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Shannon M. Smurthwaite
Rich buttermilk cake with warm coconut, cinnamon and oat glaze slices up for serving easily. Because it's baked in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, serving sizes are up to you.

Purists may cringe, but cake mixes and packaged frosting have a place on my baking shelf. They help me serve up a nice variety of quick desserts when I'm pinched for time.

When the mood strikes me for an old-fashioned dessert, however, this recipe checks all the boxes: It's moist and flavorful; it uses ingredients that are on hand; it can be served at any meal or in between for a snack. And the best part, it's a piece of cake to prepare. Nothing is too intimidating or time-consuming about this recipe.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish, whip up the batter and bake. Blend the thick glaze ingredients and top to finish the cake by baking a few minutes more. Serve while still warm and slice according to needs. Too much cake? After it is sliced and cooled, freeze in an airtight container. When you're ready to serve again, thaw for 30 minutes and microwave 15-20 seconds. Nothing will be lost in the flavor or texture.

If you have budding young chefs at home, this is a great recipe to let them mix up and serve. They will be encouraged from preparation to presentation.

BUTTERMILK CAKE WITH WARM GLAZE OF COCONUT, OATS AND CINNAMON

Cake batter:

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

1½ cups dark brown sugar, not packed

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups fresh buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1¾ teaspoons baking soda

This simple glaze of brown sugar, coconut, cinnamon and oats is prepared by mixing a few items together for an old-fashioned flavor. Blend well and set aside. Glazing is a fun change-up to frosting. | Shannon M. Smurthwaite

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

Glaze:

5 tablespoons melted butter, not clarified

¾ cup dark brown sugar, not packed

¼ cup milk

½ teaspoon cinnamon

dash of salt

½ cup shredded coconut

2/3 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick, either work)

Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, prepare cake batter by first creaming together 1/2 cup softened butter and sugars, then add in and blend well all remaining wet ingredients. Fold in all dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly.

Pour batter into your buttered baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes; test center for doneness. If necessary, bake longer until cake tester comes out clean.

In a small mixing bowl, while cake is baking, blend all ingredients for the glaze.

Pull your baked cake out of the oven and, starting in the middle of the cake, spread the thick glaze evenly, covering the entire top. Return cake to your oven and bake for 8-10 minutes more.

This cake slices up nicely. To serve warm, let it cool 15-20 minutes.

Because this cake is baked in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, serving portions can be small or large; you decide.

Shannon M. Smurthwaite is a Southern California native, author of Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook, food columnist and freelance writer. Her blog: www.myitalianmama.com. She and her husband, Donald, reside in Idaho. Email: [email protected]