Friday, October 7, 2011

Baked Sunday Mornings: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with (Cream Cheese Frosting) Coconut, Pecan Topping

I’ve run into several people over the past few months who are not “cake” people.  They are “pie” people, or “cookie” monsters, or “ice cream” lovers, but cake does not excite them.  Maybe a good cheesecake, but not cake-cake.

When I ask, “Why?” they answer that  cake is dry, or it lacks good flavor, or has nasty frosting or too much frosting, or needs something to wash it down, or it is just made from a box, or it is too sweet, leaving one feeling sick, or it tastes like a sponge covered in Crisco icing.  Who wants to really eat one of these kinds of traditional birthday cake?  Many feel that the birthday or wedding cake is just for tradition or for a candle-blowing-out moment...not really for eating.

I admit that in my younger years there were not many cakes I enjoyed: 
German chocolate cake (because I liked the special topping)  
Carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting
Grandma’s lemon sponge cake with a lemony icing
Oatmeal cake, again with a special topping   

NEVER anything from a box!

My mom could ruin the German chocolate cake as she liked to use Nestle’s hot chocolate mix instead of cocoa powder.  Unbelievable...she did it to brownies too, and still does to this day.  “We like a mild chocolate.” she says.  She’s an all-around good cook, but cake was never a specialty.  And she’ll never understand chocolate.

And I remember years of no butter in the house.  It was the Crisco and margarine era.  Butter was considered “bad for you,” but now it’s the other way around.

Growing up, cake usually came from a box, and for women in my mother’s age group (she's 84), cakes still do.   And judging from the large space given to  boxed cake mixes in grocery stores, that’s where most cakes still originate...and frostings too.   In the past there was one good use, but since we can no longer take home-kitchen made cupcakes into the school room to share for a child's birthday, I don't understand why anyone would use a boxed cakemix...EVER!

And that’s the problem with most cakes.  The typical person does not the choice is store bought cake with shortening frosting, or if they do bake, they are unwilling to use the best ingredients or methods.

The good thing about those boxed goods was that I could bake a cake all by myself at the age of 6; boxed cake and jello were my specialties.  When my mom had her daily nap...I was the oldest of 5 closely spaced kids and we wore her out...I ruled the kitchen. (My siblings remember I ruled with a sturdy wooden spoon.) I'll bet I made lots of sticky floors, but my mom never complained.  Back then, before all the kid safety, my mom thought it was great to wake up to the foods I had cooked.  Yes, I did get burned or cut on occasion, but I learned fast.  (There was a neighborhood market, Ernie's store, only 1 block from our house and I could take my small change and purchase dinner ingredients...yes, a quarter bought something back then....I remember cake mixes being 4/$100.)
Today’s Oatmeal Cake is a treasure.  I’ve always loved this type of cake, however, I could not get excited about a cream cheese frosting.   Like German chocolate cake, this cake traditionally comes with a special topping made with a caramely-coconut-pecan type of ingredient list.  I decided to go with tradition.
With all the oats, this cake is great for breakfast, and of course, it is perfect at any other every time I walk into the kitchen.  And, I noticed everyone coming into the kitchen had the same problem. Before the cake had cooled, it had been mostly eaten.  This cake can’t miss...has all the flavors found in my favorite chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe.

This is a moist, dense cake, and adding chocolate chips made a lovely treat.  My traditional recipe does not call for chocolate chips, however, adding the chips gives me a new way to enjoy this dessert.   And I do appreciate good chocolate.  Not long ago I baked a version of this cake that is a chocolate-chocolate chip oatmeal cake with a chocolate ganache topping; also very good.

This is a fun cake to bake...made with typical pantry items... and more fun to eat.  I’m sure  those “not cake” people just need to try some of these kinds of yummy cakes and they may change their minds.  With good ingredients, lots of flavor,  a  moist texture, and a great topping,  I’m sure this cake could turn more dessert eaters into cake choosers.

And being a baker who reads cookbooks and baking blogs for nighttime relaxation, I now enjoy many, many great cakes; way too many to list.

I’m interested to see how my cyberfriend’s cakes turned out...especially interested to see this cake dressed in a cream cheese frosting.  It will be fun to read your reviews.

Recipe for my coconut-pecan topping:
Makes a generous amount; enough for two 9 X 13 cakes

1 1/2 (2 sticks) Cups butter
2 1/2 Cups brown sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 ½  Cups coconut
2 Cups chopped pecans

Using a heavy saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and evaporated milk.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla, coconut, and pecans.  Spread on warm Oatmeal Cake.


  1. Tricia and I had a great time in France, so much to see and do, and EAT.
    I love that recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cake, just bookmarked it for future
    reference come this winter. Hubby and I enjoyed this week's recipe,
    so simple and quick.

  2. This looks so wonderfully gooey, Kris! What a fabulous idea to make it with a pecan topping so it is more like a sticky cake. We really enjoyed this recipe and like yours it disappeared in no time.

    I enjoyed your memories of baking with mixes. I started baking the same way and the very first cake I remember was the Boston Cream Pie out of the box. Loved that one and my dad loved it when I made it. :) Great memories, huh?

  3. Although I really enjoyed the Cream Cheese Frosting, I think I'd like yours even better! I love coconut! I have an Oatmeal Cake recipe from my grandmother that is more like your version. I'll have to make it soon so we can compare.

    And - I have no idea what is up with people who don't like cake! Maybe they've only been eating purchased ones, or cakes made from mixes? As for me, I'd take a piece of cake baked by you every time!

  4. that cake must have been soooo good, especially warm with that topping! what a great idea!

  5. I love your cake and your story telling. I like the way that you were creative with the topping (although I did love the cream cheese frosting).

  6. This is a fine looking cake - and I much prefer your topping to the cream cheese. Me, I love cakes, and cookies don't appear on my radar much.

  7. Wow, 4 cake mixes for $1.00 that was a steal! I enjoyed your post on cake baking. I remember when we only had margarine too b/c it was supposed to be "good" for us. Thank goodness all of that has changed!

    Your cake looks absolutely scrumptious-- so moist and perfect and I love that caramel pecan topping! I have to try this!!

  8. Wow! That looks indescribably delicious!