Friday, August 22, 2014

Whole Grain Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing

A quick, easy cake with a coconut-pecan topping. 100% whole grain.

One of my college roommates, Rachel, was as fond of cooking as I was. And she had this great cookbook – The Joy of Cooking – that I fell in love with. My first favorite recipe from the cookbook's pages was Spinach with Currants and Pine Nuts. Rachel made it once and I was hooked.

I think the real reason I fell in love with Joy, though, was because it provided such a wealth of information on basic cooking techniques and ingredients. At that time, I was still pretty new to cooking – most of my childhood had been spent in the barn, not the kitchen.

After college, I lived without Joy until Glen bought me a copy for my birthday. For years, Joy and a spiral-bound collection of church recipes were my only cookbooks. My copy of Joy is now filled with bookmarks – including sticky notes, scraps of paper, a Dove chocolate wrapper, and junk mail envelopes. Many of the recipes are marked with the date I first tried them and the changes I made.

I still appreciate Joy's how-to advice. Even when I'm following a recipe from another cookbook or blog, I'll pull Joy out to reference a technique. Or when I'm trying to concoct a recipe of my own, I'll use a similar recipe from Joy to estimate quantities of ingredients or cooking times.

The date marked alongside the recipe for Oatmeal Sheet Cake is 4/10/2008. I can't remember what prompted me to try it that first time, but my notes say that it was "Excellent!"

I do remember that I made it another time that spring. And then I forgot about it. I really shouldn't have, because it's a super yummy cake that's really easy to make. I think my forgetfulness might have had something to do with the fact that we soon found out we had another baby on the way. That was the beginning of a period of time during which I did very little baking of any kind. Sadly, that period lasted so long that Dan asked me once, "Mom, why don't you bake cookies like Grandma does?"

Happily, that period in my life is over. Now, I bake quite a bit, usually as a form of stress relief and a way to procrastinate. And I am so glad that I remembered this cake a couple weeks ago. I will be baking it a lot more often.

Whole Grain Oatmeal Cake

Makes a 9x13 pan – about 12 - 16 servings


1 cup oatmeal (quick cook or old-fashioned)
1 ½ cups water

1 ⅓ cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose white flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter (salted or unsalted), softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla


Heat water to boiling and combine with oatmeal. Cover and let stand for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9 x 13 inch pan.

In small bowl, mix flour, soda, spices and salt together with fork.

In medium bowl, cream butter and sugars together. Mixture will be crumbly. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Then beat in oatmeal. Stir flour mixture into batter with large spatula. Pour batter into pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

While cake is baking, prepare icing, below. Allow cake to cool slightly before icing.

Broiled Icing


1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
6 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup shredded sweetened dried coconut


Melt butter in medium bowl. Add sugar, cream, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. Stir in pecans and coconut.

After cake has cooled slightly, preheat broiler and spread icing evenly over cake. Place cake 4 inches below the broiler. Broil until icing is bubbly all over, about 1 to 3 minutes. Rotate pan after one minute so that icing broils evenly. Watch constantly so that icing does not burn.

Cake recipe adapted from Oatmeal Sheet Cake in The Joy of Cooking.
Icing recipe from The Joy of Cooking

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