Liam Charles’ recipe for a birthday sprinkle cake

It’s someone’s birthday somewhere, and this is the perfect cake to celebrate: a retro classic that’s so simple, the whole family could have a go at making it

During lockdown, the whole nation was cooking and loads of bakes shot to fame. Banana loaves, chocolate chip cookies … but, in my opinion, the most valuable player has to be the sprinkle cake. Its sheer simplicity makes it a winner. Plus, it’s perfect for birthdays – and it’s mine this week. How convenient!

My birthday sprinkle cake
Prep 20 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 8

For the sponge
375g unsalted butter
375g caster sugar
6 large eggs
375g self-raising flour
¾ tsp baking powder
6 tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet party rings

For the icing
400g icing sugar
120ml whole milk
A few drops of pink gel food colouring
½ tsp vanilla extract
Hundreds and thousands sprinkles, to finish

Heat the oven to 170C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Grease and line a deep, rectangular baking tray.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then transfer to a large bowl. Using an electric or standard hand whisk, combine the caster sugar with the melted butter, and stir until well incorporated.

Add the eggs one at a time, until combined, then fold in the flour and baking powder. Finally, loosen the cake mixture with the milk and vanilla extract.

Lay the party rings face down on the prepared tin. Pour the cake mixture over them, then bake for 40 minutes until golden brown, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool further.

For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then add about half the milk, the vanilla extract and a drop of pink gel food colouring, and mix until the icing is easy to spread and only just pourable. If you feel the icing is too thick, add a splash more milk until it reaches the right consistency.

Pour the icing on to the middle of the cooled cake, then spread outwards with a spatula – don’t worry about the icing running down the sides. Top with the hundreds and thousands, add candles if there’s a birthday, and serve.