Birthday Custard Sponge

This is the world’s best birthday cake because a) it is dead easy b) it doesn’t use any complicated ingredients, c) it’s delicious and d) it lasts for ages! I have made it at least 20 times I reckon and have tried a few variations in how I ice it (fresh cream in middle/ full icing on top etc) You can use a food processor if you have one- I didn’t when I first made it but nowadays it makes it so much easier. It’s a bit unfortunate that you have to wash it between making the cake and making the icing though… This is the buttercream recipe i always use nowadays too. I used to just bung some butter and icing sugar in a bowl and mix and taste, as instructed by my mother (who has not cooked anything other than readymeals for 20 years!) but it turns out it’s way easier to actually measure it, and this one really works! Enjoy, or at least, make for someone else to enjoy!


For the sponge

  •  200g plain flour (could use SR, doesn’t really matter)                                                                           
  • 3 tablespoon(s) custard powder (Have used both birds and own-brand and all are nice in this- not mad-keen on own-brand in general but find it fine for baking)
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon(s) bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 medium egg(s)
  • 225g soft butter (I use utterly butterly or similar because a) you get at least twice as much for your money and b) it’s easier to mix                                                                              
  • 200g castor sugar (I use granulated because it’s loads cheaper and I quite like the texture on the rare occasions it’s noticeable)                                                                                       
  • 2.5 tablespoon(s) milk

1. Heat oven to 180 and butter and line a couple of tins

2. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix. Add milk at end as then you can alter the amount if necessary, Should be dropping consistency according to nigella. I don’t really know what this means but it doesn’t seem to have affected my cake at all!

3. Divide between tins and bake for about 20 mins. When done they will be quite puffed up because of custard and should feel a bit springy. Leave to cool

For the icing

125g icing sugar

4 teaspoons custard powder (I’m not very careful measuring this, in fact sometimes I just pour it in!)

75g butter (again, I use utterly- easier and cheaper)

a bit of boiling water (to be honest, most of the time, when you use butter-substitute, this doesn’t seem to be necessary!)

Bung all of the above in newly washed food processor and that’s it. Add boiling water last if you think it needs it.

The icing recipe gives enough to fill the middle. If you love icing you might want to double up. I think when we iced a number 1 for Samantha’s birthday we did about four times this amount, maybe five.

Nigella’s suggestion is to do a chocolate topping and her recipe is here with the rest of what I’ve just said. However, when I last went shopping I bought some golden syrup but lost it on the way home so we had to improvise. Chris did it, but basically he put 150g chocolate in a bowl on top of a pan of boiling water (he took over as he was unhappy with me doing it just in a saucepan) and then added a bit of cream and butter to soften it. The idea being that you want the icing to have a soft consistency when on the cake so you can cut it (or maybe you don’t- Chris’s mum always just melts Cadbury’s chocolate on top of her cakes, and it’s hard to cut but very tasty!)

Anyway, this recipe is brilliant, let me know how you get on!

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