the evolution of a notebook – oatmeal rum-raisin cake

by hungryrabbit on May 18, 2012

Oatmeal Rum-Raisin Cake

Back in my early days as an architecture student, I’d carry a 5″x7″ notebook and fountain pen everywhere I went. A word, phrase, idea, mindless doodle, full sketches, and anything else that struck me I’d put it in the notebook. This habit of having a notebook is a very common among architecture and art students. Writers do something similar by keeping journals. It not only helps you organize your thoughts, it helps organize your life.

I kept dozens these notebooks lined up on shelves like a set of encyclopedias of my life. A new notebook was particularly handy when I planned a trip–it would become my abridged guidebook, reference sources, and collection device for travel memorabilia such as tickets to museums and business cards from restaurants.

I believe I used four entire notebooks during my summer architecture program in Rome. Between the photography and sketches of cathedrals, markets, and local sites, I had Italy’s architecture and urban planning fairly well documented.

After many years of relying on the comfort of a paper notebook, the evolution of technology made me rethink my method of collecting and storing. The notebook gradually got smaller and the lack of time to indulge in my artistic expression made this companion more of a to-do list and reminders.

By 2011, everyone owned a mobile phone and/or computer, and the days of organizing by Filofax and Palm Pilot seemed as distant as a Sony Walkman. Last year, I was introduced to the Evernote app, which let’s you save notes, articles, photos, and just about anything else you’d want to keep. This amazing utility automatically syncs to all your devices, so you can access your gems from anywhere.

The evolution of my notebook got me thinking about how desserts can morph to suit your needs. Ever since I posted Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies in the beginning of 2011, the intrigue of turning this classic into a cake has been scribbled into my notebook–here’s my rendition on the classic with a few delightful twists.

Oatmeal Rum-Raisin Cake

recipe by hungry rabbit
yield: One 8-inch cake


3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats, divided
1-1/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup (6 ounces) dark rum
1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup malted milk powder
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to middle position. Spray two 8-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line bottoms with parchment rounds. Spray paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Set aside.

2. Stir together 3/4 cups boiling water and 1/2 cup oats; let stand 20 minutes. Combine raisins and rum in a small bowl, let soak for 20 minutes. Whisk flour, baking soda and ground cinnamon together in a small bowl, set aside.

3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, malt milk powder, sugars, and salt on medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed.

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, add vanilla and beat until just combine. Beat in oatmeal mixture.

5. Beat in half of flour mixture until just moistened; add sour cream to combine. Add remaining flour mixture until just combined.

6. Drained raisins and reserve rum. Add raisins and remaining 1/2 cup oat to batter, beat until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.

7. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25- 30 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, invert cake onto cooling rack and cool completely, about 45 minutes. (Leave parchment on cakes until cakes are cooled completely)

Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Icing

adapted from Cook’s Country
yield: about 4 cups


1 cup (8 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (1-1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons malted milk powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons reserved rum from soaking raisins
24 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (3 sticks), cut into 24 pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract


1. Combine sugars, baking soda, flour, milk powder, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl (sift the ingredients into bowl if brown sugar are too lumpy). Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Pour mixture through fine-mesh strainer into medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils and is very thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Add rum, stir to combine and cook for another minute. Transfer milk mixture to clean bowl and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer whipped butter into a medium bowl and return mixing bowl to stand mixer (no need  to clean mixing bowl).

3. Switch to a whisk attachment, add cooled milk mixture, vanilla and almond extract, beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Use immediately for soft-swirl frosting or cover and refrigerate for firmer texture, about 1 hour.


1. Place one layer on the cake stand. Spread about 1/2 cup icing over the top. Place second cake layer on top,  spread remaining icing on top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Serve.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian @ A Thought For Food May 18, 2012 at 7:46 am

I too used to always carry a notebook with me… With technology, however, I can now either just record interviews I do or take notes on my iPhone.

This cake looks like just the thing I would sneak for breakfast, Ken!

Cathy May 18, 2012 at 8:23 am

You had me at the first photo. Must make this beauty! And ps I can’t give up my notebook. As a landscape designer, I, too, kept those drawings and notes, addresses of good ideas… Even as I morph to writer, the notebook endures.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar May 18, 2012 at 8:25 am

This cake is beautiful! Love this idea…and that icing?! Amazing!

Michelle May 18, 2012 at 9:33 am

Looks delicious, what a great idea to turn this into a cake. and I still carry a small notebook in my purse, I can’t let go of writing things down on paper, seems I remember what I meant more that the notes on my phone. I look back and see that “autocorrect” changed some words and I can’t figure out what I meant in the first place.

