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Lazy Daisy Cake (1940’s Recipe)

Lazy Daisy Cake a recipe from the 1940’s is one of my favorite vintage cakes! I can just imagine a vintage housewife serving it with coffee to a group of lady friends while saying “I didn’t have time to go all out, so I just whipped this cake up”.

The name implies a simple cake, especially with the fuss-free broiled frosting that is so quick and easy. But this isn’t just any plain jane cake. The dense yet fluffy vanilla cake, is great on its own, in fact, it also goes by the name hot milk cake which is good in its own right, but when topped with the coconut-butter-brown sugar topping, there is just something so undeniably good about this cake, it is easy to see why this recipe has stood the test of time.

I really wish I could pin down an exact date of publication for this recipe, but after a lot of Googling all I could come up with are comments on recipes such as: “a staple in my Grandmother’s house“, “Mama’s ‘never fail’ recipe“,”As a child my Grandmother made this for me.” , “been around since the 30’s“. I didn’t feel there was much to be learned about the origins of this recipe, but it was clear that many others know and love this cake, and have for a very long time. I also think it is safe to assume that before boxed cake mixes, this was the original convenience cake.

Lazy Daisy Cake on vintage plate with red polka dot napkin in background

Lazy Daisy Cake

When I first got married, I found this recipe in a cookbook that was given to me. And in all honesty, the recipe had me at lazy. With a new baby, new house and a whole lot of inexperience in the cooking department I figured any cake that had lazy in the name must surely be easy enough for me. I was wrong, or at least I didn’t fully account for the effect of the lack of sleep from the said newborn baby and forgot the cream in the topping. This was only one of many cooking from scratch failures that happened in the early days, I sure cranked out my fair share of kitchen disasters. The exclusion of milk in the topping wasn’t really a disaster, but the topping cooked to a hard praline candy-like coating, and it took me years to give this recipe another try.

Close up view of a slice of lazy daisy cake

Lazy Daisy Cake

Lazy Daisy Cake

Yield: 12 people
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

The classic hot milk vanilla cake with a coconut-butter-brown sugar topping.



  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 cup milk

Coconut Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 2 cups flaked coconut


  1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture and beat just until combined. In a saucepan, bring milk and butter to a boil, stirring constantly. Add to batter and beat until combined.
  2. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  3. While the cake bakes prepare the icing. In a medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, butter, and cream. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil then turn off the heat and stir in the coconut.
  4. Once the cake has baked remove it from the oven and turn on the broiler. Spread the icing evenly over the cake, then place the cake under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until the icing is bubbling all over. Remove the cake from the oven to a wire cooling rack and cool to room temperature in the pan before slicing and serving. Keeps for up to three days in an air tight container at room temperature.
Lazy Daisy Cake on a plate and in a 9x 13 pan

Lazy Daisy Cake

My recipe makes a large 9×13 pan, big enough to take to a pot-luck or to keep in the pantry for your family to snack on through the weekend, it will stay fresh for 3 days at room temperature if covered. But if you don’t want to make that much cake this cake is very easily scaled down, just use a 8 or 9 inch round or square pan and Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

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Friday 18th of November 2022

My Mother passed this recipe down to me and I've been baking it for many, many years. Always a big hit! the only difference is that I pour the topping on at the end and sprinkle the coconut on top, then put it under the broiler.

Another thing I sometimes do is bake the cake in a round pan and slice it like a pie to serve. This way, everyone gets some of yummy sticky gooey topping end bit!


Tuesday 25th of January 2022

I made your cake today and this is the second time this month! Delissio it’s better and better every time I taste it. Today I poked the cake and the caramel soaked into that moist cake… wow, it was awesome. Kudos Love your recipe very much! Thank You!


Thursday 19th of August 2021

I made this cake first time made it for my mom she love it just as much as I did will bake it again thanks for the recipe.


Wednesday 18th of August 2021

I made this cake and it is so good! I could actually eat just the cake without frosting because it is has such a good texture and flavor. My mom used to make this cake (over 50 years ago). It was her favorite cake and she would always say she couldn't leave it alone. Talk about memories!!!

Lija Day

Thursday 1st of July 2021

I made this gluten free by swapping the flours, everything else is the same, awesome simple cake!

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