Fam­ily din­ners have always been an impor­tant part of my life. Fam­ily din­ners with cake, espe­cially, have always been an impor­tant part of my life. And the best din­ners are those fea­tur­ing oat­meal cake with coconut topping.

I remem­ber as a kid my par­ents, broth­ers and I used to head over to my grand­par­ents’ house for Sun­day din­ner after church. All my aunts, uncles and numer­ous cousins would gather to tell out­ra­geous sto­ries, build and fix things (my fam­ily is always build­ing and fix­ing things) while my grand­mother cooked a tra­di­tional South­ern din­ner and my grand­fa­ther escaped to the gar­den to tend his roses.

My grandmother’s din­ners never had fewer than, say, 15 bowls and heap­ing plates on the table—fried chicken, col­lard greens, mashed pota­toes and gravy, oniony cole slaw, lima beans, angel bis­cuits, salty Vir­ginia ham, green beans. And the desserts. Oh, the desserts!

We would eat in shifts because there wasn’t enough room at the table for every­one. After­words, the women (no, never the men) would pitch in and clean the kitchen.

I remem­ber one Sun­day my Aunt Mar­garet had fin­ished up in the kitchen and decided to mop and wax my grandmother’s floor. I watched on, chat­ting, as she put the fin­ish­ing touches and finally man­aged to wax her way into a corner.

Oh no! Here I am in this cor­ner and the floor’s all wet. I guess I’ll just stand here until it’s dry,” she declared.

No! You can just walk out and wax over your foot­steps,” I said, my five-year-old self proud of com­ing up with the solution.

Of course, my Aunt Mar­garet was always the kid­der and had let me come up with the solu­tion. Still, it’s a fond memory—well, that and the cake.

My hus­band loves this cake so much he nearly dances when he real­izes that I have made one. And he keeps saying—over and over again—“Have I men­tioned how much I love this cake?”

Now, if this chocolate-loving gal says that she loves an oat­meal cake, you can take it to the bank that this is a good cake. And it’s one of those amaz­ing cakes that only get bet­ter with time.

So make it now and make some­one happy.

Oat­meal Cake with Coconut Top­ping 1 1/4 cup boil­ing water 1 cup old fash­ioned oats 8 table­spoons (1 stick) but­ter 1 cup white sugar 1 cup brown sugar 2 eggs 1 tea­spoon bak­ing soda 1 tea­spoon cin­na­mon 1 1/3 cups flour pinch of salt

Pre­heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour boil­ing water over oats and let stand for 15 min­utes. In a mixer, cream together but­ter, white and brown sug­ars. Add eggs. In a sep­a­rate bowl, mix together bak­ing soda, cin­na­mon, flour and salt. Grad­u­ally add the flour mix­ture to the sugar, but­ter and egg mix­ture until well blended. Stir in the oatmeal/water mix­ture until well com­bined. Pour into a 9 x 13″ bak­ing pan. (I use a Pyrex bak­ing pan.) Bake at 350 degrees for 35 min­utes or until a knife inserted into the mid­dle comes out clean. Top with top­ping after the cake cools for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Coconut Top­ping 8 table­spoons (1 stick) but­ter (brought to room tem­per­a­ture) 1 cup brown sugar 1 1/2 cups fresh grated coconut 1 tea­spoon vanilla 1/8 to 1/4 cup milk

Blend all the ingre­di­ents together until well mixed. Pour over warm (but not hot) cake and spread evenly.


By the way, if you haven’t voted on a chicken name for The Chicken For­merly Known as Min­nie Ruth, please do so now.  I really don’t want to name this chicken Johnny.

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  • Gail says:


    What a delight­ful story…your aunt was a good soul to let you find the solu­tion! My Mr I would love this cake…he so adores oat­meal and coconut. We for­give him for not lik­ing choco­late because he has so many other good qualities!

    Happy Christ­mas!


  • Barbee' says:

    Oh, what a fun story. Great post!

  • Mmmm. Just right for a sweet treat on a cold win­ter day. (And the wind chill is minus 14 here in Boston this morn­ing.) Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for shar­ing. And I loved the descrip­tion of meals at your grandmother’s. My expe­ri­ence was exactly the same. How did they do that??

  • Celia says:

    The recipe does not say when to add the oats.

    It is unfor­tu­nate that I started this recipe before real­iz­ing it.

    I hope you fig­ured it out! Thanks for point­ing out the omis­sion. I have included the instruc­tion to add the oatmeal/water mix­ture before pour­ing into the cake pan.


  • OMG, I’d for­got­ten all about this cake! I used to make it ALL the time! I’ll have to sur­prise my hus­band one of these days and make it again. Thanks for the reminder and also the reminiscing.

  • Barbara says:

    Well, I’m com­ing late to this party. Just found your blog and was read­ing the older posts when I saw this recipe. I made it yes­ter­day and oh, my — ***** five stars for sure!

    I had a piece, and then I had another piece, and then I packed up some to take home with me (made it at my sister’s where I cook for my mother & brother-in-law when sis is working).

    Thank you, Robin!

  • Hilary says:

    Made the oat­meal cake…and we LOVED it. It was fan­tas­tic!!!!
    Thanks so much.

  • sandy says:

    Sounds yum­m­mmy !
    It seems it could be
    very suc­cess­fully mod­i­fied for low-carb and wheat intol­er­ant folks by sim­ply reduc­ing or replac­ing the flour with almond meal (like fine corn­meal but made from almonds).

    I am going to try this on Fri­day for potluck night.

    Also would be great as a pineap­ple upside down cake.

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