Pumpkin Oat Snack Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing

by Julie Ruble on April 14, 2012 · 32 comments

I was floored to see that Willow Bird Baking is a finalist for SAVEUR Magazine’s Best Baking & Desserts Blog. Thank you so much for making this happen. If you’d like to vote for Willow Bird Baking, you can do so here. You all are truly wonderful.

I could feel his eyes on me from the table to my right. He obviously wanted to strike up a conversation. Being an introvert by nature, I nursed a healthy flurry of paperwork all around me and kept my eyes on my computer screen. My work was a comforting wall between me and his social overtures.

However, I quickly realized as he walked over that he was unfazed by walls. He sat down on the couch next to me in the bustling coffee shop. I slurped my soda noisily as a last-ditch effort to appear busy. He set down his carton of milk and walked over to stand next to my seat. He peered at my computer screen.

“Um, hi,” I said, obviously unable to avoid a conversation any longer.

“Hi. What’s your name?” He replied.

“Julie. What’s yours?”

“Brian.”

“How old are you, Brian?”

He danced a little and held up 4 pudgy fingers. “Almost 4. My birfday’s in a coupla weeks.” I smiled. His cute delivery and guileless demeanor warmed me up to the idea of a conversation. I was starting to feel glad that he’d walked over after all.

I pointed to my computer screen. “See this cake? It’s a pumpkin cake. Do you like pumpkin?” (He does not.) “Are you going to have a pretty cake like this at your birthday?” (He is.) “What else are you going to do for your birthday?”

My own birthday, incidentally, is coming up in just a week, but trust me: compared to the monologue Brian launched into about his upcoming birthday party, my birthday will be tame. Just to give you an idea, he mentioned something about a castle and a road trip with his Me-Me and Paw-Paw for his birthday. I asked Mike for a car wash (with wax, please) for mine.

But really, Brian wasn’t just enthusiastic about a party. Indeed, he went on to tell me about his mom, his dad and Paw-Paw who were both “at deir jobs,” and his own job, by which I finally figured out he meant preschool. He noticed my marker and excitedly related that he loved markers, too! He drained his milk as we talked, and inched over repeatedly to eye this pumpkin cake with great interest. He was enthusiastic about life.

Looking around with my Brian lens on, I realized how wonderful it was to have spent the morning eating a bowl of fresh greens with a big scoop of tuna salad on top. How privileged I was to be sipping a soda and working on my new laptop (I named it Esmerelda — Zelda for short — and I’m ecstatic about it.) How blessed I am that my parents are taking me out for brisket next week (when they ask if I want fatty or lean, I’m saying fatty.) How amazing it is that I am dating the man of my dreams after having been separated from him for way too long. How delicious buttered toast is!

I’m with Brian, man. Life is pretty great!

This Pumpkin Oat Snack Cake is just another great thing in an otherwise great life. It’s quick and simple to whip up, just as a snack cake should be, but it’s also birthday-bouncy-house delicious: moist, tender, and sporting a crispy toasted topping. And since we’re calling it a snack cake, you can slice yourself off a piece any old time. Right?

What are some little things in life you’ve been appreciating lately?

Pumpkin Oat Snack Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing



Recipe by: Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Oatmeal Snack Cake with Broiled Icing
Yield: 9 servings

This little snack cake whips up in a jiffy and boasts so much bang for its buck! It’s a delicious pumpkin-oat spice cake with a toasty coconut and pecan broiled topping.

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup (3 ounces) quick-cooking oats*
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 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup pumpkin
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) dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Broiled Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
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

Directions:
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Create a foil sling for an 8-inch square 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. Cut two more pieces of the same size and arrange them in the same way, except perpendicular to the first two. This creates a sling that will help you remove the cake after baking and cooling. Spray foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the oats, pumpkin puree, and water in medium bowl and let sit until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for a few minutes until the mixture resembles damp sand (scraping down the bowl as needed). Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing until just incorporated after each addition. Add the oat mixture and mix until just combined. Stir the mixture by hand to make sure everything is combined.

Glop the batter into the prepared pan and tap it against the counter a few times to ditch any air bubbles. Smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake the cake, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, about 28 to 32 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes while you mix the icing.

Make the icing: Move the oven rack to around 9 inches away from the broiler heating element and preheat the broiler. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, and milk. Stir in the coconut and pecans before spreading mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Broil the cake, keeping a close eye on it and rotating as needed, until topping is bubbling and golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Let the cake cool in pan for 1 hour. Use the sling to pull the cake gently out of the pan. Cut it into squares and transfer to a platter or serving plates; discard the foil.

*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. A vertical sawing motion with a serrated knife works best for cutting through the crunchy icing and tender crumb.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

CulinarilyCourtney April 14, 2012 at 3:28 am

I’ve made something very similar to this before! It was wonderful served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Loved the story about Brian too–pure joy.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 14, 2012 at 3:47 am

Oh yum, a scoop of ice cream would take it right over the top! I’m serving the rest of the cake to Mike tomorrow and I’ll have to pick some up. I have a feeling a caramel drizzle wouldn’t hurt either!

Thanks, Courtney!

