Cozy Up to a Super Easy Lazy Daisy Cake

Coconut sprinkles for retro Lazy Daisy Cake recipe by Bake This Cake

The way-back machine comes right back around again with a fluffy and moist single layer cake topped with a super-fast broiled brown sugar and coconut topping that subs for traditional cake frosting.  Just “foil up” your Lazy Daisy and away you go with an easy travel cake for potluck or office sharing. It also makes a nice morning coffee and cake treat. AND, pssst! It serves up a great little midnight snack (that’ll be our little secret).

Lazy Daisy Cake with broiled coconut frosting by bakethiscakeAll-American, all-era cake:  Just like the cars that roll through the town of Snelling on Pancake Sundays with various decades of vintage wonder on display, the Lazy Daisy Cake is a time-honored American classic from the turn-of-the-Century AND the mid-Century AND the fab 70’s.

Snelling California vintage cars on Pancake Sunday bakethiscake

Building on a Simple Foundation: We found a very early version of this cake going by a different spelling, “Lazy Dazy” cake, in the 1911 American cookbook, “What We Cook on Cape Cod” edited by Amy L. Handy, published by The Village Improvement Society in Barnstable, Massachussetts. This early recipe leaves some parts to your imagination (and is without the broiled coconut topping that we’ve come to recognize for this cake), but the cake is pretty much the same simple single layer foundation cake.

Lazy Dazy Cake recipe 1911 What We Cook on Cape Cod Lazy Daisy bakethiscake

What’s in a Name? The most common theory for the name of this cake is that it implies a simple cake, especially with the broiled frosting that is so quick and easy. However, the most prevalent recipes, including this one, call for a little bit of fancy dancing with boiled milk and separately whipped egg whites. A little bit of kitchen crafting attention, but not too much.

Some might recognize the name as it applies to the Lazy Daisy Stitch often used when the end of a flower petal or leaf is pinned down with a quick little tie-down stitch. Look closely to see the tie-die stitch on the leaf points in the apron close-up photo.

Lazy Daisy Cross Stitch on an apron bake this cake

This cake was all the rage in the 1930’s, brought about likely by the invention of those new-fangled stoves hitting the market to make quick work of the broiled brown sugar, butter and coconut topping. See another version of a broiled frosting with our lemony one-bowl “WWII Labor Saving Cake”.

Close up look at a slice of vintage Lazy Daisy Cake in the pan by bake this cake

The recipe appears in the 1936 University of California “Extension Bulletin” with 1 teaspoon less baking powder than ours (and ours is quite light and fluffy, so I agree with the later revision).

The Lazy Daisy rose in popularity again in the 1950’s during a whirlwind spree of potluck and church event cakes. The  1954 “Improvement Era” journal, Volume 57, describes a quick and easy technique that is simple with results that are: “sure and delightful, (texture is superb) which makes it ideal for the busy homemaker who likes to hear compliments from family and friends.”

Here’s a fun little B&W video that will set the mood for retro meal planning…

They even began calling it a Lazy Daisy Cake when the broiled coconut frosting was spread over any variation of cake recipe. By 1972, Better Homes and Gardens started calling it a coffee cake. And they were right. It goes perfectly with a great cup of coffee (or a cappuccino)!

Morning cappuccino in a vintage cup and saucer by bake this cake

We’re heading from downtown L.A. to the little town of Snelling, California, for some R&R and little quality cake testing scenery. This town sits next to a lovely stretch of the Merced River that runs down from the Sierra Mountains and its just a skip up the road from my hometown of Merced, California (home of the new University of California at Merced). The vistas certainly change from my starting point at Pershing Square in downtown L.A to a calml river setting!

