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.