My gluten free school dinner sponge cake recipe is guaranteed to make you feel like a kid all over again – no time machine required. Plus, a little custard goes a long way with this fun-filled traybake as I’m sure you already know. Oh and this recipe is dairy free and low FODMAP too.
Ok, so maybe there’s some things about school dinner we’d rather forget (like turkey twizzlers and turkey dinosaurs) but dessert definitely doesn’t fall into that category for me. So here’s my faithful recreation of a childhood favourite – my gluten free school dinner sponge cake recipe…
So who here had this as a dessert at primary school, served up with hot custard? I only ask because Mark has no idea what I’m talking about – he was a packed lunch kid!
(the fun part was always deciding who got the skin of the custard… but 9 times out of 10, nobody actually wanted it)
Compared to some of the other desserts we had – like a yoghurt or cheese and biscuits – this was like hitting the jackpot when you’re 4 years old. I absolutely hated when we had muffins for dessert… mainly because they had tons of raisins in! I’d spend ages making a complete mess all over the table, picking them all out!
But I mean, how can a yoghurt compare to this for dessert? Even if I was lucky enough to get the toffee flavour yoghurt… which I never did!
Plus, sometimes we’d get pink custard… but I have no idea why it was pink and I’ve certainly never had it since then!
I think this dessert became such a fond memory of school dinners simply because not every day of the week was so appealing…
I seem to remember being very disappointed on the day where they were serving turkey stew with stodgy packet mash, tinned watery carrots and plum tomatoes.
(That’s definitely not something that ever made it onto our weekly meal plan, 20 years on!)
I did love hotdogs on a Monday though – not sure what Jamie Oliver would have to say about that?
So I’ve literally just looked at the menu for school dinners at my old primary school (yes it’s online for some reason!) and wow – it has improved so much – this is so unfair!!!
But guess what? Vanilla sponge cake with custard is still on the menu! But they’ve also added make your own fajitas, southern fried goujons, chicken tikka masala, sweet and sour chicken for mains – where was this when I was a kid?! Though everything seems to be served up with sweetcorn for some reason – even the sweet and sour!
Does your old primary school have its school dinner menu online? Go have a look!
But even to this day, I will always still remember sitting in the dinner hall on one of sixteen tables, waiting for the cook to bring over our food.
(yes they actually brought it over to our table for some reason)
Then one of the over kids in Year 6 would serve it all up to us at the table. I remember that for some reason when we’d have apple crumble for dessert (another jackpot day) I’d just ask the serve to give me the crumble because I didn’t like the apple??? What was wrong with me?!
I even did the serving duty a few times when I was older – my Mum was so proud.
Ok, I think you’ve heard enough about my life story, so onwards with the gluten free school dinner sponge cake recipe…
I promise you – this is exactly how I remember this dessert tasting. Shame I couldn’t go back to my primary school now and ask for a slice… I can see from the menu that it contains gluten!!
(Good on them for having allergens on the school dinner menu though!)
But even without all the fond memories of having this as a kid, it’s a recipe that’s mega-easy to make, it looks fun and it tastes awesome. I do hope it brings back many fond memories for you!
Ok, so here’s my gluten free school dinner sponge cake recipe…
Ingredients for my Gluten free school dinner sponge cake
For the sponge cake
- 400 g gluten free self raising flour
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
- 400 g butter, softened (or dairy free spread)
- 350 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 eggs
For the icing
- 400 g icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- a few tbsp water
- colour strands decorations, (always ensure you check cake decorations are gluten free, some contain wheat starch)
*** For a slightly smaller version of this cake I have put the measurements and timings in the ‘Notes’ section of the recipe card below ***
Preheat your oven to 160C fan / 180C. Prepare a rectangular baking tin – mine is approx 32cm x 21.5cm. I grease the tin and then use baking paper – the baking paper should go over the edges so you can lift out the cake once it’s cooled.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together your caster sugar and your softened butter (or dairy free spread). Cream until lighter and fluffy. I use an electric hand whisk.
Gradually add your eggs and vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
Fold in the gluten free self raising flour and xanthan gum to the mixture (this is a big mixture so make sure you carefully fold all the flour in properly)
Spoon/pour your mixture evenly into the baking tin. Place in the oven for about 50-60 minutes until fully cooked and golden.
Leave to cool in the tin and then lift out, using the baking paper and place on a cooling rack.
Whilst the cake is cooling you can make your icing. Sieve your icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add your vanilla extract and very gradually add a tbsp of water at a time and mix in until it becomes the right consistency. It should be quite thick and glossy, don’t let it go too runny. If you do sieve in a little more icing sugar.
Once you are happy with the consistency of your icing spoon it over your sponge. Allow it to evenly cover the top and go all the way to the edges.
Sprinkle your coloured strands all over the top of the icing – as many as you like. I use a lot!! Now allow your icing to completely set before you cut into slices. I leave mine about 30 – 60 minutes.
Cut a thin strip off each side (but don’t waste, they can be enjoyed!!). Then cut the sponge into squares.
Enjoy as they are or serve up with some custard for a nostalgic school dinner treat!
My gluten free school dinner sponge cake recipe is perfect with a little custard and guaranteed to take you back to your school days! It's dairy free too. I often make this is a 9x9inch square tin as well. For this I bake it at the same oven temperature for about 40 minutes. For that the quantities would be: For the sponge cake: For the icing:
For the sponge cake
For the icing
340g gluten free self raising flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
340g butter, softened (or dairy free alternative)
300g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few tbsp water
colour strands decorations, (always ensure you check cake decorations are gluten free, some contain wheat starch)
My gluten free school dinner sponge cake recipe is perfect with a little custard and guaranteed to take you back to your school days! It's dairy free too.
I often make this is a 9x9inch square tin as well. For this I bake it at the same oven temperature for about 40 minutes. For that the quantities would be:
For the sponge cake:
For the icing:
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me on Instagram and leaving me a comment!
Thanks for reading,
Oh and don’t forget to pin this for later!