RECIPE: Make our old school chocolate oaties

Follow our recipe for school-style chocolate oaties- an oat chocolate cake/biscuit base topped with

Follow our recipe for school-style chocolate oaties- an oat chocolate cake/biscuit base topped with chocolate icing Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

This cake/slice is still popular in some schools today -and now you can recreate it at home.

Nearly 15 years ago, on a blazing summer’s day, I attended the christening of my friends’ daughter – who happens to share the same birthday and name as my own, Ella – at a flower festooned rural church.

That day is memorable to our gang of friends for myriad reasons. For Ella’s parents it was a lovely family get-together. Many of my mates remember it as the day I accidentally flashed my underwear (without realising – they don’t let me forget). But, for me, it’s the day I became acquainted with a confection known as chocolate yum.

I’ve got an almost eidetic memory for food, and my first encounter of chocolate yum is up there with my introduction to brownies. Aged nine, head-to-toe in Lion King merch and singing songs from Oliver with my pal Amy, the tantalising metallic crinkle of foil being unscrunched inside a tin beckoned. Said tin was the vessel for sticky, gooey, crisp-edged bars of chocolate scrumptiousness. I was hooked – and remain so to this day.

Anyway, back to the christening. My friend has a huge family, and when they get together it’s a big pot-luck affair of tarts, quiches, salads and gigantic bowls of crisps. Amongst the puds – Victoria sponge, maybe a trifle, was a pile of craggy chocolate slices.

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“What are those?” I enquired. “Ah, my mum made them,” Ella’s dad replied. “She makes a great fudge cake too.”

When I put the cake in my mouth I had the same epiphany as my nine-year-old self. The oaty, crumbly chocolate wedge was somewhere between a cake and chocolate crunch. It was smothered in a blanket of sweet chocolate icing – drizzling down the sides with a treasure trove of it nestled and thickened in the corners.

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It transpired that my mate’s mum Ruth used to be a school cook, and the cake was something she baked up regularly on her watch. When I spoke to a bakery in Norfolk recently about their old school cakes, they brought up chocolate oaties – which I was delighted to learn were one and the same. We never had them at my Suffolk primary school but it appears they were the ‘in thing’ across the borders in Essex and Norfolk.

I’ve been lucky enough to eat lots of what we all call Ian’s Mum’s Chocolate Yum over the years, and even had a batch delivered on my birthday. Last week the final slivers of it were revived from the freezer and I decided I absolutely had to have more, baking up a batch myself.

It’s a little darker and richer (reduce the cocoa powder to 15g if you want the original version) and very moreish, but Ruth’s will always be the original and the best.

The cake is quite crumbly by nature so I recommend giving it a day in the freezer before cutting. Enjoy your trip down memory lane.

Chocolate Oaties

(Makes a 20cmsq or 20cm x 15cm rectangular deep baking tray)


250g butter or margarine

150g caster sugar

1tbsp golden syrup

175g porridge oats

150g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

1tsp baking powder

pinch salt

For the icing:

4tbsps each milk, butter or margarine and cocoa powder

220g icing

To finish (optional) 200g milk or dark chocolate, melted


Set the oven to 180C and grease and line your tin.

Melt the butter and syrup for the cake gently and add the oats, flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well and press evenly and firmly into your tin. Bake for 20 minutes until slightly risen and firm. Allow to cool. Melt the butter and milk for the icing and sieve in the icing sugar and cocoa. Stir over a low heat for a couple of minutes then remove to a bowl and whip with an electric whisk until cool and a little thickened. Spread over the cooled cake and finish, if you like, by spreading over the melted chocolate. Pop in the freezer for a spell before cutting.