I did not grow up with this cake at all. Actually, I never heard of it until I started collecting charity or community cookbooks and other vintage cookbooks. I will admit that even if someone made this cake I would not have tried it. Why you ask? I have never been a fan of coconut. I don’t like the smell, taste, or texture of it especially when I was younger. I can deal with it a little bit more these days but it is definitely not an ingredient I seek out. Despite my personal misgivings about coconut, I still wanted to know all about this classic cake.
Who and where was Lazy Daisy Cake created?
So there really is not one person to point at to say that THIS person was the origin. Depending on a difference in one main ingredient will give you an idea of the age of your recipe which could either be in the early part of the 20th century or the 1950s. The earliest printing of the recipe is suggested to be 1914 but it was supposedly when Snowdrift shortening printed the recipe in a 1920s newspaper ad that it became part of many recipe boxes. In 1950, Quaker Oats created their own recipe to include in advertisements. The word lazy is in the title because it was considered an easy and quick cake.
What ingredients are in Lazy Daisy Cake?
As I said above that the two recipes are very similar. Both recipes are cakes baked in a 9-inch square pan. The older of the recipes was a yellow cake while the Quakers Oats recipe not surprisingly includes rolled oats. The Quaker Oats recipe also includes cinnamon and nutmeg and does not include scalding the milk. But both are covered with a topping made with brown sugar and coconut which is browned under the broiler.
When was Lazy Daisy Cake popular?
It was a popular recipe after Snowdrift included it in advertisements in the 1920s but it was the 1930s that really got into the recipe. Just like Wacky Cake in the 1940s, Lazy Daisy Cake was often used in cooking demonstrations because of the easy way in which it was prepared. In a 1960s newspaper article, the author remembers that everyone seemed to be baking this cake in the 1930s because it was “neither too heavy nor too sweet”. A reader wrote in to a 1996 column saying that her mother had “made this cake for the family when I was growing up” and that she as well remembered making this cake herself as a teenager in the late thirties. The popularity stayed through World War II, according to Anne Bryn of the cookbook American Cakes, because it was a “quick one-bowl cake that was also economical”. Mid-century food columnist, Dorothy Dean, adds to this by saying that the cake and especially the broiled coconut frosting was very popular in the 1940s.
In the 1950s, the recipe once again became popular due to Quaker Oats creating a recipe that used their product. It is still one of the most requested recipes from the company to this day. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s you start to see an increase in recipes both with the oatmeal and the yellow cake version. It was often referred to as an “old-fashioned cake”. During the 1990s, many women from this era would write in to newspaper food columns remembering this cake of their youth and inquiring for a recipe. One of these columns from 1996 got so many recipe submissions after one such letter.
Why should I make Lazy Daisy Cake?
They were not wrong. This is a super easy and quick cake to make. Don’t let things like scalding the milk or broiling the frosting scare you off. Trust me this cake is almost foolproof. I made this for my mother and she proclaimed rather loudly that it was and I quote “FREAKING AMAZING”! She even went so far to say that it may have knocked New York style coffee cake off the top of her list for best cakes. Let me tell you if you know my mother that is a big deal. Even I who would never seek out coconut anything will admit that this cake is quite good and I can completely understand why the ladies of the past kept it in their recipe boxes.
How do you make Lazy Daisy Cake?
I kept flip-flopping over which version I was going to do. Ultimately I decided to do the yellow cake version as I was amazed at how little that recipe has changed from the 1930s. Usually, I find some crazy substitutions or wildly differing proportions when I start comparing recipes submitted to newspapers or community cookbooks. So I knew I had to try this recipe that has remained relatively untouched. Though for you all seeking or interested in the Quaker Oats recipe, I have left the recipe from the ad underneath. Also, let me know if this was a favorite recipe in your family and which version it was!
Lazy Daisy Cake
An easy cake with a broiled coconut frosting that has been popular from the 1930s through to the 1970s!
For the Cake:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk, cream or half and half (it really doesn’t matter)
- 1/2 cup of coconut
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and well grease a 8 or 9 inch square pan.
- Heat the milk and butter over medium low heat until the butter has melted and until you just start to see bubbles. Take off the heat and set aside.
- Beat the eggs then add the sugar and vanilla.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt straight in the egg mixture or into a mixing bowl first.
- Pour in the scalded milk/butter mixture and stir until combined.
- Place in the square baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and set the oven to broil.
- For the topping: Mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, milk and coconut. Spread on the warm cake and then place in under broiler until it is bubbling and lightly brown.
- Let cool in pan and serve!
“An Old Favorite: Forty Year Old Laisy Daisy Cake Gets ’90s Makeover'”. The Spokesman-Review. November 12, 1997.
Baker, Esther. “Social-Lights”. Ellensburg Daily Record. February 29, 1960.
Byrn, Anne. American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, The Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 Of Our Best-Loved Cakes From Past to Present. New York: Rodale, 2016.
Cicero, Linda. “Readers Work Hard to Pass on This Family Favorite”. Star News. January 17, 1996.
Dean, Dorothy. “Coconut Orange Ice Ideal for Picnic Cake”. The Spokesman Review. August 4, 1966.
Dean, Dorothy. “Mother’s Day Menu Designed for Chef’s Ease and Appetite”. The Spokesman Review. May 2, 1958.
Hawks, Ellen. “Crunchy-topped Cake Recalls Days of Youth”. The Bulletin. November 16, 1993.
Oliver, Margo. “Good Old Cakes”. The Windsor Star. March 11, 1978.
Patrick, Nana. “Try these Delicious Time-Tested Recipe for Your Holiday Treats”. Ellensburg Daily Record. December 11, 1969.
“Success Marks Courier’s Big Cooking School”. The Oxnard Daily Courier. May 31, 1930.
Webster, Kathy. “Simple Strawberry Shines in Lavish Desserts”. The Telegraph Herald. July 8, 1977.
Westmoreland, Susan. Good Housekeeping Great American Classics Cookbook. New York: Hearst Books, 2004.
6 thoughts on “History of Lazy Daisy Cake”
I have always loved the lazy Daisy oatmeal cake,
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It is quite tasty!
When my mother made a Lazy Daisy Cake, she always used a Buttermilk Cake rather than the Oatmeal Cake mentioned in this article. The Lazy Daisy included coconut AND pecans. I haven’t made it in years, but will now! It’s wonderful.
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Glad I could inspire you! Your mother’s version sounds delicious.