Old School Chocolate Tray Bake

Old School Chocolate Tray Bake
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Having already perfected my old school cake recipe – a simple vanilla sponge with pink icing and sprinkles – I started to remember a chocolate traybake we used to have at school. A light, airy cocoa-rich sponge, smothered in chocolate glacé icing. So here is my take on that – an old school chocolate tray bake recipe that’s easy to make.

Like most old school cakes, this baked treat also came with runny custard. We were served simple vanilla, though apparently others had their old school chocolate cake with pink custard. Some cooks even must have had a mint custard recipe up their nylon pinafore sleeves, as some recall eating old school chocolate cake and mint custard. Perhaps you could try whisking a teaspoon of pink food colouring or peppermint extract into a tub of fresh, ready made custard for a similar effect.

Some also remember having chocolate cake and chocolate custard – together. Now surely that’s just having your cake and eating it. A bit too much, in my opinion. For me, a carton of fresh vanilla custard will do nicely. Whichever kind of custard your old school puddings were served with, I don’t anyone would disagree with the plain fact that it must indeed be custard. Never cream or ice cream.

Old school cake recipes like this serve at least a dozen – although it could be half that if everyone demands a huge slab. Or seconds. A chocolate tray bake can be made as a birthday cake, too. For a kids’ party, you could decorate with sweets instead of sprinkles. Or add larger, crunchier sprinkles, making it taste more like the old school chocolate crunch cake some of us also remember.

A school tray bake recipe that’s easy and delicious – with more than an added dash of nostalgia. This is surely the mother of all chocolate tray bake recipes. Apologies, Mary Berry (who is still Queen of baking, even if not quite the GBBO marquee).

This old school chocolate cake recipe serves around 12-16.

Old School Chocolate Tray Bake Ingredients


  • Self-raising flour, 200g
  • Granulated or caster sugar, 200g
  • Baking margarine or butter (at room temperature), cubed, 200g
  • Eggs, 4 medium
  • Milk, 3-4 tbsp
  • Cocoa powder, 4 tbsp
  • Salt, a pinch


  • Icing sugar, 200g
  • Cocoa powder, 3 tbsp
  • Milk, about 3 tbsp
  • Sprinkles


How to make this Old School Tray Bake with Chocolate

  • Grease the baking dish with a little baking margarine or butter.
  • Put the cake ingredients – using 3 tbsp milk at this point) into the food processor or mixer and blitz until smooth. (In mine, this takes about 20 seconds.) If it needs 1 more tablespoon of milk, add that then mix again briefly.
  • If you’re not sure about thickness of the cake mix, try my mother and grandmother’s ‘dropping consistency’ test. Spoon up some mix and drop it off again; it should fall slowly but steadily. If it seems too runny, add 1 tbsp flour at a time and mix quickly before trying again. If it’s too thick, add 1 tbsp milk and do the same until it seems just right. (A lot of this comes with baking experience!)
  • Transfer the cake mixture to the greased baking dish and use the spatula to smooth the surface.
  • Bake at 160 degrees fan (or equivalent) for around 20 – 30 minutes, until risen and springy to the touch. The time does vary according to each oven and the baking dish used. Use a metal skewer to check the centre of the cake is baked before turning the oven off. If if there is any uncooked cake mix on the skewer, give it five more minutes more before checking again.
  • Leave the cake to cool to room temperature in the dish. As I made mine in a ceramic dish, I left it there for an hour before icing. If you’ve used a metal dish and want to remove it, do so once it’s cool enough to handle before transferring to a wire rack.
  • Here’s how to make chocolate glacé icing. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together into a bowl. Mix in 2 tbsp milk to begin with, adding more as required to create the smooth, glossy brown icing. Once you’re approaching the desired consistency, add just a teaspoon at a time until it’s perfect. (I used 3 tbsp last time I made it.)
  • Pour the icing over the cooled sponge tray bake. Use the back of the spoon or a spatula to gently spread it out, creating a smooth, even layer. Add the sprinkles of your choice. Once the icing has set, it’s ready to cut into squares.

Serve this old school recipe for chocolate sponge with custard. (What else?)

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Note –  This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy via these, I may earn a small fee. This has absolutely no effect on the price you pay. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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