Tottenham Cake is a classic British traybake – delicious sponge cake topped with pink icing and decorated with coconut or sprinkles. An incredibly simple all-in-one cake recipe that’s perfect for sharing!
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I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Tottenham Cake until a reader asked me if I had a recipe for it. I had a vague memory in the back of my mind about learning something about it… but I couldn’t place it.
When I mentioned it to my husband, he reminded me that it was part of a technical challenge on The Great British Bake Off in 2013. Back then I had aspirations to be on the show myself, and even auditioned for it. Ahhh memories…
PS: Bake Off fans, check out my Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe!
Why is it called a Tottenham cake?
There’s a sweet history behind the origins of Tottenham Cake (watch the GBBO segment on YouTube). This traybake with bright pink icing was created in Tottenham, North London by the baker, and Quaker, Henry Chalkley.
Can you believe that this sweet traybake (a.k.a sheet cake) was sold for just a penny per slice, with offcuts sold for only half a penny back in the day?
The distinctive bright pink icing owed its colour to the mulberries from the tree growing at the Meeting House of the Tottenham Friends (Quakers) on Tottenham High Road.
The cake was given out to local children for free (I can almost see the joy in their faces) to celebrate Tottenham Hotspur Football Club winning the FA Cup for the first time in 1901.
This unique British bake is still sold locally and has even made it to the regional menu of some branches of Greggs.
Here’s What You Will Need
Fancy baking your own Tottenham Cake? It is ridiculously easy to make and hugely popular among children and nostalgic grown ups of course 🙂
This cake is similar to my popular School Cake recipe. You will need flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, softened butter (or margarine), eggs and milk. Flavours come from a little lemon zest and vanilla.
Create an incredibly vivid – all natural – pink icing using blueberries, lemon juice and icing sugar. I usually have a pack of frozen blueberries in the freezer these are perfect for this purpose.
By the way, this cake is also known as a Coconut Traybake. The desiccated coconut sprinkled on top of the icing or sometimes the cake is spread with a layer of strawberry jam and then topped with the coconut. If you are not a big fan you can add some colourful sprinkles instead!
This is a great cake for bake sales and parties as it serves a big crowd. It keeps well in an airtight container for 2-3 days if you want to keep it all to yourself!
HOW TO MAKE TOTTENHAM CAKE
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
Add the flour, sugar and raising agents in a mixing bowl and mix together to combine. Top with the softened butter, lemon zest, vanilla extract, milk and eggs.
Beat all the ingredients in one bowl using a hand or stand mixer, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl halfway through.
Spread the batter into a lined rectangular cake tin and bake! It really is THAT easy.
Make the pink glaze. Crush a handful of blueberries with lemon juice (or water) and strain their juice.
Mix the juice with icing sugar, adding water as needed, to create a thick but spreadable glaze. If you don’t have any berries you can use a little food colouring to tint your icing.
Spread the glaze over the cooled cake using an offset spatula.
Sprinkle with the coconut or add some sugar strands, slice and enjoy!
TIPS and FAQS
Can I bake this as a round cake? Yes, you can use a 23cm / 9 inch cake tin and bake for 55-1 hour. You will end up with a rather tall cake however. Ideally this should be baked as a traybake in a rectangular cake tin.
How do I know my cake is done? The cake is done when well risen, springy to the touch and just coming away from the edges of the cake tin. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean.
Can I use food colouring for the icing? Yes, simply add a few drops of gel food colouring such as Americolor in Electric Pink.
How many calories in a slice? There’s approximately 320 calories per slice if you cut this cake into 20 squares.
- 350 g ( 2¾ cups) plain flour (all purpose flour or cake flour)
- 330 g (1 ⅔ cups) sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200 g (7/8 cup) softened butter or margarine such as Stork
- 4 medium eggs
- 120 ml (½ cup) whole or semi skimmed milk room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1 lemon zest only
For the icing & decoration
- 2 tbsp blueberries fresh or frozen and thawed
- 2 lemons juiced
- 480 g (4 cups) icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- water, as needed to thin the icing
- 3 tbsp desiccated coconut (or use sprinkles)
- Preheat the oven to 170C (340F). Mist a rectangular tin with cake release and line with baking paper letting the edges hang over the sides.
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonade of soda in a large mixing bowl and mix together to combine.
- Add the softened butter, eggs, milk, vanilla and lemon zest.
- Start beating at lowest speed setting until ingredients come together. Increase the speed to maximum and beat until the batter is completely smooth – about 30 seconds to one minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl halfway through.
- Transfer batter to the prepared cake tin and level using a spatula.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is golden and feels springy to the touch. A skewer or knife inserted in the centre should come out clean – if not cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Lift the cake out of the tin using the overhanging paper and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Make the pink icing
- Put blueberries and lemon juice in a bowl and crush the berries with the back of a spoon and strain the juice.
- Mix the juice, icing sugar, vanilla extract and water to make the pink icing. Add the water gradually, only adding as much as you need to create a thick but spreadable glaze.
- Spread the icing over the cake using an offset spatula.
- Add the coconut before the glaze sets and leave to dry.
- Slice the cake into squares using a serrated knife and make sure to share!
- If you are using self raising flour then add only 1 tsp baking powder (no baking soda).
- Unless specified otherwise all your ingredients including butter eggs and milk should be at room temperature in order to achieve a smooth batter. If one or more of the ingredients are cold they will cause your batter to split or look curdled.
- If your milk is cold from the fridge then heat briefly in the microwave or saucepan until just tepid. Make sure the milk is body temperature – not too hot!
- Place cold eggs into warm water for five minutes to bring them back to room temperature.
- Cut cold butter into cubes and leave for an hour on your counter to warm up or use margarine (Stork).
- This is a great cake for bake sales and parties as it serves a big crowd. It keeps well in an airtight container for 2-3 days if you want to keep it all to yourself!
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