottom and 6 inch for the top.
            Thank you. It’s for a princess cake

          • Charlotte Oates

            Hi Jenny. For the 6″ cake you’ll need half the ingredients of the 8″… 115g self raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 eggs, 115g margarine, 115g caster sugar, 3 drop vanilla extract and 1 tsp milk.

      • Hi is this for both layers or would I need double this for 2 layers.?

  8. Hi Charlotte,
    This looks great – do you have any recommended ingredients/recipe for the buttercream filling?

  9. I am just making it and wonder what it will be like
    I doubled the mixture but used a bit more milk by mistake
    Then devised and mixed food colouring in one
    They re in the oven and I m so nervous !

    • I’ve not tried it with extra milk so I’m not sure how it will turn out for you but I hope it’s OK. Let me know how it goes x

  10. What do you suggest inside please
    Whipped double cream and strawberry jam or butter cream ( which I don’t know how to make ) thx

    • I usually use jam and buttercream (you can find instructions to make it here). As I decorate the cakes they’re made a day or two in advance and I find buttercream keeps much better. It would also work well will jam and whipped cream if you prefer, but I’d add this in the day you plan on serving it.

      • My 2 8″tins won’t fit side by side on my middle shelf how would you suggest I bake them

        • Either make 2 lots of batter and cook them separately, or put one above the other on separate shelves. If you take the second option you’ll probably find that the bottom one takes a little longer to cook than the one at the top.

  11. Thank you for your recipe. I used it to make my son’s birthday cake yesterday. We have just had a piece and it is delicious, nice and light and goes well with the icing. It was my first ever attempt at using rolled icing on a cake. He wanted a Football Shirt. My days of just using buttercream or ganache are over.

    • Thanks Aileen. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I have to say I prefer the flavour of buttercream or ganache but I love how creative I can be with fondant.

  12. Hi there.
    I would like to use your recipe for a birthday cake, but need it to serve up to 20 people. Please could you advise what size tin I should use and how I should adapt the recipe?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Melissa, are you hoping to make a round cake or rectangular? How many layers would you like?

      • Hi Charlotte, thanks for the quick response! I would like it to be round and 3 layers. I am attempting a piñata cake!! Fingers crossed!!

        • Hi Melissa,

          It’s a bit tricky with a piñata cake as it depends how much sponge you remove from the centre, it also depends whether you’re feeding young children (who only need a small slice) or adult who may want something a bit more generous.

          With a 20cm cake tin each person could have a slice about 3cm wide (at it’s widest point) which given it’s 3 layers I’d imagine should be plenty for everyone to have a decent sized slice. If you’re unsure if that would be enough then you could go up to a 25cm tin which would give everyone a slice 4cm wide (at it’s widest point) which I’m sure would be plenty.

          If you decide to go for the 3 layer 20cm cake then simply multiply all of the measurements by 1.5…

          335g self raising flour
          3 tsp baking powder
          6 eggs
          335g soft margarine
          335g caster sugar
          9 drop vanilla extract
          3 tsp milk

          If you decide to go for the larger 3 layer 25cm cake you’ll need…

          500g self-raising flour
          4 tsp baking powder
          9 eggs
          500g soft margarine
          500g caster sugar
          14 drop vanilla extract
          4 tsp milk

          I hope this helps x

          • Fantastic!! Thank you! Do I need to increase the baking time also?
            Thanks 🙂

          • The baking time should be fine as the layers are the same thickness. Check it with a skewer at the end of the suggested time and you can always pop it back in for a couple more minutes of it’s not quite done.

  13. Hi Charlotte, love the cake, I’m not a baker and this will be my first attempt for my daughters 1st birthday. What brand of margarine and flour did you use?

    • Thanks Cheryl. I use stork margarine and whatever flour I happen to have in the cupboard (usually tesco own brand).

  14. Hi Charlotte,
    Sorry if this question has already been asked but can you use butter instead of margarine or would margarine be the better option?
    Thanks. x

    • Hi Ellie, I’ve always made it with margarine but it should work fine with butter. Just make sure you take it out if the fridge before you want to use it so that it is soft.

      • Thanks. Used margarine and unveiled the cake today decorated with green icing and a gruffallo cake topper I made with fondant icing for my sons 3rd birthday using jam and your butter cream icing as the filing. It was YUM!!!! Thank you so much for posting the recipe. Has given me a new found cake making confidence 😉

  15. Hi Charlotte. I’m making a large rectangular cake today. I have 2 x 21cm square tins which I’ll be doubling up on. So any ideas on quantities for a 21 X 42cm cake?

    • Hi Keeley. To make a cake 21x42cm you’ll need roughly 1.5 times the ingredients listed. If you have a look at my reply to Melissa above you’ll see the measurements for 1.5x (they start with 335g self raising flour). I hope this helps and that you enjoy the cake.

  16. Hi Charlotte, Just tried your sponge recipe and it was delicious the only problem I had was with the ready made fondant I covered it with, as it felt quite sticky, never had this problem before any ideas????

    • Hi Ally, I’m really glad you liked the sponge.

      If I find my fondant getting sticky (if I overwork it or add a lot of food colouring) then I’ll sprinkle over some icing sugar and that makes it much easier to work with.

  17. Thanks Charlotte, I am trying a 10″ with your recipe so fingers crossed that it tastes as good as the 8″, I totally messed up the buttercream with my last bake by adding too much milk which made it runny, not going to make that mistake again. Thanks again for a great recipe for a great tasting sponge.

    • Thanks Ally,

      I hope the 10″ goes well. Don’t be surprised if it takes a little longer to cook, check it at the usual time and then pop it back in for a bit longer if it needs it.

      I’ve made that mistake with buttercream before too. I was in a hurry so used it anyway and it dripped off the cake into a big puddle at the bottom ( still tasted good though!). I hope your next batch goes better.

  18. Hi, I’ve stumbled across your page and I’m definitely going to try your sponge for my daughters birthday cake which I am tempting to do this week for her party. Can I ask a couple of questions as this is my first time in making her cake.
    1/ how far in advance can I make the sponge her party is on Sunday?
    2. after the filling do you crumb coat it before putting the fondant icing on?

    Many thanks

    • Hi Michelle, I usually bake the cake two days before and then decorate it the day before. However, we usually have some left over and it still tastes good a few days later so you’d be fine to make it a little earlier if you wanted. If you want to bake the sponge further in advance you could wrap it in cling film and freeze it until it’s needed.

      I always put a decent layer of buttercream underneath the fondant. It helps to get the fondant smooth and it adds to the flavour of the cake too.

  19. thank you for you help Charlotte will give it a go.

  20. Thanks for this recipe. I’ve just done a trial run for my daughters birthday and it’s yummy! Easy to make too!
    Thanks again.

