It was hard to get my baking accomplished this weekend, but if I could go back and do it all again, I wouldn't change a thing. I just spent the weekend with 8 of the sweetest 6th graders on the planet. My church holds a youth conference each year called Disciple Now. Students travel to the homes of generous church members to spend two days worshiping God, studying His Word, and having fun. I was a family group leader, responsible for leading the gals through Bible studies and refereeing the occasional pillow fight.
My short time with those bright, silly, beautiful, brilliant young ladies was so rewarding -- partly because at first, it didn't feel like it was going very well. They were exhausted Friday when we arrived home after worship, and were in no state for the Bible study we had planned. Sleepiness, pointed watch-checking, and delirium ensued. I lay in bed that night and reiterated the prayer I'd prayed upon arriving at the event earlier in the afternoon: Lord, I know Your strength is made perfect in my weakness, and right now, I'm feeling very weak! Please come make this work for Your glory.
The next day, I spoke with other group leaders who had experienced that very same moment of brokenness late Friday night. My Bible study leader revealed that she had woken up at 3 am that morning with the urge to pray for us. I'm so thankful for her prayers and the faithfulness of God -- because the fantastic time spent with the girls Saturday was not my doing, but His! Apart from wheelbarrow relay races, crabwalking, screaming contests, an obstacle course, and a whole lot of giggling, we had an amazing discussion of what it means to live a "backwards life" for Christ (here is a site where you can download a free copy of the devotional book we worked through on this topic). The girls revealed their hearts -- friends they were praying for, their struggles in faith. At one point, we made a list of daring ways to share the gospel ("good news") of Christ with our loved ones.
I'm adding one to my own personal list -- posting the good news on Willow Bird Baking! You are all on my list of "loved ones"! You may not be a believer, but I challenge you to read and consider this message either way, in the spirit of allowing me to share something that's important to my heart.
The central message of Christianity is this simple truth: we are all sinners, separated from God by our sins. We cannot remedy this by ourselves, but God so loved us that He sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life and die in our place -- paying the price for sin. Jesus was then resurrected to triumph over sin and death. If we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus did this for us, we accept His free gift of what Christians call "salvation": salvation from the price of sin, and an eternal relationship with God, who is a wonderful Father.
If this is the first time you've heard or understood what Christ did for you, will you take a moment right now and tell Him you're accepting His gift? If you're already a believer, will you take a moment and thank Him again? Lastly, if you're reading this right now and have questions, please leave me a comment with your email address.
Okay, I know you're ogling the pictures of the amazing Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing and wondering . . . how does Christ relate to Oatmeal Cake? Well, my jam-packed weekend resulted in a rushed baking session on Sunday. I needed a quick and simple recipe that I could make while bleary due to sleep deprivation. I cut calories during the week to splurge on the weekends, so I also wanted a recipe that could be easily devoured before Monday morning. This cake more than fit the bill -- especially the easily devoured part!
This recipe is heavenly, y'all (pun intended)! The cake is incredibly moist and delicate, with a mesmerizing blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and oats. The broiled icing is insane: toasted coconut and pecans bound by a gooey almost-caramely mixture created by the broiled butter and brown sugar. On my Recipe Index, small hearts denote Willow Bird Baking favorites -- the recipes I'm over the moon about. This hearty, filling cake has more than earned its heart!
One of the best parts is that it truly is a quick and easy recipe as well. The icing is spread on while the cake is warm, meaning that the entire recipe can be easily accomplished within an hour (not including cooling time). If I got through the entire process without a hitch while half-asleep, caffeinated, sore, and frazzled, it should be a breeze for you! Happy eating!
Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing
Recipe by: America's Test Kitchen*
Yields: one 8-inch square cake (about 9 pieces)
1 cup (3 ounces) quick-cooking oats (see note)
3/4 cup water , room temperature
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Broiled Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) pecans, chopped
1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut two 16-inch lengths aluminum foil and fold both lengthwise to 5-inch widths. Spray 8- by 8-inch metal baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Create a foil sling for the pan: cut two 16-inch lengths of foil and fold them to widths of 5 inches each. Fit foil pieces into baking dish, one overlapping the other, pushing them into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. This creates a sling that will help you remove the cake after baking and cooling. Spray foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine oats and water in medium bowl and let sit until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.
3. In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until combined and mixture has consistency of damp sand, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through mixing. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in 2 additions and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add soaked oats and mix until combined, about 15 seconds.
4. Give batter final stir with rubber spatula to make sure thoroughly combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and lightly tap against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth surface with spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes (careful: mine only took 28 minutes), rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool slightly in pan, at least 10 minutes.
5. FOR THE BROILED ICING: While cake cools, adjust oven rack about 9 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. In medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, melted butter, and milk together; stir in coconut and pecans. Spread mixture evenly over warm cake. Broil until topping is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Let cake cool in pan 1 hour. Following illustration 2, transfer cake to serving platter, then discard foil. Cut cake into squares and serve.
*ATK's notes: Do not use old-fashioned or instant oats for this recipe. Be sure to use a metal baking dish; glass pans are not recommended when broiling. If you have a drawer-style broiler (underneath the oven), position the rack as far as possible from the broiler element and monitor the icing carefully as it cooks in step 5. A vertical sawing motion with a serrated knife works best for cutting through the crunchy icing and tender crumb.
P.S. Reader comment: "Seriously this is the best cake I have ever baked or eaten. [...] I cannot thank you enough for posting this. It is seriously amazing!" Hurray! GO MAKE THIS CAKE!