Annie Rigg’s Brilliant Basic Birthday Cake Recipe

  • Easy

A fabulous cake is an essential ingredient for a brilliant birthday party - we follow this classic sponge cake overtime.

Annie Rigg's Brilliant Birthday Cakes

Look no further that Annie Rigg when it comes to children’s birthday cakes. Annie is an experienced food writer and stylist and has written over 15 books and styled hundreds more. One we especially love here ta Junior is  Birthday Cakes For Kids (Ryland, Peters & Small).

We have featured the Pixie Toadstool, the Wise Owl  and the Flowering Garden cakes but there is so many to chose from like a Fluffy Sheep covered in marshmallows to a Pirate’s Treasure Chest, and a Ladybird to a Hot Air Balloon Annie really has produced some fun and crowd-pleasing cakes for even the pickiest of birthday girls and boys.

Creating these cakes really are easy you just need to make this basic sponge recipe (using the size indicated in each recipe, and in your child’s favourite flavour), then ice with a scrummy Buttercream, Chocolate Fudge Frosting or Glacé Icing t creat a whole wonder of beautiful birthday cakes.



Extra large

  • Unsalted butter 350g (12oz), at room temperature
  • caster sugar 350g (12oz)
  • large eggs 6, beaten
  • vanilla extract 2 tsp
  • Plain flour 350g (12oz)
  • Baking powder 5 tsp
  • milk 4-5 tbsp, at room temperature


  • Unsalted butter 250g (12oz), at room temperature
  • caster sugar 250g (12oz)
  • large eggs 4, beaten
  • vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • Plain flour 250g (12oz)
  • Baking powder 4 tsp
  • milk 3-4 tbsp, at room temperature


  • Unsalted butter 125g (4½oz), at room temperature
  • caster sugar 125g (4½oz)
  • large eggs 2, beaten
  • vanilla extract 1/2 tsp
  • Plain flour 125g (4½oz)
  • Baking powder 2 tsp
  • milk 2 tbsp, at room temperature


  • Unsalted butter 350g (12oz), at room temperature
  • icing sugar 700g (1Ib 9oz), sifted
  • vanilla extract optional

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • dark chocolate 350g (12oz), roughly chopped
  • Unsalted butter 225g (8oz)
  • milk 225ml (8fl oz)
  • vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • icing sugar 450g (1lb), sifted

Glacé Icing

  • large egg white 1
  • lemon juice 1 tbsp
  • icing sugar 250–300g (9–10½oz), sifted


For the sponge cake

  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 350ºF/ Gas Mark 4. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer or with a handheld whisk until light and fluffy, about 2–3 minutes. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the mixture in two batches, mixing until smooth. Add the milk and mix.

For Alternative Flavours

  • Step 1

    For a basic chocolate sponge, substitute four tablespoons of cocoa for the  four tablespoons of the plain flour in the Extra Large Sponge recipe, three tablespoons in the Large and one in the Small recipe. For lemon or orange, substitute the grated zest of an unwaxed lemon or orange for the vanilla extract.

For the butter cream

  • Step 1

    Cream the butter in an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld electric whisk until it is very soft. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth. Add a few drops of vanilla extract, if using.

For the chocolate fudge frosting

  • Step 1

    Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool slightly. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla extract and icing sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Leave the frosting to set and thicken slightly.

For glacé icing

  • Step 1

    Beat the egg white and the lemon juice together in a bowl until mixed together thoroughly. Gradually add the icing sugar until the icing is smooth and has the consistency of slightly thickened double cream. Keep covered with clingfilm until ready to use.