  21. Hi Charlotte, I’ve been searching the internet for a birthday cake recipe and came across yours.. My daughter has never asked me to bake her birthday cake before so its very new to me (I’m limited to victoria sponge !), she’s 7 and has asked for a frozen cake (I’m cheating slightly with the frozen theme.) I tried a Madeira cake recipe but it turned out heavy and didn’t rise as I expected. Can you tell me what the ingredients should be for a 9inch round tin (I don’t have anything else), and can you use one tin and cut it in half or is it better using two tins.
    Thank you in advance

    • Hi Wendy,

      Personally I’d use two tins rather than putting it all into one deep tin but I’ve never actually tried it in one deep tin so it could work. It may not rise as well and may take longer to cook through if you do.

      For a 9″ cake you’ll need…

      280g self-raising flour
      2.5 tsp baking powder
      5 eggs
      280g soft margarine
      280g caster sugar
      8 drop vanilla extract
      2.5 tsp milk

      I hope that helps

  22. Hi Charlotte! I’m planning on making this tomorrow. I am a lil bit confused, is the recipe made for one layer or two layers? And how thick the batter should fill the tin? Should i multiply the recipe by 2 if i am making a two layers cake or the recipe was already made for 2 layers cake? Thank you before!

    • Hi Natasha, what shape of cake are you making? The recipe is for two 20cm round tins or one rectangular tin 20cmx30cm (this single layer will be thicker than the two round layers).

  23. Hi Charlotte,
    Thank you so much for this recipe. I just wanted to ask if you know the quantities for the buttercream filling and icing required for a 25cm round cake?
    Many thanks in advance,
    Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie,

      I estimate you’ll need about 1.4x the amount of buttercream than you would use for a 20cm cake. That would be 350g unsalted butter, 700g icing sugar and 3/4 tsp vanilla extract. This would give you enough icing to fill the cake and also to have a layer around the outside to help you to get the fondant to stick to the cake and make it nice and smooth. If you only want a layer in the middle rather than all around the outside then you’ll 100g butter, 200g icing sugar and 1/4 tsp vanilla.

      I’m terrible at estimating the amount of fondant icing needed as I’d always want too much (I then use the offcuts for covering the board and all the extra details). For a 25cm cake I’d definitely use 2 large packs of fondant, but I’d expect to have some spare.

      I hope that helps.

  24. Hi Charlotte your recipe sound’s amazing and i would love to make it for my 9month old son and i was wondering could i substitute the caster sugar or leave it out altogether please ket me know as i want to make it today and just to say your very takented and inspirational thank you for sharing

    • I’ve never tried it without the sugar so I’m not too sure. I suspect the recipe will still work but it may effect how well it rises. I’m also not sure how good it will taste!

  25. Hi Charlotte. Loved loved LOVED this recipe for my two year olds birthday cake. Thanks muchly!
    I’m looking for a similar chocolate version with chocolate butter cream (your vanilla butter cream was dreamy!) Can you advise if it would be easy to swap some ingredients to make a choc version? V new to baking so no idea if this would work! Thanks so much Nicky

    • Hi Nicky, I’m so glad you liked the cake and the buttercream 🙂

      I’ve not tried what you’re suggesting with the chocolate cake, but I’ve never seen a chocolate cake recipe that simply adds cocoa to a traditional sponge, there’s always more adjustments to ingredients so I’m not sure it would work. I’d absolutely love to be able to recommend you an alternative chocolate cake recipe but I’m really fussy when it comes to chocolate cake and I’ve not yet found the perfect one. I’m working on it at the moment and I’ll add a link into this recipe just as soon as it’s perfected so keep an eye out.

  26. Hi Charlotte, I’m a complete novice when it comes to baking but have decided to make my daughter’s birthday cake for the first time! I have a 12″ square cake tin. What amounts will I need for the sponge? How much buttercream will I need for the middle layer and in between the sponge and icing? Thank you! This recipe has had such positive reviews, I can’t wait to try it.

    • Hi Sarah,

      This cake is great for novices as it’s really a case of chucking everything in and giving it a good mix!

      For a 12″ square 2-layer cake you’ll need 3x the ingredients listed in the recipe. Do you have 2 tins? If not then I’d suggest making 2 batches (each with 1.5x the ingredients and cook them separately (don’t mix all the batter and then leave half sitting around as the baking powder will start to work before it goes into the oven and it won’t rise properly), the batter only takes a few minutes to make so it shouldn’t be too much more work to do it that way if you need to.

      For the buttercream, I’d suggest making 4x the quantities listed in my buttercream recipe.

      I hope this helps and I hope you enjoy the cake (12″ square is pretty big so you’ll need to!)

  27. Hi Charlotte,

    Just used your recipe. Cake is baking now!!
    Looking good so far!!

  28. Hi Charlotte,

    I tried the cake today using a 24 cm square tin and it sank in the middle, please advice on how i can fix it for next time. And whats the alternative method when using cake flour instead of self-raising flour and, can i use normal granulated sugar instead of castor sugar?

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Nellvecia. I’m sorry to hear the cake sank in the middle, I’m not too sure why that would have happened as I’ve never had that problem with it, but there’s a few ideas in this post which might help. I’ve not made this cake using cake flour as it’s not readily available in the UK, however a bit of googling suggests that for every 100g of flour you’re using you’d need to add an additional 1.4 tsp of baking powder. Again, I’ve not tried it with granulated sugar. I suspect it would work and if you want to increase your chances of it working successfully you could give the sugar a quick pulse in a food processor to make it a little finer.

      I hope this helps.

  29. hi is tsp used for teaspoon or tablespoon.thanks

  30. Hi. I came across your page looking to make birthday cakes. My son’s 1st birthday is in a few weeks and he’s allergy to wheat and egg. Was wondering would ur recipe work if i used a wheat free flour? Any idea how I could subsitude the egg?

    • Charlotte Oates

      It should work with GF flour but I’ve no idea about the eggs. I do however know some fabulous free-free bloggers so I’ll ask them for suggestions and get back to you. Leave it with me x

  31. Brilliant thanks I’m new to all this allergies stuff finding it hard to get a mix that will work

  32. Hi I’ve just made the cakes and was about to add the buttercream round middle and sides but foolishly have not got enough butter so will have to do that tomorrow. Is it best to wrap separate layers in cling film and then fridge it? X

    • Charlotte Oates

      Yes, make sure you’ve got something separating the layers otherwise they stick together. I usually put a sheet of greaseproof between the layers but clingfilm will work just as well. You don’t have to put it in the fridge, it would be fine in an airtight container on the side of you have one but it will be fine in the fridge too.

  33. Awww thank you. Feel like I have a personal chef helping me out. It’s anything but smooth but v excited about it x it’s for my daughter’s first birthday on Sunday x

    • Any tips for applying the fondant icing. I’ve got no smoothing tool or turntable to use and buttercream looks quite rough and fairly thick, oops. My 3 year old desperate to add some sprinkles to it but I’m guessing they won’t stick? X

      • Charlotte Oates

        I assume you’ve got a rolling pin, in which case you could put your fondant over the top of the cake and then gently roll that over to smooth it out a bit, then use your decoration to cover any leftover lumps 🙂

        If you want to add sprinkles on top
        of the fondant mix a little icing sugar with some cold water until it’s a gloopy consistency and then put that thinly on the cake. The sprinkles should then stick.

