Oatmeal Cake with Walnut-Coconut Topping

oatmeal cake

“Ask your mom to give my mom that cake recipe, OK?” I asked my classmate at Buckeye South junior high. “OK,” replied Susan Zambon. Next thing you know, my mother was baking Susan’s mother’s dense, moist oatmeal cake with the coconut walnut topping. Four decades later, I’m now baking that cake for my 94-year-old mother. Everyone who tastes it wants the recipe, too. Here it is, with slight modifications from the Ohio Valley original.

Because the cake doesn’t rise very much, using the 9 x 13” baking pan favored back in the 1970s results in a fairly flat confection (maybe 2 inches high). You might want to use a smaller cake pan. Or do what I do, and increase the amount of ingredients in the batter by 50 percent. I’ve included the increased proportions in brackets.

Another note: I tend to use a little less sugar, and a bit more nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla in the cake batter than called for in the original recipe. Adjust to your liking as you go along. The batter tastes almost as good as the cake.

Oatmeal Cake With Coconut-Walnut Icing

Oatmeal Cake With Coconut-Walnut Icing


Cake batter

• 1 cup dry rolled oats [1 ½ cups oats]

• 1 ½ cups boiling water [2 ¼ cups boiling water]

• ½ cup butter or margarine [3/4 cup butter or margarine]

• 1 cup brown sugar [up to 1 ½ cups brown sugar]

• 1 cup white sugar [up to 1 ½ cups white sugar]

• 1 ½ cups cake flour [2 ¼ cups cake flour]

• 2 eggs [3 eggs]

• 1 tsp baking powder [1 ½ tsp baking powder]

• 1 tsp baking soda [1 ½ tsp baking soda]

• 1 tsp cinnamon [1 ½ to 2 tsp cinnamon]

• ½ tsp nutmeg [3/4 to 1 tsp nutmeg]

• ½ tsp salt [3/4 tsp salt]

• 1 teaspoon vanilla [1 ½ to 2 tsp vanilla]


• 4 TB butter

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

• 1 cup coconut flakes

• 1/4 cup heavy cream

• 2 tsp vanilla



    Preheat oven to 350°F. Put butter or margarine and oats in a large bowl. Add boiling water and allow the oatmeal mixture to sit for 20 minutes while you make the cake batter.

    Combine sugars, cake flour, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the oatmeal mixture and stir until the ingredients are combined. Lightly coat the baking pan with a floured baking spray, and pour in the cake batter. Bake in the center rack of a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


    As the cake cools, make the topping on the stovetop.

    Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.

    Add in the brown sugar, coconut flakes, chopped nuts, and vanilla.

    Add in the heavy cream.

    Stir until the ingredients have melted and the flavors have melded.

    Pour over the cooled cake.



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