Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing

You know when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you shouldn’t do something but you just can’t stop yourself? For me, these situations tend to involve that second helping of bread pudding, that third (cough::fourth::cough) margarita, or those boots that I just cannot physically leave the store without despite the 10 other pairs currently in my closet. This cake was one of those situations.

I’ve had this cake a million times. It’s one of my mother’s recipes and it is cracktastically good. I’m sure it came from a cookbook originally, but honestly, I have no idea what it might have been. After an unfruitful internet search, all I was able to determine was that this seems to be a pretty oldschool recipe that lots of people have versions of and no one attributes to any one source. So as far as I’m concerned, this is my mum’s. Props to her, because it doesn’t get better than this.

This is what I consider a snack cake. It’s not for special occasions, it’s not particularly gorgeous, it’s just to have around when you want something easy and omgood. It’s great for dessert, of course, but its equally good in the afternoon with a cup of coffee…or for breakfast after your real breakfast…or every single time you pass the kitchen…or every single time you make an excuse to pass the kitchen. This cake is dangerous. I like to play the “just a sliver” game. Half a pan later, the cake always wins. I knew better.

The fabulous thing about this cake is that, except for the coconut, it really is made from pantry staples. Even better, it only takes about an hour from setting out the mixer to stuffing your face. The cake itself  has a crazy-moist texture (note: I can’t bring myself to use the term “crumb” as in “it has a moist crumb.” I just think it seems so pretentious. I just tried typing it and I couldn’t. I’m sure I’ll get over this eventually.) and, despite the good dose of sugar, isn’t very sweet. But obviously, the icing is where it’s at. You top the warm cake with a simple mixture of brown sugar, coconut, milk and a little melted butter and then pop the whole thing under the broiler until the sugar bubbles. What you end up with a is a caramelized, creamy, crunchy topping with a texture like maple candy that melts in your mouth. I pawned the majority of the cake off on my coworkers; I knew I couldn’t be trusted around it. Making this was a bad bad bad idea. One of the best bad ideas I’ve had in a while.

Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing

Recipe from my mum. Serves 1 🙂

This recipe is for a 9×13″ (14 cup volume) pan. For ease of picture taking and transportation, I split it into an 8″ square pan (6 cup volume) and a 9″ round pan (8 cup volume). Feel free to split it however you like, but make sure you pay attention to your final volume. I found the Joy of Baking website really really helpful. I would have liked the cake a tiny bit thicker, so next time I’ll probably use slightly smaller pans. I think this would be fun as a rustic layer cake- bake two smaller cakes, broil the toppings on each, then layer ’em up. Rad. Now, I suppose you could add nuts to the topping, but honestly, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


1.5 c. boiling water
1 c. rolled oats (you can use quick cooking oats, but rolled will have more texture)
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1.5 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon

Topping (ie, heaven)

4 T. butter, melted
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. cocount (I used sweetened flaked)
4 T. milk

  • Heat oven to 350° F
  • Pour the boiling water over the oats. Cool (I’m never patient enough to wait for it to cool and it always works out. That said, if you’re even slightly more patient than me [ie, anyone], you should let it cool a bit so it doesn’t melt your butter)
  • Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer
  • Add the eggs, vanilla and salt and mix until combined
  • Stir in the cooled oatmeal
  • In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and cinnamon
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined
  • Pour into a greased (I use Pam) 9×13″ pan
  • Bake 25-30 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  • While the cake bakes, mix all of the topping ingredients together
  • Spread the topping evenly-ish on the hot cake
  • Place the cake under the broiler until the sugar bubbles (fairly vigorously). Remove and devour


5 thoughts on “Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing

  1. My mother makes something like this too and it is cracktastic and dangerous to have around! 🙂 LOVE THAT NEW WORD! I have not heard it before. Blogs are really adding to my vocabulary. My recipe for this is with Bisquick mix so I am so happy to have a from scratch recipe!

  2. OMG, Now I have to make one for myself, all to myself…:) not a bad thing. I haven’t had it for years, but I think it is time.

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