hearty oatmeal cake 17

hearty oatmeal cake

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

2 eggs

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.

hearty oatmeal cake

Cream together the sugar and eggs, then the applesauce, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Add in the oatmeal mixture.

hearty oatmeal cake

Sift the dry ingredients together, then mix into the wet stuff.

hearty oatmeal cake

Pour into a 9×13″ pan, and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick comes out clean.

hearty oatmeal cake

Mix the ingredients for the topping, and spread over the top of the cake while it’s hot.

hearty oatmeal cake

hearty oatmeal cake

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.

hearty oatmeal cake

Hope you like it!

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17 thoughts on “hearty oatmeal cake

  1. Reply Emma Mar 4, 2012 9:09 pm

    I clicked on this wondering if it would be like the oatmeal cake we’ve eaten at a certain microbrewery. Ha! I’ll definitely have to try this. (Oh, and weirdly, I’ve spent some of my life in the Mennonite world, too…)

  2. Reply Rebecca Sain Mar 4, 2012 10:16 pm

    I have two questions? Do you need to prepare the pan in any way? and, at what temperature do you bake it at?

  3. Reply Maria Mar 4, 2012 10:19 pm

    Hi – sounds great! What temperature do you bake the cake at before broiling?

  4. Reply Ann Mar 5, 2012 7:56 am

    What is 1.5 flour is that 1 1/2 cups

  5. Reply Jean Mar 8, 2012 4:11 pm

    Made this cake for my book club today. Fabulous! Quite possibly the best cake I’ve ever had and definitely the best I’ve ever made.

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  7. Reply Jessica Apr 4, 2012 10:23 am

    This sounds perfect for a light breakfast with some fruit for a brunch – with some mimosas – yum. I’m going to give it a shot with some alterations and I’ll let you know how it goes!

  8. Reply Howie Nov 9, 2012 7:24 am

    I know this post was a while ago but I just came across it.

    What an awesome little cake. I am losing weight so I replaced both the brown and white sugar in the cake with 1/2 cup of maple syrup and I used rice bran oil. For the topping I just mixed honey with the nuts, fresh coconut and I added some chopped dried apricots.

    It turned out really well, very tasty and because its a thin cake you can have a nice small slice! The only issue really is that the topping is a bit loose I think this is because I ran out of honey, it needed a bit more.

    I think I will be using this recipe a lot because you could add all sorts of stuff to change it around.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Reply Todd Nov 9, 2012 8:38 am

      Glad you liked it! I always like hearing the ways people substitute and experiment. I found with the topping that if you make sure the sugar gets actually melted either before applying or when you’re broiling, it helps everything stay together. Thanks Howie!

  9. Reply heather Mar 3, 2014 12:14 pm

    What if you dont have any applesauce

    • Reply Todd Mar 7, 2014 5:03 pm

      Oil and applesauce can usually be substituted for each other in this kind of recipe. I recommend finding some applesauce though!

  10. Reply Rose Apr 20, 2014 12:02 am

    I just made this for Easter brunch and it is excellent. Thank you so much for the recipe.

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