Weird Oatmeal Cake, and Baking Fever

Oatmeal Cake
It’s been an odd evening. On the way home, I decided I wanted to try this recipe for “My Best Oatmeal Cake”. The photo above is directly from the recipe page, but let me tell you, I don’t think there’s an iota of a chance that this recipe was used to make the cake in that photo. And the funny part is, it’s actually quite good! But it couldn’t possibly ever look like the cake in that photograph, unless the plate it’s on is actually a novelty mini-plate of some kind to go with mini-bundt pans. Mine looked more like this.

short flat oatmeal cake

See how short that cake is? You could NOT get a bundt out of this recipe. Seriously. I wanted to bake something that would counter the decadence of the fantastic Cream Cheese Pound Cake I made over the weekend, and at first glance this seemed to be the right recipe. It was shortly before I was ready to start that I saw it called for an 8-inch fluted pan. My bundt pan — a freebie from Scratchy from her days working on Martha Stewart’s show — is 9.75 inches. No go. My angel food cake pan, which I’ve never used before, is 9 inches, so I figured that would do, and it’s fluted. Fluted! After those two, I’m out of flutes. Step one, boil some water.


I measured out the quick-cooking oats, poured the water on them, and set the timer for 20 minutes.

oats with boiling water

Since I had to wait anyway, I decided to get ahead and creamed the butter & sugars together. It didn’t get as creamy as such mixtures usually do, but I figured the oats would help with that when the time came.

butter & sugars

That took care of the first two minutes. Hmm. How about the dry ingredients? I combined the flour (whole wheat white), baking soda, salt, cinnamon (about two teaspoons instead of the suggested 1/2 teaspoon), then added some freshly grated nutmeg and some pumpkin pie spice, about a 1/2 teaspoon of each.

dry ingredients

I looked at the timer. Still had ten minutes to go. I put some dishes away. Nine minutes. The phrase that kept coming to mind was, “Still, there was the little bowl of oats, just waiting.” That will only sound familiar to those who have read Kevin Henkes’ lovely children’s book Kitten’s First Full Moon.

Kitten's First Full Moon

The kitten sees the moon in the sky and thinks it’s a bowl of milk, and has little kitten-y adventures to try to get to it, and the book features the repeated phrase “Still, there was the little bowl of milk, just waiting.” That’s what I kept thinking as I looked at the oatmeal. I did some of the dishes. Still, there was the little bowl of oats, just waiting. I cleaned out the coffee maker. Still, there was the little bowl of oats, just waiting. I sprayed the angel food cake pan with Baker’s Joy. Still, there was the little bowl of oats, just waiting. With one minute to go, I took the plunge and cracked the egg into the bowl. Ding! The oats were ready and in they went.

oats, egg, batter

Here’s where things get dicey. Remember my 9-inch fluted pan that was supposed to be 8 inches? I don’t think having an 8-inch pan would’ve helped anyway. There was so little batter to this when it was done, that this is what I ended up with:

small batter in big pan

Look at all that space! I was worried I wouldn’t even be able to cover the bottom of the pan, but I did. The batter ended up being less than an inch thick. I put it into the oven, convinced that this was going to be a throwaway. In the spirit of deliciousness, I started pulling out the ingredients for back-up muffins. Pumpkin! Can’t go wrong. In the meantime, I could hear Nathaniel laughing his head off from the other room. Guess what he was watching? I Love Lucy.

I Love Lucy

My dad gave him the entire set on dvd for his 8th birthday, and his laughter as he watched was a very joyful sound indeed. What a kid. I took care of mixing up the batter for the Pumpkin Muffins, and watched the oven closely. It said to bake for “22-27” minutes (not 20-30, nope) and at 25, it was still just gooey batter. I re-focused on the back-up muffins. At just shy of 30 minutes, it had turned into cake. A small, flat cake, but cake nonetheless.

flat cake in pan

It looked even funnier when I separated the pieces of the pan to get it out into the fresh kitchen air. (You’ve seen it already, but here’s a reminder.)

flat cake without pan walls

And then I dusted it with confectioners sugar, and suddenly realized that I had no idea how to get it out of what was left of the pan. If it had been a large cake, I would have flipped the whole thing upside down onto a cooling rack, but it was so thin that it would have fallen apart long before it landed. Basically, I had on my hands a somewhat frail ring-shaped cake. In the meantime, the first batch of muffins was cooling on the counter, and I was waiting for the oven to heat back up to the right temperature before putting in the second tray. I surveyed my creations, and decided that I might actually be a little crazy. For real.

baking madness

But the muffins looked so good! Didn’t they?

pumpkin muffins

Back to the cake! I couldn’t just leave it on the pan, so I finally decided to just cut it in half and slide each half out and onto a plate. After it cooled completely, I tasted it. Wow! It’s actually really delicious! In fact, when I went to wrap it up at the end of the night, I saw that Dave had eaten almost a quarter of it. It has a lovely moist texture, and all the spices made it warmly flavorful. I know that sounds weird but I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s full of flavor in a comforting, enveloping sort of way. The bottom line: I’m not sure why the 8-inch fluted pan is specified, as it’s the only part that went wrong.  A nice square pan would make this cake taller and less silly-looking, and it’s delicious enough to make the experiment worthwhile. (The people at my office went haywire for it.) Just don’t expect a full-sized bundt cake, please. Images in recipe may be larger than they appear. Much larger. Delusionally larger. But very tasty! OATMEAL CAKE RECIPE PUMPKIN MUFFINS RECIPE

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