Coconut is a holiday staple, turned into cakes, pies, and candies. And it’s an old ingredient, brought into the ports such as Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans where local cooks and candy makers, mostly, would crack the nut and extract the exotic meat. And once the Baker Company of Philadelphia began processing coconut instead of flour – that story is in American Cake – then the shredded, sweetened coconut was accessible to all. And it showed up in everyday fare, such as the following cake, which wasn’t grand, wasn’t tiered, wasn’t baked for parties. It was a sheet cake, and still is, with this most remarkable topping, story and name – the Lazy Daisy Cake.
One of America’s most-beloved cakes may be adored because of its catchy name. Popular in the 1930s, this sheet cake with broiled topping of coconut, brown sugar, and cream, was written about as early as 1914. And it is a recipe I share in American Cake and one shared with my by Mindy Merrell and her father Max Merrell who first tasted this cake dripping in brown sugar icing with coconut on top when he was a high school freshman in New Mexico.