        Lastly don’t worry if it not 100% perfect your daughter will still love it, especially that fact that you’ve made the effort to make it for her. I once made buttercream for my son’s cake in too much of a hurry and added too much milk so it literally ran off the cake. He still loved it and proudly blew out the candles x

  34. Cake was a big success, even though my icing certainly needs practise! !! Thank you for all of your help x

  35. I have read through all these posts and am amazed at your patience and kindness Charlotte . i would like some advice please . i have been asked to make a cake with jam and buttercream filling at the retirement of the music director at our church. and to decorate it with some musical symbols. I have an aversion to fondant icing and I’m wondering if I could put a thin layer of icing on top of the cake and make chocolate shapes separately to put on top of that ? would I need to put something under the icing ? could I freeze the whole thing already made up ?
    thank you

    • If you just want to use buttercream icing then I’d suggest putting a thin layer over the cake, chilling it for an hour or so and then adding another layer (this helps to avoid getting crumbs in the final layer). You can then pop decorations on top.

      You can freeze the sponge cakes before icing them but I wouldn’t freeze everything after decorating.

      I’m not hugely keen on the taste of fondant so I put a nice thick layer of buttercream underneath and just eat that instead (the fondant is just there for decoration!)

  36. Hi Charlotte just searching for a cake recipe for my nephew’s cake that I have been asked to make. I have just come across your recipe and intend to make a taster today. However I have been asked to produce a 2 tier Olaf cake. Would this cake be suitable. Can you give me any idea of which size tins I would need for each tier.

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Jackie, I’ve not made a 2-tier cake with it before (as my parties aren’t usually big enough) so I’ve not tested it. It’s quite a oft sponge so if you are going to try it you should use some sort of support in the lower tier (dowling or strong straws) and put the top tier on one of those cardboard cake boards of the same size as the cake so that the fat from the top tier doesn’t seep into the fondant covering the bottom layer.

      With regard to size it really depends on how many people it needs to feed and what you’re trying to fit into it. If you let me know how many people then I can give you a better idea of the right sizes.

      I hope that helps and good luck with the cake x

  37. I used this recipe for a friends birthday cake the sponge was amazing but she want royal icing on it and I hadnt done it before and it came out more like uncooked meringe, any tips for this?

    Thank you

  38. Rebecca Maclean

    Hi,
    I was nervous about making my son’s Lego birthday cake because I couldn’t find a recipe for the size tin I hired. As an enthusiastic but inexperienced baker I was worried about being embarrassed when I presented it at his party. Your recipe has proven to be outstanding. Easy to make and I am proud to say I now have 3 identical rectangular cakes. Now I just need to have the same results from my first attempt at using fondant icing…
    Thanks for your great recipe.

  39. Hi Charlotte, I used your recipe for my son’s birthday cake which I made a day in advance and everyone really enjoyed it. The flavour was lovely but it came out a bit dry. I followed the recipe exactly so I’m not sure what happened. I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to get it more moist without messing it up. Like adding some yogurt or something? Thank you so much, it does taste lovely despite the dryness.

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Lynika, I’m surprised by your comment as I’ve never personally found it dry. It could be that your oven is a little hotter than mine (you’d think they should all be the same but annoying they can differ) in which case you could try cooking it at a slightly lower temperature or removing it slightly earlier. Alternatively if your cake is a bit dry then you could add more butter as the additional fat should help to make it more moist. I hope that helps.

      • Hi Charlotte, made your recipe again for a birthday this weekend and it was absolutely gorgeous. I’m guessing you were right, it probably was my oven. Thank you loads.

        • Charlotte Oates

          That’s good to hear (although not so much about your oven, I hope it’s cooking everything else OK).

    • Thank you Charlotte, so sorry I never got back to you. I really thought I had replied, it slipped my mind. I’m going to try the recipe again this weekend in another oven, will let you know how it goes.

      Thank you loads

  40. Hi, I made half of this last night as a trial run and it sank in the middle and seemed pretty greasy. I live in the states and I’m wondering if the margarine here is different to home? Have you any ideas which might help me? Baking is not my strong point! Thank you.

    • Charlotte Oates

      It could well be the difference in the margarine as different makes have different fat content. Perhaps try using room temperature butter instead and see if that gives a better result.

  41. Please can i use all purpose flour instead of self raising flour, and how many teaspoon is 14 drops of vanilla extract?

    • Hi Kassy. You can’t simply substitute all purpose flour for self raising as it wouldn’t rise properly. Nigella suggests you can convert all purpose flour to self-raising by adding an additional 2 tsp of baking powder per 150g flour you’re using. However, I’ve not tested it to see how well it works. 14 drops of vanilla extract is about 1/4 tsp.

      I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions.

  42. Hi Charlotte, I’ve just been reading through your comments and wondered if you could help me 🙂 I’m making a 12inch x 8inch cake, what would the mixture be for this please? I’ve tried to have a look back in the previous mags but can’t seem to find one that fits my cake tin. And also, how much buttercream am I to use? Thanks lots Emma. Ps I’m baking the cake today for decorating tomorrow.. Party is on Saturday, thanks

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Emma, I’m really sorry for the late reply I’ve only just noticed your comment. I hope the party has gone well and you managed to get the cake sorted. For future reference, to make the cake size mentioned the ingredients listed in the recipe would make one layer. so if you wanted two layers then double them.

  43. Hi charlotte. I was looking for a recipe to make my son’s birthday cake and yours was simply amazing had a practice last week baking a 8 inch. How much ingredients would I need for 12 inch many thanks.

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Helen,

      To make a 12″ version you’ll need 2.25x the ingredients… 500g self raising flour, 4.5 tsp baking powder, 9 eggs, 500g margarine, 500g caster sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 4.5 tsp milk.

      I hope that helps.

      • Thanks for your reply. Do I cook at the same temperature and how long should I bake the cake for thanks

        • I’ve not made that exact size before but when I’ve made a 9″x12″ rectangular cake I cooked it for exactly the same amount of time. It should be fine to check it after 30 minutes and then pop it back in for a little longer if it’s not quite done.

          • Hi charlotte. I’m going to stick to the 8″ with a 6 ” on top what size eggs should I use and by the way the butter cream is lovely.

          • This is probably totally the wrong thing to say and many cooks would frown, but I just use whatever eggs I’ve got in the fridge (medium or large) and it always turns out well. I’m glad you like the buttercream.

  44. Hi Charlotte just made my cakes but not quite level any suggestion to help them rise level.

    Thankyou

    • Charlotte Oates

      I suspect your oven temperature isn’t even throughout. Unfortunately I don’t have a solution to that except for a bit of clever use of buttercream or slicing the top of the cake to make it level.