LA Pershing Square to Snelling River House by bake this cake

Once a month you’ll see this sign out on the highway just before you roll into town…

Snelling Sunday Community Breakfast photo by Bake This Cake

The town fundraises for various community projects, like, in the past, they raised money for a heart defibrillator (a chest zapper) to have on hand at the volunteer fire department. They’re also selling tickets to their annual quilt raffle (you can see a peek of the quilt in the background of this photo)…

Welcome to the Snelling Community IOOF Sunday Breakfast photo by Bake This Cake

The monthly pancake breakfast always attracts a nice crowd throughout the morning comprised of local folks, folks from Merced, travelers heading up to the fishing and water skiing lakes or to Yosemite, and car or motorcycle enthusiasts on a Sunday drive in their cool cars.

Visitors Seating for Snelling Community Breakfast photo by Bake This Cake

Volunteers man the pancake station, pour tomato juice, orange juice and milk, whip up some amazing sausage gravy and homemade biscuits and serve hearty helpings to the hungry crowds with a smile.

Volunteers Serving Snelling Town Breakfast photo by Bake This Cake

I often dip into this community cook book when I’m cooking at the river house. It’s called, “Country Cookbook: Snelling – Our Town”. I love it because it holds more for me than a nice collection of town recipes. It represents volumes of history for my family. It was published in about 1990 by Fundcraft Publishing, Inc. (specializing in fundraising cookbooks) and sponsored by the Novara Rebekah Lodge #61 (of which I am a proud member).

Snelling Our Town Country Cookbook Cover BakeThisCake

My grandparents farmed in Snelling in the 1860’s. My mother was raised on a ranch just outside of town (and was buried last year at the Snelling Cemetery, I love you, Mom). My daughter, Julie, and I transcribed the tombstones for the California Tombstone Transcription Society over one Christmas holiday. (You can see our transcription by clicking >>HERE.) And we still keep a treasured family home here on the Merced River where we come to chill with the  kids, to fish and canoe and cook up a storm. So anything Snelling is near and dear to me.

Kids on the river at the river house in Snelling bakethiscake

This particular cake recipe was shared in the cookbook by the late May Pletcher.  Born in 1919, Mrs. Pletcher was an incredibly vibrant and community-spirited Snelling resident. Although she passed away in 2009, we’ll always cherish her friendly nature and her wonderful stories of the old days in Snelling.

Lazy Daisy Cake Snelling Community Cook Book Recipe bakethiscake

Okay, it’s time to bake this vintage cake!

Lazy Daisy Cake ingredients:
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk (we used 2%)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, fine quality

Lazy Daisy Broiled Coconut Topping Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons evaporated milk (we used heavy cream, but water also works)
5 Tablespoons golden brown sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup baker’s coconut (sweetened, shredded coconut)

Vintage Lazy Daisy Cake recipe served from a brownie pan by Bake This Cake

Lazy Daisy aka Lazy Daisy Cake directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in center position.

Prepare a square brownie pan with cooking spray. I’ve made this cake in either a 9″x 9″ brownie pan or an 8″x 8″ brownie pan. Though I may favor the  9″ square pan, either one will do just fine.

Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes):
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar

creamed sugar and eggs for Lazy Daisy Cake recipe Bake This Cake

Bring to a quick boil on the stove top (or in the microwave):
1/2 cup milk (we used 2%)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Boiled milk and butter for Lazy Daisy Cake recipe by bake this cake

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to thoroughly mix:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Dry Ingredients for vintage Lazy Dazy Cake recipe by Bake This Cake

To the bowl of dry ingredients, quickly beat in the egg and sugar mixture.

Beating creamed eggs and sugar into Lazy Daisy Cake by bake this cake

Pour the hot milk and butter mixture into the batter and beat just until smooth.

Stir in just until fully incorporated:
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, fine quality

Blending boiled milk, butter and vanilla into Lazy Daisy Cake by bake this cake

Pour the batter into a buttered or sprayed 9″x 9″ brownie pan or an 8″x 8″ brownie pan. You can see we used a (well-worn) square brownie pan for this one.

