Versatile oatmeal breakfast cake


This is a hearty breakfast cake you can pick up and eat. No fork needed! 

We make a lot of oatmeal at our house, which gets recycled into an oatmeal breakfast cake about once a week. If I’ve added apples or blueberries to the oatmeal, then that goes into the cake, too.

But plain old oatmeal cake is pretty tasty – enough so that, topped with my homemade caramel frosting, it makes a company-worthy dessert. Last summer I took this cake to the 4-H Foundation Bake Sale labeled as “Caramel Apple Cake.” Every piece sold.

In terms of making the cake, it really couldn’t be simpler.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Start with 2 cups cooked oatmeal in a saucepan. (The oatmeal shown below had been stored in the fridge, so it was cold and clumpy. Nothing to worry about.) Add 1 stick butter (I substitute applesauce if I have any on hand) and ½ cup each of brown sugar and white sugar, then turn burner about halfway between low and medium to melt the butter. Stir the sugars into the butter as you go, breaking up the oatmeal in the process.


Step 3: While keeping an eye on the pot on the stove, measure out 1 ⅓ cups flour. Add 1 teaspoon soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients until well mixed.


Step 4: When butter is melted in the pot on the stove, the lumps have been stirred out of the oatmeal and the sugars have “disappeared” into the mixture, remove the pan from heat.


Note that the cold, clumpy oatmeal we started with is getting into mixture mode even before the butter is completely melted. 

Step 5: Beat two eggs in a bowl, then add to the warm mixture once you feel confident the temperature has come down enough that the eggs won’t start cooking in the pot.


Note: Given that I’m generally in a hurry, I often break the eggs right into the pot and beat them into the mixture. But my mom has always warned that this is a bad idea, because if there’s blood in the eggs (or anything else that looks yucky), then you’ve ruined your mixture. In more than half a century I never recalled seeing this happen – until one day a few years ago when the whole family was gathered over at my parents’ house and somebody cracked a bloody eyeball of an egg into whatever we were cooking and we had to throw the entire batch out. It made quite an impression on all of us, and so now I always remember this step (even if I occasionally choose to disregard the  warning and proceed anyway).

Step 6: When the beaten  eggs have been mixed into the warm liquid ingredients, add the dry mixture. Stir well.

Step 7: Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, using a toothpick or fork to make sure the center is no longer gooey before removing from the oven.


Cake’s done! 

Step 8: Eat!

Recipe for optional caramel frosting, if making this cake as a dessert:

(Note: This comes from p. 53 of the 1996 Wells County Extension Homemakers Cookbook, where it is attributed to a contributor named Aileen Mertz. I’ve been making it for many years as a topping for my homemade cinnamon rolls.)

½ cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup milk

2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar and boil over low heat 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk, stirring until mixture boils. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Gradually beat in powdered sugar.


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