November 1, 2010

Nuts About Coconut

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Margaret's Morsels | Hoagy Cake

A reader left the comment:  "Nurses like coconut cake!!!:0).  I need a fabulous recipe!!!"  I'm always happy to share recipes, especially when I have one that I think will fulfill the request.

When I think of coconut cake, I think about the cake my mother made for birthdays and Christmas.  It was a three layer white cake made from scratch.  The icing was made with egg whites and cooked on the stove. Once the cake was completely cooled, the hot icing was spread on the cake and sprinkled liberally with coconut.  Unfortunately, my mother's recipe didn't include directions on cooking the icing so I've never made her coconut cake.

When I make a coconut cake, I use another recipe from my mother called Hoagy Cake.  A neighbor gave my mother the recipe sometime in the early 1970's.  The neighbor had no idea why it was called Hoagy Cake.  I've looked through my cooking reference books and searched online trying to find its origin, but to no avail.  If anyone knows how Hoagy Cake acquired its name, I hope you'll tell me so this 40 year old mystery can be solved!

One advantage of a Hoagy Cake is it is made in a 13 x 9-inch pan which makes it easy to transport.  Unlike some coconut cake recipes, this cake doesn't need to be refrigerated.  This makes it even easier to take somewhere plus it saves space in the refrigerator which is a good thing around the holidays.

This recipe, like my mother's coconut cake, is also made from scratch. When you compare the ingredients to other cake recipes, you notice that, although it uses 10 ingredients, it doesn't use much of any ingredient. That plus the fact our neighbor said it was an old recipe makes me wonder if it is a depression era recipe.  What it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in taste.

Margaret's Morsels | Hoagy Cake
The cake ingredients.

Hoagy Cake uses buttermilk rather than plain milk.  Southern cooks use buttermilk in a lot of recipes because it makes baked goods extremely tender.  If you don't have buttermilk, you can make sour milk.  To make sour milk to equal 1 cup buttermilk, put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a measuring cup.  Add enough milk to make 1 cup. Thoroughly stir the mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes.  You can use this formula to make as much or as little buttermilk as you need.  There's also a dry buttermilk powder that's sold in a can.  The dry powder only requires the addition of water.

I'm including two frosting variations:  one for coconut and one for chocolate.  My family doesn't care for coconut as much as I do so I usually make the chocolate frosting.  Whenever I make a frosting or glaze that uses powdered sugar, I always sift the powdered sugar, even if the recipe doesn't call for it.  You want the frosting or glaze to be smooth, so it's better to get any lumps out before you mix the powdered sugar with the other ingredients.

The frosting needs to be put on while the cake is still hot.  As soon as I put the cake in the oven, I measure all the frosting ingredients.  Once the cake is cooked, I put the pan on a wire rack and mix up the frosting.  This gives the cake enough time to cool a little, but still be hot when the frosting is applied.

Margaret's Morsels | Hoagy Cake
The frosting ingredients.

The neighbor that gave my mother the recipe said her husband liked the cake two ways:  hot or cold!  I have to agree with him that it's delicious either way.  The only other thing it needs is a glass of milk!

Hoagy Cake
12 Servings

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp. water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add egg; mix well.  Add buttermilk and water; mix until well blended.  Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture.  Stir in vanilla.  Bake in a greased 13 x 9-inch pan at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes or until done.


4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
6 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
dash of salt
1 (1 lb.)  box powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups coconut or to taste

Combine first four ingredients in a frying pan.  Heat until butter is dissolved.  Stir in powdered sugar and coconut.  Spread on cake while cake is hot.

For Chocolate Frosting:  Omit the coconut.  Sift 3 tablespoons of cocoa with the powdered sugar.  Proceed as directed.

© Margaret's Morsels


  1. The cake looks yummy! And it is !!! Too bad it has all been eaten now !

  2. This must have been posted before I started following you... I am a coconut fiend!!! Love it love it love it. I will be making this within a week.

  3. I hope you like the cake, Brenda. It's really easy to make and is absolutely delicious! One of these days, I'm going to stir some coconut into the chocolate icing to see if it tastes like a Mounds candy bar!

  4. Welcome to Food on Friday, Margaret. Next week's theme is Middle Eastern Food - hope to see you there! Cheers

    1. Thanks for the invitation, Carole! I'll have to see what I can come up with for next week's theme.