Lazy Daisy Cake

I'm not a baker. I prefer to throw ingredients together and see what happens. With baking, you have to be precise, which means you also have to be neat...which doesn't work for the GourMESS. But, we were invited to a dinner party and I was tasked to bring something sweet, and Chris doesn't count. So, I put on my apron and got to work. The end result? This tasty Lazy Daisy Cake, courtesy of my great-aunt.

My Great-Aunt Ellen was a terrific baker.  She'd make gorgeous pies and cakes, and little pecan tarts that disappeared the minute she put them on the dessert table. She was a petite, trim woman, and very neat (hence the great baking skills). A former hairdresser, Aunt Ellen was also chic -- her white hair was styled in a cute bob and she always wore crisp shirts and pencil skirts -- even into her 90s. Sadly, Auntie passed away about a month ago, but hers was a life well-lived.

I asked my mom if she would send me some of our beloved aunt's recipes. A few days later, a treasure arrived in the mail: stacks of them. I reverently sorted through the pile of faded, dog-eared recipe cards, some typed, some hand-written in dainty cursive, and searched for something I could bring for dessert. From "Screwball Chocolate Cake" to "Million Dollar Pie," the options went on and on. In the end, I settled on "Lazy Daisy Cake" -- mainly because I had most of the ingredients and we had 10 inches of snow, so I didn't really want to leave the house just yet. Also, the recipe, an old-fashioned hot-milk yellow cake topped with brown sugar, butter, cream and coconut flakes, sounded amazing.

I didn't have cake flour, so I adapted that a bit and I used heavy cream instead of canned milk and added a 1/2 tsp of vanilla to the icing. So, it's Ellen's recipe, but with a couple of my tweaks -- an old, but new family recipe that I will make again for sure.

Lazy Daisy Cake
4 eggs
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups cake flour (if you only have all-purpose flour, use 1 3/4 cups of it)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 TBS butter

6 TBS butter
10 TBS brown sugar
3 TBS heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla

To Do:
  • For the cake:
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (the recipe says to bake in a moderate oven, so I figured 350 was a good place to start).
    • Beat the eggs gradually (her words), then stir in the sugar and vanilla. 
    • Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to sugar and egg mixture.
    • Bring the milk and butter to a boil, let cool slightly.  Add, a little bit of a time, stirring nonstop (so eggs don't scramble) until incorporated.
    • Bake in greased pan (I used a greased springform pan since I hate the suspense of whether the cake is going to come out of the cake pan in one piece) about 45-60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • For the icing:
    • Melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar, cream and vanilla.
    • Pour over warm cake and cover with coconut. (I covered the whole cake with the icing and the coconut, focusing on the top -- it made a huge mess, but it was so fun! And yes, I did it on the stove because the rest of the kitchen was a mess, too.)

    • Brown coconut under flame. (You can see the flame in the photo below.)

Chris helped sift the dry ingredients and he also helped use the cooking torch to brown the coconut at the end (men love gadgets). The cake was gorgeous and moist and spongy and the coconut topping just sweet enough. It was a hit. Everyone loved it.

I think Aunt Ellen would have been proud.