  45. Christine Campbell

    Hi Charlotte, I have just made this cake as it looked gorgeous but although it is cooked it seems to have sunk a little in the middle. I am sure that once it’s iced and finished it will be hidden but no idea why it has done that and it took much longer to cook, strange but hope it tastes ok 🙂 x

    • Charlotte Oates

      I suspect that the reason it sank in the middle is because of the fact it took longer to cook (if you open the door before a cake is pretty much done then it will sink). I’ve no idea why it would have taken longer though. The only thought I have is that perhaps your oven is set to a slightly lower temperature (they all seem to vary which is daft!) or if you used a different shape/size of tin. Hopefully a decent layer of buttercream will hide it x

      • Christine Campbell

        That’s my plan a bit extra buttercream and maybe turn the cakes upside down x

        • Christine Campbell

          Sorry Charlotte I never got back to you the cake was delish and very well received. I just popped a little extra buttercream and hey presto it was great. I was going to post you a pic but can’t see how to do that ! x

  46. Hi Charlotte, I have read your blog and created your perfect recipe. Everyone loved and it has been a huge hit. I am now needing to create a rectangle shape sized 18cm-26cm. Would you be able to help me convert the recipe to the correct amounts please? P.s your blog is amazing!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Steph. To make a cake 18cmx26cm you’ll need 1.5x the ingredients of the original recipe (assuming you’re making 2 layers of sponge)…

      340g self-raising flour
      340g margerine
      340g caster sugar
      6 eggs
      3 tsp baking powder
      9 drops vanilla extract
      3 tsp milk

  47. Hi Charlotte
    Your blog is fab.
    I’m just in the process of trying out your recipe only to find that my baking tins are 22cm. I’m trying it out using the 8inch recipe but wondering if I should have gone for the 9inch instead???
    Also my mixture was quite thick. What consistency should it be?

    • Charlotte Oates

      Personally I would use the 9″ recipe for your 22cm tin (so 1.25x the ingredients listed in my original recipe) as that’s much closer in size to your tin. The mixture is sort of gloopy, just about pourable but not too runny. I hope that helps

  48. Thanks
    I’ll try it next time with the 9″ recipe.
    I had to spread my mixture with a spatula in the tin so sounds like it was too thick. Nevermind. Cakes all done now ready for a babyshower today. Fingers crossed it tastes ok.

    • Charlotte Oates

      I hope the cake tasted yummy! Next time maybe add a little extra milk to thin the mixture slightly.

    • Hi Charlotte I love your recipe for the all in one birthday cake have made it twice in an two 8 ins tins and it turned out brilliant .I have been asked to make a christening cake I am looking at using two 10ins tins could you help with how much ingredients and oven temp and how long to cook it for please thank you

      • Hi Cynthia. If you put your tin dimensions into my calculator it will give you the ingredients you need. Keep to the same oven temperature and as long as the tins you’re using are the same depth as the ones you’ve used before you shouldn’t need any adjustment to the cooking time. I hope that helps.

      • Hi Charlotte. Thank you for your help please can you send me t.be link again for your calculator as I have managed to delete it sorry. .I must say your cake recipe is brilliant thank you

  49. Cake was a big hit. Thank you

  50. Hello Charlotte,

    This cake was amazing, thank you. I attempted my first ever birthday cake for my son’s 3rd birthday and I was really pleased. I also used the buttercream recipe which was also lovely. Unfortunately, I then attempted to use fondant icing to cover it … that wasn’t quite so easy!
    I was wondering, how would you make this a chocolate sponge? What measurements would you use? How do you also make the buttercream chocolate flavoured? Cocoa or melted chocolate?

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Melissa, sadly fondant takes a bit of practice, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. The secret is to hide any iffy bits behind some decoration so nobody notices!

      Unfortunately I’m still on a mission to find the perfect chocolate sponge – I’m really fussy about it! Same with the buttercream, although if you like Nutella I’ve just published a Nutella buttercream which I absolutely adore.

  51. Hiya Charlotte, I am doing my first ever 2 tier birthday cake. I have a size 26cm for the bottom and size 20cm for the top. Could you please give me the measurements I need to do them

  52. Hi Charlotte, I have read the comments but I couldn’t see if anyone has asked how did you do the icing.. I don’t like Marzipan.. what did you do please? Sorry if this has been repeated. Thanks

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Dani, the cake in the top picture is my birthday present cake. I’ve written a tutorial for how to make it here. The blue is just fondant icing colour with a blue gel food colouring (you can also buy ready-coloured fondant if you prefer too). I’m personally not a huge fan of the taste of fondant icing so I make sure there’s a decent layer of buttercream underneath for flavour and then the fondant is just there for decoration!

  53. Hi charlottle hope your well i tried your reciepe and it was fab thankyou. I am making a 12inch square cake for tomorrow what will the reciepe be for this please im baking it twice as i need 4 layers so each sponge im going to cut into half please help i will be baking tonight xx

  54. Thanks so much xx

  55. Hi charlotte managed to get the demensions in lol tha kyou hope the cake turns out good its in the oven xx

  56. Hi I just made this sponge to attempt a birthday cake and it it came out so light and fluffy it was impossible to handle to decorate. Can you maybe guide me as to where I went wrong. Thank you

    • Charlotte Oates

      It is quite a light cake but shouldn’t be so fluffy that it’s tricky to decorate. The only ideas I have as to what’s happened are that I usually decorate my cakes the day after baking which gives them a little time to firm up, if you tried to decorate them as soon as they’ve cooled they may be a little tricker to handle. Alternatively if you added a little more milk than you should, this tends to make cakes lighter.

  57. Daniella Corazza

    Charlotte, do you need to use baking powder?

    • Charlotte Oates

      Is there any particular reason you don’t want to use it? The recipe would still work but the cake wouldn’t rise as well so would end up shorter and may well be slightly denser too.

  58. Just to let you know, I found your recipe through googling ‘easy cake recipe for 20cm tin’ as I am not a baker. I used your exact recipe for my daughter’s 3rd birthday – an Elsa Cake. I am a nervous baker and your recipe was straight forward and produced a perfect result! It has even given me more confidence in baking … I’ve just made it again for my husband’s birthday! Thank you.

  59. Used this cake with the butter cream recipe for my sons first birthday cake this week . Very easy, absolutely delicious. This will be my go to cake from now on….many birthdays to go!!
    Thanks

  60. Hi Charlotte, I am planning to make a birthday cake for my son this Sat and have finally come to the decision on following your receipe after two days of searching on the internet. My pan size is 33×22.9x5cm /(13x9x2in) could you give me a idea of the quantity of the ingredients. Planning to bake tomorrow

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Liza, if you pop the dimensions into my calculator then it’ll tell you what ingredients you need for your tin. As it’s quite a shallow tin, just enter 1 for the number of layers (unless of course you’re using multiple tins, in which case however many you’re using).

  61. Hi Charlotte, I have tried making a square cake which is 14″ x 14″ (which is massive!) and used your calculator to work out the quantities. I was unclear though whether I should lower the temperature and increase the baking time (I have an electric fan oven). The edges of the cake seemed good but the middle seems to have sunk. Is there a maximum size where this recipes doesn’t work so well? Could you let me know what temperature and how long I should bake the cake for?

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Caroline. That’s quite a bit bigger than the largest size I’ve attempted with this recipe so I’m not 100% sure. What cakes of that size are cooked they are usually cooked at a lower temperature for longer (to stop the edges burning before the centre is cooked). You could try cooking it at 130C fan and check it after about 45 minutes.

