I first tried this oatmeal cake at an awesome microbrew where I worked as a waiter a few years ago. The restaurant served some of the best food I’ve ever had, but I was usually pretty stingy with my employee meals since I had to use my own money to pay for them (we even had a 50% discount. Like I said, stingy). The few foods that I nevertheless couldn’t resist were the burgers, the wings, and this oatmeal cake. It’s my kind of cake. Hearty and chewy like a good carrot cake, interesting texture and flavors from the topping, and not too sweet or covered in frosting that it would leave me feeling gross.
After my time at the restaurant, I always wanted to try the oatmeal cake again, but wasn’t sure where to find the recipe. Luckily, I’ve ended up spending a lot of my life around the Mennonite community, and this cake started my Menno-sense tingling. It seemed like the kind of hearty, practical, traditional-yet-innovative idea that could only come from the Mennonites with their Pennsylvania Dutch roots and love for food well made.
I was right. Flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, a Mennonite favorite called the More-With-Less cookbook, there was the cake! It was tucked away in a little corner with no picture whatsoever, but I recognized it immediately. So now Rachel and I have the ability to make it whenever we want, and I decided you might enjoy trying it as well.
Just as a note, I did decide to modify the recipe somewhat from the original. I always like to see if desserts can get away with less sugar or butter, and in this case it worked out really well to reduce some of the richness. Since we made this for ourselves during the week and not for some event, we figured the slightly healthier version would be a good way to enjoy a random dessert while still trying to live simply. Feel free to track down the original recipe if you want the full-fat version, it’s definitely worth it as well.
Oatmeal Cake Recipe
1 cup quick oats or chopped rolled oats
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
3-4 tablespoons butter
Mix the oats and the boiling water and set aside for a few minutes.
Cream together the sugar and eggs, then the applesauce, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Add in the oatmeal mixture.
Sift the dry ingredients together, then mix into the wet stuff.
Pour into a 9×13″ pan, and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Mix the ingredients for the topping, and spread over the top of the cake while it’s hot.
Broil for 2-4 minutes, until the topping is browned and awesome. Alternatively, if you have a torch, you can do it like we did at the restaurant and crisp each piece of cake right before you serve it.
Hope you like it!
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