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Coconut-Topped Oatmeal Cake

This is an old-fashioned cake with mass appeal that was passed down from my husband's grandmother. It's a classic for everyone's recipe box. --Tamra Duncan
  • Total Time
    Prep: 15 min. + cooling Bake: 30 min.
  • Makes
    12-16 servings


  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • In a small bowl, pour boiling water over oats; let stand for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with the oat mixture, beating well after each addition.
  • Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and milk to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat; stir in the coconut, nuts and vanilla. Pour over warm cake. Cool completely.
Nutrition Facts
1 piece: 384 calories, 17g fat (10g saturated fat), 58mg cholesterol, 306mg sodium, 55g carbohydrate (42g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.
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  • Renee
    Nov 23, 2019

    I love this cake. I know it's the right one when I find Mrs. Duncan's name. This is one of the first things we made in a class that she taught. I wish I hadn't lost all my recipes. I would love to have the one for the marinated carrots we made. This cake always brings back lovely memories of a truly gracious lady who never stopped believing in us girls.

  • craigeryjohn
    Jan 24, 2016

    I'm not one to review recipes often, but I had to warn people on this one. Do yourself a favor; skip this one and find the authentic America's Test Kitchen version. I *thought* that's what I was getting here based on my Google search result (sneaky addition of that trademark in the text in this recipe).It's been a while since I made an oatmeal cake, so I didn't think anything of the ingredients. Wow. So runny; nearly twice as much liquid as the ATC version, and twice as much flour, too. Cloyingly sweet, and even in the first step where it says "cream butter and sugars until fluffy" isn't possible with this much sugar; it turns to sand. The topping was runny as well, not the awesome chunky consistency that the ATC version has. Very disappointed that I didn't catch this before I made the cake! :(

  • SheChef
    Feb 12, 2015

    This cake is amazing. I added a few tweaks. I used pumpkin pie spice and added a cup of grated apples. I also broiled the topping for approximately 5 minutes. I used toasted walnuts instead of pecans, too.

  • murrmc
    Oct 24, 2014

    This was excellent cake, everybody loved it. And it stayed so nice and moist for the 3 days it took us to eat it all up. Except for the use of 1/2 cup of an artificail brown sugar blend in place of the cup of brown sugar in the topping, (I ranout of brown sugar) I followed the reciped exactly. I will definitely make this cake again. Next time I'm going to add a couple of teaspoons of instant coffer granules to the oatmeal before adding the boiling water. I think that might give a little bit of coffee taste.

  • Violinstephanie
    Mar 16, 2014

    The cake was moist and dense, but there was way too much cinnamon. I used less than 1/2 tsp, but it was still too much. Unless you REALLY love cinnamon, I'd suggest being careful.

  • AbubalooBK
    Jan 6, 2014

    A MUST!

  • lhangel
    Dec 10, 2013

    Have made this many times, always a favorite. We like the topping as family does not like the traditional frostings, as they are too sweet.

  • AMusegades
    May 19, 2013

    YUMMY, nothing else to say!

  • zigzag55
    Jan 30, 2008

    this is amazing. i was looking for an cake like this that my grandma use to make for me when i was a little girl. and as i was writing this one down. it just sounds so much just like hers. so i called my mother and asked her and she said it was. but grandma use a little more oatmeal and coconut. so im gonna go with grandma' recipe instead of this one since mom email her recipe. thanks again. lisa in oregon.

  • rvpark
    Feb 11, 2006

    No comment left