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Grandma Liz’s Graham Wafer Crumb Cake


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2 cups graham wafer crumbs

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter softened

¼ cup flour

2 eggs 

2 ½ tsp. baking powder  

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup coconut, medium, unsweetened

1 cup milk


⅓ cup butter, melted

½ packed dark brown sugar

½ c each nuts and coconut, or 1 cup of only coconut or nuts

3 tbsp. heavy cream


Turn the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 pan.  As you will be using the broil setting for the topping, I don’t suggest using parchment paper unless you cut it very short.  Otherwise, it can burn very quickly while making the topping if there’s too much overhang.  

Blend cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating well after each addition. Put batter into the pan, smoothing the top.  

Bake for 25 minutes or until done. 

Meanwhile, make the topping.  Melt butter and add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.  

Once the cake is finished baking, remove it from the oven and turn the heat to broil.  Spread topping evenly over cake.  Return to the oven and broil for 2-3 minutes until the topping starts to bubble.  Watch carefully, as it will burn quickly if left unattended! 

Rob’s mom was renowned among her family and friends as a fantastic cook and baker. She loved a sugary and buttery dessert as much as I do and never failed to satisfy my sweet tooth with all her yummy treats. I had forgotten about this favourite cake she often made, so I hunted it down in my stash of old recipe cards. Just out of curiosity, I also looked it up online. Turns out that this was her version of the recipe on the back of the Nabisco Graham Wafer box in the 1960s or 1970s. Though the recipe didn’t call for it, she always finished it with a broiled coconut, butter and brown sugar mix, the same thing as she’d put on her Lazy Dazy or Oatmeal cakes.  Not only delicious, but the buttery topping helps keep the cake moist for days. The cake is surprisingly delicate with just a hint of nuttiness from the graham crumbs. Don’t use graham flour as a substitute. I suppose you could melt mini marshmallows on top, add a layer of melted chocolate and call it a s’mores cake. Hello Summer!

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