This classic Depression-era cake is topped with an easy-to-make coconut icing, which is broiled until golden brown. Be sure to use a metal cake pan; glass pans are not recommended when broiling. If you have a drawer-style broiler (underneath the oven), adjust the rack as far as possible from the broiler element and monitor the icing carefully as it cooks in step four. This cake can be served warm or at room temperature.
Makes one 8-inch square cake; serves nine
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed (13/4 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
3/4 cup (3 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut
1. For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil (see page 207). Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Heat the milk, butter, and vanilla together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and -granulated sugar together with an electric mixer on -medium-high speed until pale and thick, 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining milk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes, -rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, about 10 minutes.
4. For the icing: Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to be about 9 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar, melted butter, and evaporated milk together, then stir in the coconut. Spread the mixture evenly over the warm cake and broil until the topping is -bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes, checking often to prevent the icing from burning.
5. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, about 30 minutes. If desired, remove the cake from the pan using foil before serving.
Test Kitchen Tip: Who's Lazy?
Lazy daisy cake might be called "lazy" because it is a simplified hot milk cake — it contains melted butter, which easily combines with the batter, rather than softened butter, which must be creamed. This cake is also a great last-minute dessert because the cake is served warm with a quickly made broiled frosting that "cooks" right on top of the cake.