  62. Thank you for the recipe Charlotte! I baked it for my son’s 1st birthday and it became a hit that my husband wants me to bake for him a week after.. Look like I’ll be using this recipe for years.. It’s easy to follow and definitely turns out to be one of my best

  63. I have baked this cake three times now. It’s most definitely my go to birthday cake! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe 🙂

  64. Thank you so much Charlotte!!!

    I tested this recipe before my sons actual birthday and everyone loved it! Best sponge ever! I’m now going to make a four tier cake using your recipe, just wanted to say thank you so much! This recipe will be in my folder until I die!

  65. Hi charlotte
    I’m making a 8inch all in one cake and and 12inch all in one cake and I confused to how much ingredients to use for each cake could you help me please?

  66. Hi Charlotte
    I’m making my daughter a barbie cake and am using a 24cm bundt pan – could u please help me with quantities Thank you

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’ve not tried this particular cake in a bundt tin so I’m not sure how well it will come out (give then unusual shape of the tin). If you give it a go then make sure your tin is well greased before you add the cake mixture. When would you need quantities by, I’m happy to try and work them. Out for you but won’t be able to do it for a few days.

  67. Hi there

    I am using a 20cm tin and have put all the mixture in it. Was this wrong? I have cooked for 35 mins on 140c as fan oven but its very wobbly and runny when i skewered it! What have i done wrong?

    • Charlotte Oates

      I usually split the mixture between two sandwich tins so it cooks in 30-35 minutes. You can make it in one deep tin but the extra depth means that it’ll take a lot longer. I’d check it after 45 minutes instead. If you try texting it too early them it may end up sinking in the middle.

  68. Hi,

    Its a very nice recipe, but just now my cake collapsed 🙁
    Is it maybe because I have buttered the sides??

    Regards Danielle

    • Hmm, I’m not too sure why that would have happened. Usually it happens if the cake is checked too early and not set enough in the centre, I’ve not known it to happen from buttering the tin.

  69. Hi Charlotte
    I am making an 8″ and 10″ tier cake for my sons birthday. If I use round tins rather than 2 sandwich tins for both what would the measurements and cooking times be? Or should I stick to sandwich tins? Thank you

    • Charlotte Oates

      Personally I’ve always used sandwich tins but you can use single round tins instead if that’s what you have. If you use my calculator (link below the recipe) then simply put in 2 layers and that will give you the right quantities for a single tin. Using single tins will take longer to cook, I’d check it after 45 minutes and then pop it back in for a bit longer if needed. If you check it after the 30 minutes recommended in the recipe for sandwich tins then it won’t be nearly set enough in the centre and is therefore quite likely to collapse when you take it out of the oven.

  70. If I put all of the mixture into a 10″ round tin rather than 2 sandwich tins how much longer would it need? Thank you

    • Charlotte Oates

      It will take quite a bit longer to cook in a single tin, I’d put it in for 45 minutes before testing to see if it’s done.

  71. Hi Charlotte,

    I also use this recipe to bake with, however I’m doing it in one 8″ but deep tin. Last time I tried it I googled and it said to cook for longer on a lower heat. Is this correct? It seemed to take ages ( maybe over an hour ) and I’m not sure it was 100% done even then! Should the oven be on the same temperature as cooking in 2 tins?

    Thanks!

    • This cake is already made at a pretty low temperature so if I’m using a deep tin I still keep it the same. It will take a lot longer to cook though, I’d test it after 45 minutes rather than the 30 minutes suggested when it’s split between two tins.

  72. Please I need recipe for a rectangular cake of 14″x12″ that is 4″deep.

    • You can get the quantities you need from my calculator. For a deep cake simply use the quantities for 2 layers in one tin. A deep cake will take longer to cook so I’d suggest checking it after 45 minutes rather than the 30 recommended in the recipe.

  73. Lovely recipe!
    I was wondering if you can use oil instead of butter? If so, how much do I use?
    Thanks.

    • I;ve never tried substituting oil for butter but in other cake recipes I’ve made using oil I’ve found they have quite a different texture so I’m not convinced it would work as a simple swap. Is there any particular reason you want to switch out the butter? If it’s to avoid dairy then a dairy-free spread such as vitalite should work OK.

  74. Hi Charlotte,

    According to your cake process explained, Does it mean I do not have to go through the process of creaming the butter and sugar before adding other ingredients? Because you said *Sift the self-raising flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
    * Add the remaining ingredients (eggs,soft margarine,caster sugar,vanilla extract and milk) and beat until thoroughly mixed.
    If i do not need to cream my butter and sugar first, how long do I need to mix so as to avoid over-mixing?

    • Hi Eddy,

      No need to cream the butter and sugar together first, just mix it all together in one go. It only needs to be mixed until the ingredients are combined so doesn’t need mixing for long at all. If you’re using an electric mixer keep the speed low and keep an eye on it.

      I hope that helps.

  75. Thanks a lot, I will definitely give it a try this weekend.

  76. I’ve just used this recipe to do my daughters birthday cake who’s 2 tomorrow cannot wait to try some

  77. Hi Charlotte, just forgot to put milk… 🙁 also, can use butter instead of margarine? Many thanks

    • Forgetting this milk isn’t a huge problem it just means you cake won’t be quite a fluffy. You can substitute butter for margarine, just make sure it’s soft before you try and use it or you won’t be able to mix it in.

  78. Is the recipe for medium or large eggs?
    I’m attempting an octonauts cake for my son’s birthday. All of your cakes look fabulous. I’m hoping I can make something that resembles what my 5 year old wants!
    Thanks.

    • I usually use medium eggs but I tend to go for whatever I have in the fridge and it’s worked fine with large too. Good luck with the Octonauts cake, I’m sure you son will love it xx

  79. Hi I am trying to make my daughters birthday cake. The first attempt sunk in the middle. I am using 9 inch cake pans. Not sure where I went wrong.

    • Hi Claire, Was the cake cooked in the middle when yo checked it? If it’s not done in the middle and you put it back in then it may end up sinking.

    • Hi Claire, Was the cake cooked in the middle when you checked it? If it’s not done in the middle and you put it back in then it may end up sinking.

  80. Hi charlotte!!I rlly love ur cakes n ur cakes looks amazin!!May i noe how long can the cake last?n also if i leave the baked cake in the fridge from today till sunday ,will it harden?

    • It should be absolutely fine in the fridge for a couple of days. I usually bake my cakes a couple of days before the party to give me time to decorate them and they’re still good to eat for a few days afterwards. Make sure you pop it into an airtight or wrap it in cling film to help keep it fresh.

  81. Hi Charlotte, Iv’e just been using your cake conversion calculator, which is absolutely amazing btw.

    I’m making my neighbours sons birthday cake, a three layer sponge (your recipe) with a 22 x 22cm cake tin.