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Barbara @ Barbara Bakes April 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Such a sweet post, in more ways than one. I’ll have to remember how amazing the world is more. Congrats on your nomination!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Thank you, Barbara!

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Abby April 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I laughed out loud when you revealed he was 4, I was hooked by the first scene. Voted! Good luck :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Thank you so much, Abby! Made any awesome steamed buns lately?

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bigFATcook April 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm

This cake looks really tasty!
Greets

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Thank you!

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angel van April 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Oh that is way too cute of Brian! I just appreciate living on this fine green Earth. I miss my CLT friends though.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Isn’t he sweet? What a happy little guy :) Thanks Angel!

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Melissa April 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Oh god, this makes me miss being a nanny! And the cake looks delicious!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 15, 2012 at 2:34 am

Thanks, Melissa!

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Susi Matthews April 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm

This looks SO good! I may have to neglect my sewing (my work!) and just go make one.

What am I thankful for right now?
I just had the sweetest cuddle with my younger cat, Schroedinger. She climbed up behind me in the desk chair and demanded my attention. Reading this, I decided that I wasn’t to busy to pay her some attention. So she climbed up between me and the computer key board, tucked her head under my chin, leaned against me an d purred like a little motorboat while I put my arms around her and rubbed her ears. That’s all she wanted; just a little dedicated “mom time” and then she was off to look out the window.

Whether it’s an inquisitive 4 year old or a little 4 legged fur baby, we do them and ourselves a world of good to stop for a moment and appreciate the small, sweet moments in life.

And that’s what I’m thankful for right now.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 14, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Aww, that is so sweet! I’m glad Schroedinger got some lovins. That makes me want to snuggle Byrd right this second! :)

Thanks, Susi!

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Susi Matthews April 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Shcroedie and I thank you (do you know the physics geek joke about Schroedinger’s cat?) She’s such a sweet baby with such a loud purr.

The thing I forgot to mention that I was thankful for is that I’ve begun dating an old friend from high school/college and well, it looks like maybe this is it for both of us, after three strikes on my side and two in his. Older and hopefully wiser? Keeping fingers crossed!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 15, 2012 at 1:34 am

That is something to be joyful about indeed!! I know just how you feel, that whole “finally” bit — long sigh of relief! I hope that it really is “finally!” for both of you. That is wonderful.

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Laura Dembowski April 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm

This looks truly fabulous. I can’t wait to make it; coconut and pumpkin are two of my favorite flavors. Congratulations on the Saveur nomination. That’s actually how I found your blog!

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beti April 15, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I simply love how fluffy, moist and delicious this cake looks, I thought that pumpkin was a bit more for halloween but I can’t tell you how excited I am to make it right now

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Deanna April 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I love oatmeal spice cake. I can only imagine that it is better with pumpkin. And congratulations!

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Sandy @ tinytinyfork April 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm

WOW! Congrats on your nomination!!! That’s so exciting to see a publisher from FBZ that I met briefly at the foodbuzz fest in 2010 being nominated for such a prestigious award! Best of luck!

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meret April 17, 2012 at 7:38 am

Hi,
where I see this one recipe that is on that picture?
And what is the name of what you’ve baked here :)

http://www.saveur.com/food-blog-awards/vote.jsp?ID=1000013339

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking April 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

Hi Meret! The recipe is linked in the first bit of the post; it’s something I baked this past weekend and this post is to show how I served it! Here it is: http://willowbirdbaking.com/2012/04/14/pumpkin-oat-snack-cake-with-broiled-coconut-icing/ I hope you enjoy!

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Sharon April 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Mmmmmmm…. This makes me want to rush to the kitchen and make this right now.

I freeze my fresh pumpkin so I have it to use for just these recipes that come along!

Little kids are so adorable and do the most unexpected things.

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A_Boleyn April 20, 2012 at 2:06 am

Pumpkin fudge and cheesecake are about the only ways I like the stuff though this looks very tasty indeed.

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Javelin Warrior April 20, 2012 at 5:19 am

So creative and so scrumptious – the cake looks light and almost airy while that broiled topping is amazing. I love this combination… I am featuring this post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. As always, it’s a pleasure to be following your creations…

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Jessica April 21, 2012 at 3:31 am

Umm… Yes please. I will HAVE to make this tomorrow with all of my other goodies. I just need to run and get “quick oats”, I only have old fashioned in this house. Did I say please? Because this looks and sounds so amazing that I have to be proper or I just might try to lick the computer screen… showing restrain…

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Bunny April 22, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I’m very happy for your Pumpkin Oat Snack Cake !

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Marissa | Pinch & Swirl April 23, 2012 at 12:21 am

I’m thankful that spring has suddenly exploded into bloom. And I’m thankful for all of the Brians who pop in and out of my life to remind me to be grateful and full of wonder.

You know what would make me more grateful right now? A fork that could magically poke through my screen to your table for a bite of that cake! :)

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Margarita May 20, 2012 at 1:42 am

I love America’s Test Kitchen recipes! Matter of fact, I made one for dinner tonight. And this cake looks like something that both me and my mom would enjoy! Looking forward to making it some time soon. Also, compliments on the photographs, they are fabulous!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Thank you, Margarita! I hope you and your mom love it :) I love ATK too!

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