As you know, I make a lot of layer cakes.  They are so much fun for me, and I spend plenty of time dreaming up new combinations of cakes, fillings, frostings, and garnish.  Sometimes though, I just want plain ol’ cake.  Cake to eat when the kids are finally in bed for the night.  Cake to enjoy with a big glass of milk.  Cake with no frills, no fuss, just good texture and even better taste.  This cake would never win in a beauty contest against some fancier varieties, but make no mistake about it – this is still very good cake.

If the word “oatmeal” in the title is a bit off-putting, don’t be fooled.  This bears no resemblance to the stuff we eat for breakfast.  It simply gives the cake a nice sturdy texture and a tiny bit of chew.  The broiled icing takes just minutes to mix up and is akin to a quick version of the filling or topping for a German chocolate cake.   As far as time and effort go, this is a very quick and easy dessert.  I was able to mix up the cake batter and have it in the oven in the few minutes it takes my little piglet to inhale her squash puree before she is handed off to me for her nightcap of milk.  She goes to sleep, the icing is browned, and poof!  Cake for dessert.

  • Yield 1 8x8 inch pan


For the cake:
1 cup quick-cooking oats (not old fashioned or instant oats)
¾ cup water, at room temperature
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the icing:
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tbsp. milk
¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ cup pecans, chopped


  • 01

    To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the oats and water.  Stir together, then let sit until absorbed, about 5 minutes.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and sugars and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-4 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl as needed.  Blend in the egg and vanilla until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions and mix just until incorporated.  Add in the soaked oats and mix until combined, about 15 seconds.

  • 02

    Spread the batter into the prepared pan and tap lightly against the counter to remove any air bubbles.  Smooth with a spatula.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.  Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, at least 10 minutes.

  • 03

    While the cake cools, place an oven rack about 9 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler.  In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, melted butter and milk.  Stir in the coconut and pecans.  Spread the mixture evenly over the warm cake.  Return the pan to the oven and broil until the topping is bubbling and golden, about 3-5 minutes.  Let cool in the pan at least 1 hour.  Use the foil to lift the cake from the pan, then discard.  Slice and serve.