Oatmeal Cake for such a time as this

“To ease the pandemic stress, we started baking.”

That’s what Chris Sneed posted on his Facebook page with this photo of an appealing slice of cake. Of course, I had to call Chris to find out more.

“Today we made my Great-Granny Mattson’s Oatmeal Cake,” Chris said. “Many people say I am just like my Granny Mattson. She was high-steppin’, outspoken, and candid to say the least.”

Chris is assistant professor in the University of Tennessee’s department of family and consumer science. His partner, Will Smith, is an assistant school principal.

Chris and Will are members of Church Street United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. They’re both working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, and apparently, the baking bug has hit. (Another Facebook photo shows Chris icing a homemade carrot cake.)

Chris and his homemade carrot cake

When I called, Chris explained the background on the oatmeal cake. As a child in Decatur, Tennessee, Chris lived next door to his great-grandmother, Ollie Mattson, who lived with his grandmother, Mildred Sneed.

Chris recently found Ollie’s recipe for Oatmeal Cake and couldn’t resist baking it again for old time’s sake.

“My grandmother died in November,” he said, “so I wanted to bake something that reminds me of her.”

For an extra dose of nostalgia, he served the cake on a plate from his grandmother’s Corelle collection.

The recipe is simple and perfect for pandemic cooking. In an earlier version of the recipe, Chris said he was confused by his great-grandmother’s use of oleo for oleomargarine, or just margarine. Today, Chris substitutes butter for margarine.

Granny Mattson’s Oatmeal Cake

1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup butter

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Pour 1 ¼ cup boiling water over oats. Let stand until ready to use.
Spray 9 x 13-inch pan with vegetable oil. Mix oats with remaining ingredients. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
2 egg yolks
Chopped nuts (optional)

Combine ingredients in saucepan, then warm over low heat until melted. Spoon mixture on top of cake. Add nuts, if desired. Place cake under low broil for 1 minute or until slightly browned.

You may reach me directly at annettespence@holston.org.

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