    I’m going to use buttercream between (also your recipe) and then cover in fondant green icing (its a minecraft themed cake)

    With the layers, can i split the mixture in 3 and bake them separately? or do i have to do something special?

    can i double check the measurements the calculator threw out for me. I am a worries and I don’t want anything to go wrong. Any tips would be much appreciate. Left a link to the type of thing i am aiming at.

    http://tinyurl.com/hzg3nr3

    Thanks!

    BIRTHDAY CAKE SPONGE

    505g self-raising flour
    505g soft margerine
    505g caster sugar
    9 egg(s)
    4.5 tsp baking powder
    14 drops vanilla extract
    4.5 tsp milk

    BUTTERCREAM

    555g butter
    1110g icing sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    6.5 tsp (approx.) milk

    • I’ve calculated the ingredients to be the same as you 🙂 You’re fine splitting the mixture into 3 and baking them separately as you suggested. Do you have 3 tins so you can put them all into the oven at the same time? If you do then it’s fine to make one batch of mixture and then cook them. If you only have one tin and therefore need to bake them one after another then you should make 3 separate batches of cake mixture as the baking powder won’t work properly if the mixture is left sitting before cooking. I hope that helps, let me know if you have any questions and good luck with the cake.

  82. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for this. So so useful!

  83. Hi Charlotee – I’m about to make my son’s birthday cake with your recipe, should I use medium or large eggs? Thanks! Sarah

  84. Amazing recipe, supprized how well my cake turned out! Thanks 🙂

  85. Hey Charlotte, I’m wondering what the equivalent for a 12″ (30 cm) round tin would be??? I have a birthday cake to make that has three layers and is supposed to serve an 11 year old’s friends and a lot of 5 year old’s friends (It’s a joint party between brothers) along side a quite few adults helping out. I was wondering how much cake mix and buttercream I would need, for all three layers, filling and a crumb coat???

    Thank you!

  86. HI Charlotte
    I want to make a baby shower cake should it be a Victoria recipe or a Madeira recipe.
    Also what are the ingredient amounts needed for 2x 9inch and 2x7inch, each cake will have a butter cream and jam in the middle.
    Thank you.

    Kindest regards
    Shirley T

    • What kind of cake you make depends on what you want to do with the cake. This sponge is neither Madeira or Victoria but it’s quite similar in taste and texture to Victoria. If you want to give this one a try then I have a calculator to find the ingredients for the sponge and buttercream for different cake sizes. There’s a link to the calculator just beneath the recipe.

  87. hi charlotte,

    Do you have a recipe for the fondant icing?

    • Hi Jo. No, I don’t make my own, I’m always stretched for time to make and decorate the cake without adding that in too! Sorry x

      • No problem! Where do you find it? I am not sure where you are based? I am from the U.K. originally and know you can buy it there but am living in the USA and haven’t seen it here. They focus a lot on cream cheese frosting which I hate!!

  88. Hi hun.. I’m unable to use the bit where I can add my cake size.. was wondering if you could tell me.. I have an 18cm and 26cm cake tin both round

  89. Hi Charlotte – I’m thinking of making this sponge in advance and freezing then defrosting and the day before my daughters birthday. Do you know if the sponge freezes well? I’ve used the recipe before and it makes a great cake! thanks. 🙂

  90. I made your vanilla birthday cake last night – it didn’t turn out well – it seemed as if there was too much mixture for the tin (i checked the tin size) and the texture was more like a steamed sponge – what do think went wrong?

    I was so disappointed as I previously made your Cherry and Almond Marzipan cake which was amazing and has become a firm family favourite.

    • I have no idea, I’ve made the cake so many times and never had a problem with the mixture fitting into the tin (it’s a very popular recipe on here and the first time anyone has told me they have). What size tin did you use? Did you use one tin or split it into two?

      • Hi Charlotte, I used 2 20 cm tins

        • Hmmm, that’s exactly what I use and I’ve never had that problem. It is a much lighter sponge than the one used in the marzipan and cherry cake which is a lot denser, it could be that this one’s just not to your taste, the only thing that’s confusing me is that it seemed like too much batter when I always have plenty of spare space in the tins for the sponge to rise. Sorry I can’t be more helpful x

  91. Hi
    I have just made this sponge… It is in the oven at the moment. I want to decorate it with ready rolled icing, shall I use marzipan first?

    • I only tend to use marzipan under the icing on a fruit cake. However, if you’re a big marzipan fan then there’s no reason why you can’t do it this way. For birthday cakes I tend to cover the cake in a layer of buttercream, allow it to harden a little and then cover with fondant. The buttercream helps to get the fondant smooth and I like the flavour.

  92. Hi Charlotte,
    I’m very happy to find your website. I hope you can help me. I wonder if you could please give me a recipe for a large birthday cake (vanilla sponge or chocolate cake) for a large tin, 30cm x 38cm and 8cm high. I am wanting to make this for my son’s birthday so I can decorate it into a rugby field.
    Big thanks … Tania

    • You can use my calculators to work out the ingredients you need for your cake. Here’s the one for chocolate and here’s the one for vanilla. For a cake that depth you’ll need to assume it has 2 layers. You can make it in one deep tin or two shallower ones. If you’re using a deep tin then it’ll take a lot longer to cook so leave it at least 45 minutes before checking if it’s done.

  93. HI Charlotte – I made my first birthday cake this weekend thanks to your great recipe. Thanks for the easy instructions. Great website and the cake was a huge hit!

  94. Hi Charlotte, thank you for the awesome recipe. I have a question, can i beat the egg seperately first and than mix with other ingredients?

  95. Hi Charlotte
    I can’t wait to try the recipe for my sons birthday cake. I have two 30cm by 20cm rectangle tins. I also have a cake topper. Would you suggest that i use both the tins and put a filling in between the two layers of cake or would you suggest it tastes yummy enough with just the one layer of cake and no filling.

    • Either will work. Personally if I was only using one layer I’d definitely make sure I added a layer of buttercream around the outside or on top of the cake instead but the cake is chocolatey enough that you’d still have a good chocolate flavour if you wanted to leave the buttercream off.

  96. Charlotte
    Please can you help.

    I tried last night to bake this cake (in 26cm cake tin) and it collapsed in the middle and looked like a Yorkshire pudding! I am gutted. It’s my little girl’s birthday at the weekend and I’m determined to make the cake. Why did it sink?!

    • Did you use one deep tin or two sandwich tins? How long did you cook it for before checking it? It could also be if it was mixed for too long or on too high a speed a beat in a little too much air, make sure you keep the speed low if you’re using an electric mixer.

  97. Hi Charlotte,

    This recipe looks amazing and people seem to love it – you have such lovely comments. Can I fill the middle with nutella? And with regard to the decoration, I was planning on making a white chocolate ganache and then adding different chocolates (Minstrels, smarties etc) to the top and Kinder Chocolate Fingers around the cake, and then putting it into the fridge to set. Do you think this would work with this cake?

    Thanks

    • Hi Jess,

      You may find that Nutella is a little sticky for the middle of the cake (if you’re going to try it, I’d suggest piping it on rather than trying to spread it as you may well find that it gets filled with lots of crumbs otherwise). If you want the Nutella flavour running through the middle of your cake then you may want to try my Nutella buttercream. It contains a lot of Nutella so has the same flavour, but it has a smoother texture that will make it easier to spread.

