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More Nigella recipes

Birthday Custard Sponge

by . Featured in FEAST
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Introduction

This cake - simple and homespun, and not above using Bird's Custard Powder for its buttercream filling - has been an essential part of birthday celebrations in my house since my children were little.

This cake - simple and homespun, and not above using Bird's Custard Powder for its buttercream filling - has been an essential part of birthday celebrations in my house since my children were little.

Birthday Custard Sponge
Photo by James Merrell

Ingredients

Makes: up to 12 slices

Metric Cups

For the Sponge

  • 200 grams plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons custard powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225 grams soft butter
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons milk

For the Buttercream Filling

  • 125 grams icing sugar
  • 4 teaspoons custard powder
  • 75 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 1½ teaspoons boiling water (from recently boiled kettle)

For the Chocolate Icing

  • 60 millilitres water
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 125 grams caster sugar (or use 50g if using milk chocolate)
  • 175 grams dark chocolate
  • 1 packet hundreds and thousands

For the Sponge

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons custard powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 sticks soft butter
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons milk

For the Buttercream Filling

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 4 teaspoons custard powder
  • ¾ stick soft unsalted butter
  • 1½ teaspoons boiling water (from recently boiled kettle)

For the Chocolate Icing

  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup golden syrup or light corn syrup
  • ⅔ cup superfine sugar (or use 50g if using milk chocolate)
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 packet hundreds and thousands

Method

For the cake

  1. Make sure everything you need is at room temperature before you start. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF, and butter and line two 20cm / 8 inch sandwich tins.
  2. Put all of the above ingredients except the milk, into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter, and then add the milk a tablespoon at a time to make a soft dropping consistency. Divide between the two cake tins and bake for 20 minutes. The cakes will have risen and feel spookily puffy; this is because of the cornflour in the custard powder.
  3. Let the tins sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then turn them out on to the rack, peeling away the paper.

For the buttercream icing

  1. Process the icing sugar and custard powder to get rid of any lumps, and then add the butter, processing again to make the buttercream come together.
  2. Feed the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running to make the filling easier to spread.
  3. Then sandwich the cooled sponges together with the custardy buttercream.

For the chocolate icing

  1. Combine the water, syrup and sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve over a low heat.
  2. Let it come to the boil and then take it off the heat.
  3. Break up the chocolate into small pieces if you are not using chocolate buttons (as I do for cooking, but good quality not confectionary standard), and then add to the pan, swirling it around to cover in the hot liquid. Leave to melt for a few minutes, and then whisk the icing to make it smooth and shiny. Pour over the buttercream filled cake, letting it drip down the sides, and then sprinkle generously with the hundreds and thousands before the icing sets.
  4. Prong with candles, light them and sing.

For the cake

  1. Make sure everything you need is at room temperature before you start. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF, and butter and line two 20cm / 8 inch sandwich tins.
  2. Put all of the above ingredients except the milk, into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter, and then add the milk a tablespoon at a time to make a soft dropping consistency. Divide between the two cake tins and bake for 20 minutes. The cakes will have risen and feel spookily puffy; this is because of the cornflour in the custard powder.
  3. Let the tins sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then turn them out on to the rack, peeling away the paper.

For the buttercream icing

  1. Process the confectioners' sugar and custard powder to get rid of any lumps, and then add the butter, processing again to make the buttercream come together.
  2. Feed the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running to make the filling easier to spread.
  3. Then sandwich the cooled sponges together with the custardy buttercream.

For the chocolate icing

  1. Combine the water, syrup and sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve over a low heat.
  2. Let it come to the boil and then take it off the heat.
  3. Break up the chocolate into small pieces if you are not using chocolate buttons (as I do for cooking, but good quality not confectionary standard), and then add to the pan, swirling it around to cover in the hot liquid. Leave to melt for a few minutes, and then whisk the icing to make it smooth and shiny. Pour over the buttercream filled cake, letting it drip down the sides, and then sprinkle generously with the hundreds and thousands before the icing sets.
  4. Prong with candles, light them and sing.

Tell us what you think

What 11 Others have said

  • Our 10 year old has just made this for her father's birthday. All I can say is - superb! - he will be delighted, he is a total choc, custard and sugar freak - like the kids! Thanks Nigella, you're a genius, we love you!

    Posted by SOPHIA CLEVERLY on 12th November 2015
  • Hi Nigella. I'm from Brazil and I follow your wonderful receipes. But I can't find some ingredients in here such as Bird's custard powder. I also have no idea of what is "1 pot hundreds and thousands". Do you know if there is anything I can use to replace those itens and make this birthday cake for my son's birthday? Thanks!

    Posted by Camila Miori on 15th December 2011
  • Hi Nigella. Baked the cake and it's delicious! Thanks. Is there anything that I can add on to the icing as the icing seems to melt non-stop until I can see the surface of the cake.I made the cake and had it outdoor. The weather here is humid and hot. Like to make it again for my son's birthday this 22 June. Thanks

    Posted by kelatae on 14th June 2011
  • I've not made this for a while, but everyone loves it when I do. I am about to try using the recipe to make cupcakes for a school fundraiser with the buttercream as icing along with chocolate sprinkles. Hope they turn out as good as I imagine they will!!

    Posted by izcullen on 4th March 2015
  • I made this cake today for my 16th birthday- really yummy! will make again!

    Posted by libby97 on 5th September 2013
  • Hi! Have tried this earlier and it's delicious. But now I'm wondering if I could use this with fondant. Pls let me know. Tks.

    Posted by AshBaker on 13th March 2013
  • The cake is easy to make and everyone really enjoys it. It looks good with hundreds and thousands but I have also used writing icing to write a birthday message. The chocolate icing sets quickly.

    Posted by jlh22 on 24th February 2013
  • Thanks for the birthdaycake. Today is my birthday. Greetings from Belgium.

    Posted by Lucje on 28th June 2012
  • I have made this lovely cake several times for family birthdays and it always goes down a treat. It is one of my nine year old son's favourite cakes. Would highly recommend.

    Posted by vtemple on 6th May 2012
  • With the Bird's custard in the centre, it sounds almost like the cake equivalent of a Nanaimo Bar - dangerously decadent! Bookmarking for when I've got a bit more room in my belt...

    Posted by rubymoukli on 15th December 2011
  • I'm 13 and I made this for my fathers 50th birthday! It was really tasty and my whole family loved it. It was quick and easy and I didn't have any trouble making it. Now I have been commissioned to make more cakes!

    Posted by Harriet :) on 5th August 2011
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