Appalachian Food

OATMEAL CAKE by Shelvagine Solesbee

Oatmeal cake in pan

You all know I’ve had Kenneth Roper on my mind a lot lately. My last update was that he is still improving and will hopefully be in a room where he can receive phone calls soon.

Over the weekend I decided to make Ken’s favorite cake. Here’s what he told me about the cake when he shared the recipe with me.

“When I was about 18 or 19 I worked with David Solesbee at American Thread for a couple of years. At our dinner break, David would have this wonderful cake made by his wife Shelvagine. She sent me a piece of this Oatmeal Cake and I really liked it. So a couple years ago, I called her and asked if she’d give me the recipe. She said “Lordy, I don’t know if I can remember what I did 48 years ago”…but she did.”

OATMEAL CAKE by Shelvagine Solesbee

Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over 1 cup Oatmeal (I used quick oats) and salt as if it were to be cooked.
Let stand while mixing the following.

1 1/3 cups self-rising flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon soda

Mix all ingredients together and add oatmeal. Mix all together, then pour into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 about 25 or 30 minutes or till done.


1 stick of margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sweet milk
1 cup or 1 can of coconut
1/2 cup pecans or you can use a small can of crushed pineapples

Melt butter and mix all topping ingredients together, adding nuts or pineapples. Pour over cake and put under broiler in oven till top is brown. Watch real close cause it burns real easily.

If you give Ken’s favorite cake a try, I know you’ll be glad you did—it’s very tasty and perfect for this time of the year.


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  • Reply
    October 12, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    This brings back memories- in the sixties my grandmother in Watauga County gave us three recipes one summer. They were Hillbilly Cake, Fruit Cocktaill Cake, and Oatmeal Cake. All three similar in some ways, but very good.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 12, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Her Macon County birth record says she’s Shelby J Cochran. The 1940 census looks like Shewagine. The 1960 High Point City directory has it spelled Shelbagine. Her mother’s Asheville Citizen-Times obituary in 2002 names her Shelvagine like Ken did. I would like to know what she calls herself. She’s my 3rd cousin. Her paternal grandmother was Sarah Ammons Cochran, my 1st cousin 2x removed and maternal grandfather was Vance Chapman DeHart, my 1st cousin 3x removed.
    The cake looks good but I am cooking for one. It would last me 12 days and my freezer is full. So, if you ask me what my favorite cake right now is, I would have to say it’s a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme.

  • Reply
    October 12, 2020 at 8:56 am

    You know I’m going to try it. I won’t feel one bit guilty eating a big piece while I convince myself that all that oatmeal is good for me.

  • Reply
    October 12, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Yup, that’s Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake, a vintage recipe from Quaker Oats.

  • Reply
    October 12, 2020 at 7:49 am

    My mother and I always made homemade cakes and cookies similiar to this when I was growing up, thank you for a new recipe that I cant wait to share with her!!!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 12, 2020 at 6:28 am

    That sounds a lot like the German Chocolate Cake I used to make except I never put pineapple in it. It sounds really good. It’s funny I never used to use cake mix, everything was home made. Then came cake mixes and now…I never make cakes. If I want cakes or deserts I go to Your house. You always have some goodies made!

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    October 12, 2020 at 6:13 am

    It is one of my favorite cakes! A friend made it for my birthday not many years ago. Delicious!

    BTW, my very favorite cake is a “made from scratch” Blackberry Jam Cake with Homemade Caramel Icing. I am pretty sure it is a southern and Appalachian favorite as well.

    • Reply
      Margie Goldstein
      October 12, 2020 at 8:42 am

      Oatmeal cake sounds DELISH! You had me at “cake!” — Jerry McGuire movie “They have no bread? Let them eat cake!”— Marie Antoinette

    • Reply
      Deborah Michelle Solesbee
      July 3, 2021 at 1:04 pm

      Can I please get that recipe? And is it possible to make without egg whites? Yolks are fine but we’re allergic to whites.

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