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 18, 2012 at 10:01 am

This cake looks fabulous… I love how you took the classic cookies and make such a gorgeous and luscious cake!

Barbara | Creative Culinary May 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I remember the cookies but what is NOT to love about this cake. You had me at rum and then frosting too? Fabulous for sure.

Amy @ FragrantVanillaCake May 19, 2012 at 4:19 pm

This is some serious deliciousness! This cake sounds amazing, I love oats in anything and the rum is a great idea! I would love a large slice of this! So beautiful as well!

Tiffany May 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Man, this sounds awesome! Love oatmeal raisin cookies. First time seeing it as cake.

Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen May 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I remember when I used to keep notes in the form of actual “notes” too… btw, lovely cake, as always!

Sasha @ The Procrastobaker May 20, 2012 at 3:45 am

Anything rum and raisin gets my full attention, let alone when there is gorgeous cake involved! Awesome recipe :)

Summicron May 20, 2012 at 6:33 am

Did I hear rum and raisin? :) Bookmarked and looking forward to try your recipe. Thanks!

Yenn May 20, 2012 at 9:35 am


I was wondering if we could replace the Malted Milk Powder with anything else? I really want to try to make this, it sounds so yummy!!!
Unfortunately I am out of town so I only have limited ingredients :(

hungryrabbit May 20, 2012 at 9:45 am

You can use dry milk powder or omit it. It gives the cake a more milky taste, like the cookie.

beti May 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

It looks amazing! the frosting is the best part

Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out May 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I need to get a better notebook for carrying with me…I get to work sometimes and have to find random sticky notes to jot down ideas on! My kitchen is covered with them.

This cake looks beautiful! I really like that it has oatmeal in it…turning an oatmeal cookie into a cake, too smart!

Betty Ann @Mango_Queen May 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm

OH.MY.GOD! I want this now! ’nuff said.

Liren May 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I still carry around a black notebook wherever I go. Sometimes it’s just easier than pulling out an iPad. But funny you should mention the archaic technology; I saw the other day my old Palm, which I stil have (I seem convinced that I have info there I need to transfer, but haven’t found the time to do so). It seems like a dinosaur!

I love how you transformed those cookies into this gorgeous cake, Ken. Wish I had a slice right now :) xo

myfudo May 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm

My mom tells me I shouldn’t be having sweets for breakfast, but I cannot help but have something as delicious as this when I want to for breakfast. Anyway, it has oatmeal in it, and booze so it will definitely perk me up. Yey! A must try! And yes, it is hard for me to say goodbye to my filofax…but a trusted friend has to say goodbye sometime. =)

Sarah May 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Call me old-school, but I still carry around a Filofax. It put my ideas into it, then write articles on Evernote. That cake looks amazing, and the icing work is lovely!

Jeanne @ CookSister! June 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

Hey – I never knew you studied architecture?? Cool! I didn’t – but that did not stop me from carrying a journal with me everywhere I went and writing down everything in it. Reading my old journals now is absolutely fantastic – like stepping into a time capsule. Love that you turned this cookie into a cake – and such a gorgeous one too.

LoveAffair June 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Hey there. I saw your cake on Top 9 and just had to try it. The combination sounded so good. It was sooo delicious that I couldn’t wait for it to cool :)

Sarah Crowder September 7, 2012 at 10:33 am

This looks amazing! I think my dad would love it. One question about the recipe: I don’t see where to add the first 1/2 c of oats? I see where to soak them and where to add the remaining 1/2 c…but when do the soaked oats get added? And do you drain them first? Thanks in advance!

Sarah Crowder September 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

Oops one more question – the cake recipe says 1 c brown sugar, divided. I don’t see where it’s divided?

hungryrabbit September 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Hi Sarah, thank you for visiting my blog and point out the mistakes in the recipe. I’ve made the changes and hope your Dad like the cake. -Ken

Laura Dembowski June 11, 2013 at 3:26 pm

This is such a unique cake and sounds absolutely fantastic. I cannot wait to try it!!!!

Lindsay September 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm

This looks amazing! I want to use it to build a castle cake with for my flatmate’s birthday; is the cake dense enough for that do you think?



hungryrabbit September 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Hi Lindsay, I do not recommend this cake for building your castle. It’s a moist cake, thus not ‘structurally’ sound for your purpose. How about a chocolate cake? or a yellow cake base, such as this Creamsicle Cake -Ken

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