Lazy Daisy Cake
You have to admit, this recipe has a great name! It is a cake of the 1930s, back when times were simpler, women were working outside the home, so shortcuts were welcome. In this recipe, the baked cake is topped with coconut, brown sugar, and cream and run under the broiler at the last minute to give it a topping. Its popularity continued in the war-time 1940s when America gravitated to one-bowl, economical cakes.
This recipe comes from Max Merrell’s family, and they shared it with me when I was writing my book, American Cake. His mother and grandmother baked it for him, and he remembered how it was “dripping in brown sugar icing.” It’s a cake that has withstood the decades for good reason. Simple, easy, delicious, it speaks volumes about the legacy of home baking.
LAZY DAISY CAKE RECIPE:
Makes 12 to 16 servings | Prep: 25 to 30 minutes | Bake: 28 to 32 minutes
Butter or shortening and flour for prepping the pan
1/ 2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt (see Cake Notes)
Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and set it aside.
Place the soft butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend on medium speed with an electric mixer until the mixture is creamy, 2 minutes. Add the eggs, and blend on medium until batter is smooth and light, 2 minutes more.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the batter along with the buttermilk and vanilla, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Blend on low until everything is incorporated, then increase the mixer speed to medium and blend to lighten the batter, 30 seconds more. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Place the pan in the oven.
Bake the cake until the top springs back when lightly pressed and it is golden brown, 28 to 32 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven. Turn the oven broiler on, and carefully position a broiler rack about 4 to 5 inches away from the broiler.
For the topping, place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat to melt, 1 minute. Stir in the brown sugar and cream and let mixture come to a boil and boil for minutes, or until it thickens slightly. Take the pan off the heat. Stir in coconut, vanilla, and salt. Pour the topping over the top of the warm cake, spreading it out to reach the edges. Place the cake in the oven, leaving the door ajar or the oven light on so you can watch the broiling so it will not overcook. Let the topping broil until it bubbles up and the coconut caramelizes, from 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your broiler.
Remove the pan from the oven, let it rest 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve warm.
Cake Notes: Instead of the all-purpose flour with baking powder and salt added separately, use 2 cups self-rising flour instead for a quick shortcut. And in the topping, add the pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter. If using salted butter, omit the salt.