So, remember that oatmeal cake? You know, the one that tasted pretty good, but was enough to feed an army of dock workers? And it had that disappointing topping. Well, I revisited it yesterday. Scaled it down, changed the topping, and OH MAH GAW, I loved it. The new cakes are simple, unfussy. The kind of cakes you eat after a bowl of something sturdy and frugal, like a stew with potatoes. They might also make a good Sunday breakfast, with a cup of strong coffee.
Bakers are so weird about scaling back recipes. Have you noticed? They’re always like, “Now, now, you can’t just go scaling back a recipe!” But that’s pretty much exactly what I did here, and it worked just fine. I cut it all back by 1/4, thinking it would be just the right size to fill two ramekins. (It seems the years I’ve spent teaching 6th and 7th grade math have finally come in handy. Not to toot my horn, but I can multiply fractions really well. I should enter a fraction-multiplying contest.) Shrinking the recipe by a fourth was perfect. The batter was exactly the right size for two ramekins (I used one round and one oblong. Robert made off with my second oblong ramekin. I haven’t seen it for a week, at least. What on earth could he be doing with it?). The cakes rose nicely, so the ratios of leaveners is correct. They were moist, so the recipe still had the right amount of oatmeal and butter. And the flavor was great, too. Perfect amount of cinnamon.
I changed the topping. The original butter/coconut/nut thing really hurt me. I gave it a streusel topping instead, which seemed fitting. Robert said something like, “This is the best cake I’ve ever had in my life.” When I asked him why, his first comment was regarding the “crispies” on top, but he also said it was moist and fluffy, and he liked the cinnamon flavor. I know, he says that about almost everything I bake, but he did not like the original cake, so I trust him.
Oatmeal Cake (wildly adapted from More-with-Less)
Makes 2 individual cakes
Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 350
In a bowl, combine:
1/4 cup quick oats
2/3 cup boiling water
Let sit for 20 minutes, until the oatmeal has gotten… well, oatmealy.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix:
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Now, in a medium bowl combine with a mixer on medium speed:
2 Tbs butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup sugar (I used sucanat, which I LOVE, but you could use either brown or white, or a mixture)
1/2 an egg (I know, a little weird. I’m not sure if this helps, but most eggs are about 3 Tbs. So, first crack the egg into a bowl or cup, whisk it a little with a fork, then measure out about 1 1/2 Tbs)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Beat well, until things are lightened and fluffy. Then add the oatmeal and blend on low speed until well combined. After that, add the flour mixture, and beat on medium-low speed until everything is mixed.
Divide batter into ramekins.
In a small bowl, mix with your clean hands or a pastry cutter:
1/8 cup brown sugar (weird measurement, I know, but this is a really forgiving recipe, so just eyeball it!)
1/8 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
scant tablespoon softened butter
Sprinkle streusel on top of batter in ramekins. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and streusel topping is slightly browned. Let cakes cool for a bit. They’re delicious slightly warm, but they’re also good after sitting out for hours.