With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend just around the corner, your thoughts may well be turning to baking something delicious for your local street party.  If, like me, you don’t make cakes all that often, finding a reliable recipe that’s truly foolproof and will give you a perfect rise every time can mean you kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince of a cake!  And then, of course, you need to make sure you have the correct size of cake tins for your recipe because size (and shape) matter!

So here is a very easy, very tasty basic sponge cake recipe which uses the “all-in-one” method (seriously quick & foolproof).  I’ve given quantities and cooking times for a variety of round and square cake tin sizes, as well as quantities to make enough buttercream to fill and cover a 2 tier cake. You can also vary the flavour of your cake and I have included suggestions and quantities for flavourings for both the cake and the icing.

The recipe is based on a traditional Madeira cake which is made with more flour than a Victoria sponge cake, and therefore has a denser texture.  This makes it perfect to cut into different shapes and as it’s less crumbly, it’s also easier to ice. The cake also freezes well (undecorated) for up to 3 months

This type of sponge cake is often cooked in single, deep cake tin; the resulting cake can then be cut into layers and iced.  Alternatively, you can divide the batter between 2 shallow cake tins which you can sandwich together, or for a 4-layer showstopper, cut each cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers.  I have given cooking times and temperatures for both types of cake tin – basically you need to cook the deep cake “low & slow”, while the cakes cooked in shallow tins need a higher oven temperature and shorter cooking time.

Basic Sponge Cake


  1. Grease and line your cake tins
  2. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F) fan oven for a single, deep cake, or 170C (340F) fan oven for 2 x shallow cakes. For non-fan assisted ovens, increase the cooking time by 10 degrees C (50F).
  3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients (including your chosen flavourings). Using a stand mixer or hand whisk, combine all the ingredients together on a slow speed.  Once the mix has come together, increase the speed and beat for one minute.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Cook in the centre of the oven for the specified length of time.
  5. To test whether your cake is done, lightly press the middle of the cake – it should be golden brown spring back. A skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean.  If it’s not quite done, cook for a further 5 minutes and check again.
  6. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.



Method – Buttercream

  1. Sift half the icing sugar into a bowl with the softened butter and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the remaining icing sugar, then beat in the milk and/or flavourings.
  2. Continue beating until you achieve your desired consistency – the more air you beat in, the lighter and fluffier the icing will be.


Flavourings – for the cake and the buttercream icing

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