      I’ve not tried covering the cake with chocolate ganache but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work as long as you have a thick enough consistency.

      • Hi Charlotte, thanks so much! Definitely trying your Nutella buttercream recipe and the recipe for this cake 🙂

        I will let you know how it goes!

  98. Hi Charlotte,
    I’m excited to try your cake after reading the comments 🙂
    But can I replace self raising flour with plain flour? What should I add so that it works?

    • I’ve not tried it, but theoretically you can. Nigella recommends adding 2tsp of baking powder per 150g of plain flour as a substitute for self-rising flour, so for this recipe you’d need an additional 3tsp of baking powder.

  99. Hi Charlotte,

    I just wanted you to know that the cake turned our great. Thank you for this lovely recipe.

  100. Hi Charlotte, have you ever tried this as an orange cake? I have a 60th cake to make next week and Dad loves orange cake.. If so what’s your guidance? 🙂

    • I haven’t. I’d imagine that you could switch the vanilla extract for orange extract and it would work well (although I’d be tempted to add a bit more, at least 1/4 tsp to get the flavour to come through).

  101. Not sure if you’ve answered this question already but how do you get your cakes to come out so flat? Mine always have a peak in the middle. I’ve tried the damp cloth round the edge and that seems to work quite well but you don’t seem to use that in your YouTube video. Thanks.

    • I’m not too sure what the trick is as mine are always pretty flat. I do find that if I mix the mixture on a fast speed then it peaks a bit more (as there’s more air beaten in) so make sure you keep you mixer on the lowest possible speed.

  102. Hello,
    i was trying to calculate but don’t know why its not working for me.
    can you please tell me what are the exact measurements of ingredients for my 22cms cake with 3 to 4 layers.
    i prefer 4 layers.
    thanks in advance 🙂
    i am waiting for your reply!

    • Here are the ingredients for 3 and 4 layers…

      3 layers

      395g self-raising flour
      395g margarine
      395g caster sugar
      7 eggs
      3.5 tsp baking powder
      1/4 tsp vanilla extract
      3.5 tsp milk

      4 layers

      565g self-raising flour
      565g margarine
      565g caster sugar
      10 eggs
      5 tsp baking powder
      1/4 tsp vanilla extract
      5 tsp milk

  103. Abigail worthington

    Hi charlotte
    Ur bday vanilla cake looks amazing! Am planning my baby girls first birthday cake and want to do one like urs.
    Will it work as a 2 tier cake?
    I read ur post re fondant icing. So u would use that all over right? Not ready to roll? Could u recommend a good fondant icing?
    Any reason why u use margarine and not butter? Which marg? I normally use butter!
    Take it its ok to put butter cream in the middle? Do u put buttercream and jam? Do u have a perfect buttercream recipe?
    Thanks so much!!!

    • Hi Abigail.

      I haven’t made it as a two tier cake but I know other people have and it has worked well. Make sure you put a few dowels or straws in the bottom cut to the height of the cake to give it a bit of support and put the top tier on a thin board the same diameter as the cake before putting on top of the bottom layer which again adds a bit of support and also stops the moisture from the cake ruining the icing on the bottom layer.

      You can you ready-to-roll or ready rolled fondant icing. I tend to buy the big packs of Tesco own brand but Renshaw is also very good.

      I use margarine because that’s what my Mum used when I was little. Butter would work just as well just make sure you take it out of the fridge and let it soften before adding it to the cake or it won’t mix in properly.

      I always put buttercream in the middle and sometimes jam too (if the person I’m making it for is a big jam fan). I’ll also add a thin layer to cover the cake under the fondant. I love the flavour or butter icing and it helps you to get a smooth finish with the fondant.

      If you have a look at the bottom of the cake recipe you’ll find a link to my vanilla buttercream. There’s also a link to a calculator so you can work out the ingredients for different sizes of cakes which you’ll find useful if you want to make layers.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      • Abigail worthington

        ThAnk you so much for your reply i only just saw it!
        Super thanks!

        I made a practice on friday and am so impressed!! Cake itself is so good and worked perfectly! In then end i have decided for a standard 2 layer (but may do 3) as urs and covered with thick buttercream (ur recipe which also is amazing!) and did pink ombre shading with the buttercream. Looks so good! I might make the sponges ombre coloured too. Have u added food colouring to this spong mixture before and did it work ok?
        Will decorate then top with a lovely sign i have order and flowers. So pleased thank you so much!
        Its so good my friend has already ordered a blue ombre version for her babyshower!
        Hope it wasnt fluke and works as well for the party! Sure it will.
        I will definitely follow ur recipes more now!
        Thanks again
        Abi

        • I haven’t tried adding food colouring but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. Use the thick gel colours as they’re bolder colours and won’t change the consistency of the mixture.

  104. Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe! I’ve actually been using it for a few years for birthday cakes and it has never let me down. Yesterday’s effort was two rectangular cakes sandwiched together to make a sheet cake for 40ish people, and got lots of lovely comments.
    I’m so glad I found your blog and this recipe 🙂

  105. I made this cake and my cake turned out pretty dry. I’m not sure what I did wrong, I made the cakes a day in advance to decorating and wrapped them in plastic wrap. I then leveled and stacked them and did the crumb coat and let it sit for a few hours before decorating. The buttercream frosting came out perfect and everything else came out perfect except the cake :/ Just wondering if you might have an idea what went wrong.

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’m not too sure as it’s usually quite moist. How long did you leave it in the oven? it’s possible it was slightly over-baked which would dry it out.

  106. Hi Charlotte, I need to make 3 sponges so I can stack them. Could you tell me the correct measurements for this please also if I need to use more eggs, vanilla and baking powder please. I’m using gluten free flour so hoping it will be ok, I have some cake dowels for support. Fingers crossed

    Gwen

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Gwen, have you tried using my converter it should give you the measurements you need. I’ve not tried making this cake with GF flour but I’ve know other people that have and have told me it’s worked well.

  107. I want to make a strawberry sponge. How would you suggest I do this?
    Shall I puree some strawberry’s and put them in? Would I have to put more flour in also? Or should I use strawberry jam?

    Suggestions gratefully received.

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’ve not tried it so I’m not 100% sure. You couldn’t simply add pureed strawberries as the additional liquid would change the consistency of the batter and it wouldn’t be a case of simply adding more flour as you’d need to ensure that the balance of butter, eggs and sugar was right too so that it’s sweet enough, rises well and isn’t too dry. If you post the question onto my Facebook page then I’ll share it with my followers and see if they have a recipe they can recommend.

  108. Hello I’m making a 8 inch square cake for my sons first birthday using your scale up of 280g and 5 eggs. Do I need to increase the time from 35 minutes? I’m just doing one deep tin and going to cut in half after. Thank you!

    • Charlotte Oates

      You’ll need to increase the cooking time to check it at 45 minutes. This is because the cake is deeper rather than wider. If you were making an 8″ cake split between two tins it should still be 30-35 minutes.

