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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8 Responses to “Remembering Family Dinners–and oh, That Oatmeal Cake with Coconut Topping”

  1. 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!


  2. Barbee' Says:

    Oh, what a fun story. Great post!

  3. Judy Lowe/Diggin' It Says:

    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??

  4. 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.


  5. Kylee from Our Little Acre Says:

    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.

  6. 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!

  7. Hilary Says:

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

  8. 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.

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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