Lazy Daisy Cake batter in a brownie pan ready to bake by bake this cake

Bake on the center rack of the oven at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. The cake is done when the top is lightly golden brown, a toothpick inserted in the center top of the cake shows clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Lazy Daisy Yellow Cake baked in a brownie pan by BakeThisCake

You may prepare the cake topping just before the timer rings so it will be ready when the cake comes hot out of the oven.

Broiled Lazy Daisy Topping Directions:

In a cup or small bowl, use a fork to mix:
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons evaporated milk (or, we used 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream but you could also just use 2 Tablespoons of water)
5 Tablespoons golden brown sugar, lightly packed (being sure there are no lumps)

Vintage Lazy Diasy Brown Sugar Topping prep by bake this cake

Spread the topping over the hot cake using a spoon or a pastry brush.

hot brown sugar butter topping on Lazy Daisy Cake by Bake This Cake

Okay. Here comes the fun part!

Sprinkle the topped cake with:
1/3 to 1/2 cup baker’s coconut (sweetened, shredded coconut)

Coconut sprinkles for retro Lazy Daisy Cake recipe by Bake This Cake

Place the cake back into the oven, setting the oven to broil (usually a setting of 500 degrees) or under the broiler full blast for a minute or two — just until the coconut turns lightly golden brown.

Tip: Lest there be a distraction, I recommend leaving the oven or broiler door open and to stand watchful guard over the amazing miracle of the caramelization reaction. It usually only takes a minute or two to melt the sugar to golden hue and the coconut dances a little jig as it begins to brown.

Lazy Daisy Cake with broiled coconut brown sugar topping by bakevthisvcake

Cut it into squares and get ready to break out the milk and coffee! The aroma of the bubbling brown sugar and coconut will attract a gathering.

Vintage Lazy Daisy Cake recipe baked and cut for serving by bake tis cake

Thank you for joining me on this vintage cake baking adventure. I do hope you’ve enjoyed it. And I do hope you’ll find a little time to bake this lovely little gem.


Leslie volunteering at the Snelling pancake breakfast bakethiscake

9 thoughts on “Cozy Up to a Super Easy Lazy Daisy Cake

  1. Pingback: Lazy Daisy Cake | Sugar Creek Family Farm

  2. I just took Lazy Daisy out of the oven and she smells FANTASTIC! The cake is ligh-N-fluffy, moist and sweet. Very easy to make in no time. From gathering the ingredients, heating, mixing to into baking dish, it was about 10 min. I used a square glass pan that I sprayed with pam and lined the bottom with parchment paper to avoid sticking. I had unsweet coconut on hand. I drizzled about 3/4 of brown sugar mixed on top, then sprinkled coconut, then added the rest. Next time I’ll drizzle all the sugar and sprinkle the unsweet coconut because I don’t think it makes a difference. I would recommend letting the cake cool for 3-5 minutes before drizzling the sugar. I think it allowed for the sugar to not get too soaked in by the cake. But not a big deal. THIS IS AN AMAZING CAKE! Leslie, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing it with us!! I will be making this again and trying more of your recipes!!

    • About baking time: My cake baked at about 23 minutes. I’m glad I kept an eye on it because 25 to 30 would have made the cake too brown/or worse burnt it!

      • Thank you for letting us know about the timing for your Lazy Daisy Cake. I noticed your cake pan was square and these changes in sizes, and even ovens and flours, can make a difference — so you were smart to be vigilant towards the end of the cake baking. Your tips will help us all. Best, Leslie

    • Thanks so much for letting us know how your cake baking adventure went and that you enoyed the very vintage style Lazy Daisy Cake. And thanks for the tips on cooling and sugar sprinkling, etc. You just brought a little sweet history back to the world. Best, Leslie

  3. I’m drooling because I’m just thinking about that coconut topping! I have to make this soon, in one form or another. So nice to feature the monthly pancake breakfast, too! 🙂

  4. I agree with Nancy! I remember eating this wonderful cake as a child. I forgot all about it until you wrote about it. This cake is worthy of resurrection. I also remember the pancake socials. I guess I do miss living in a smaller community.

Please leave a comment (some delay in posting)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s