  109. Just wanted to say thanks for a great website and delicious cake recipe. I don’t usually write comments or bake for that matter but was so happy with the results of my son’s 3rd birthday cake that I wanted to thank you. Having your instructions and info for buttercream etc made it really easy and stress free. Glad I found your site!

  110. Love this recipe. Used it for my daughter’s birthday cake and couldn’t believe how easy it was and how nice it tasted (particularly considering I had baked it!)
    Just wanted to say thanks.

  111. Hello! This recipe looks lovely. I am going to make it for a 20th birthday cake.
    I’ve misplaced my two matching sized tins so am going to have to use 1 big tin (23cm). How would cooking times alter for cooking one large cake then cutting it into 2 layers? would you recommend baking the layers separately? Thanks!

    • Charlotte Oates

      I always bake the layers separately but I know quite a few people have made this recipe in a deep tin without any problems. A deep cake takes longer to cook so don’t check it until it’s been in the oven for at least 45 minutes.

  112. Hi Charlotte, I am useless at making sponge cake but I have just followed this recipe as a test ready for my nieces 18th birthday cake next weekend & it has worked out perfectly. To make it lemon flavoured, can I just exchange the vanilla for zest of 1 lemon? Thank you so much, going to look up some more of your recipes.

    • I’m so glad it worked for you. Ive not tried it as a lemon sponge before, I’ll have a try at adding the zest when I do.

  113. Great recipe – everyone enjoyed the sponge. It baked up nicely and held well for decorating. So easy to have the all-in-one method. I felt it was a little split but maybe didn’t mix it enough – was concerned about over beating – i was using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment – how long do you normally mix it up? Also my mum was saying i should bang down the tin to spread it out evenly but i was worried about losing air in the mix – advice on that? Not a baker but this is perfect for annual birthday cake requests, next year i will perfect!

    • Hi Carol, I’m really glad you enjoyed the recipe, I get a lot of lovely comments about this cake from people who rarely bake.

      To (hopefully) answer your questions… I mix it until it’s just combined to avoid over mixing. I’ve never banged down the tin, just spread the mixture evenly with a spatula. The fat content in the sponge means that it should even itself out as it bakes. What temperature were your eggs when you added them? Eggs straight from the fridge tend to split a cake mixture more than ones at room temperature.

  114. Hi Charlotte, just wanted to say a massive thank you for this and your chocolate cake recipe! Both have been a huge hit at home and work. This is my new go to. I was just wondering, do you think this would work okay with lemon zest? I have some lemon frosting and not sure what to do with it so thought maybe a lemon cake and was hoping to use this recipe again xx

    • Charlotte Oates

      I haven’t tried it but I’ve been told by others that adding lemon zest to this recipe works well.

  115. Hi Charlotte, thank you for sharing this recipe, I will be using it to make my son’s birthday cake. I am using a 12inch (30cm) square tin and plan to bake two layers separately. I’ve checked your responses here and used your calculator but the amount of ingredients differ slightly… could you please let me have the correct quantities? Please could you also give me the quantities for the buttercream because I plan to decorate it with ready to roll icing. Thanks so much!

    • Charlotte Oates

      I would use the ingredients that come from the calculator (prior to publishing that I was working each cake out manually). The ingredients I think you need for the cake are…
      620g flour
      620g margarine
      620g sugar
      11 eggs
      5.5 tsp baking powder
      1/4 tsp vanilla extract
      5.5 tsp milk

      For the buttercream…
      605g butter
      1210g icing sugar
      1.25 tsp vanilla
      7 tsp milk (approx)

  116. This is literally the easiest and best cake recipe I’ve ever used. Perfect for decorating!

  117. I’ve been reading all your reviews and excited to try this cake!
    I’m planning on making an In the Night Garden themed cake for my son’s first birthday next week but I’m a complete beginner when it comes to celebration cakes, so I’d really appreciate any tips!
    I have a 13×9 inch (23x33cm) rectangular cake tin and I’d like to have 2 layers with jam and buttercream in the middle. I’m using roll out icing to cover and decorate it. How much roll out icing will I need to cover it? I’ve got Renshaws coloured icing 250g packs.
    I’ve used your calculator to work out quantities of ingredients – (565g flour etc) – do I just make up the mixture and then put half in the tin, cook it and then do the other half? How long should I bake it for?
    Also, what type of jam would you suggest? Smooth/no seeds etc? I. Was thinking strawberry jam – any brand in particular work well?
    Thanks so much. I’m going to try a practice one this weekend with smaller quantities.

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Gemma, I’m not totally sure how much fondant you’d need (I always use far too much as I rather have too much than being trying to make not quite enough stretch!). I found this guide which might be useful https://www.designer-cakes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/SugarpasteChart.pdf I’d go with the measurements for an 11″ square.

      If you’ve only got one tin then I’d recommend making half the mixture, cooking it and then making the other half of the mixture and cooking it. It’s a bit more effort but if you leave the mixture for the 2nd cake sitting on the side while you cook the first the raising agent in the flour will start to react with the other ingredients and you may find that the cake doesn’t rise properly when you go to cook it. If you use the measurements in the calculator then the cooking time and temperature recommended in the original cake recipe should be fine.

      Any type of jam is fine, go with whatever you like best. Personally I prefer seedless raspberry. It can be tricky to spread the jam and buttercream over the cake without them getting a bit mixed together. Personally getting them a bit mixed does;t really bother me as once the cakes stuck together and covered in icing then you don’t really notice. If you want to keep the layers more defined then I’d suggest piping them on instead.

      Good luck with the cake, I made a Night Garden cake for my youngest’s first birthday too.

      • Thanks for your advice…everyone loved the cake and commented on how delicious it was! I can’t add a picture of the finished cake to show you but it
        was my first attempt at doing anything like it so I was quite pleased and my son recognised the characters so that helped!! Thanks very much!

  118. Hi we made your chocolate yesterday and it dosnt look as deep as yours. we had done all the ingredients perfectly. The only thing I can think of is that we put them in the oven at different times as the tins wouldn’t have been in the middle of the rack. They are about 1 and half inch.
    We used two 23cm tins what would you recommend ?

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Elaine, Did you make the mixture and then leave it out while the first cake was cooking. The raising agents can start to react if you do that and it might not rise as well as it should.

  119. Hi Charlotte
    I would like to make this for my sons first birthday I would like to put the buttercream in the middle and then put white icing over the whole cake
    I’m a novice!
    How long would it keep for once I make it please?
    Also do I have to use anything on the icing to make it stick to the cake?
    Should I put jam in the middle also?
    Thanks

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Naomi,

      I usually make my cake on Thursday for a Saturday party (and ice on the Friday) and it’ll usually be good t eat for a few days afterwards. However, if the weather is warm you may want to store it in the fridge to ensure the buttercream doesn’t go funny.
      You don’t need to put anything on the cake to make the icing stick. However, I usually use a thin layer of buttercream over the whole cake as this helps to get the icing smooth.
      Whether or not you put jam in the middle is purely down to your own preference. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

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