Poke Cake Recipe

For a light and moist treat, whip up this Poke Cake Recipe reminiscent of the Depression era. Be sure to include the coconut and graham cracker crumbles.

March/April 2015

  • While the original request called it graham cracker pudding, it was baked as a sheet cake. This recipe for no-name cake is what is known as a 'poke' cake, but it's close to what Randy requested.
    Photo by Lori Dunn

A Depression-Era Recipe

Randy Dowdy, Lovelady, Texas, recalls a graham cracker pudding made by his Depression-era mother, who was raised in Kansas. He remembers that it contained graham cracker crumbs, eggs, milk and coconut, and it was baked like a sheet cake. The treat was light and moist.

Most of the responses we received — as well as most of the recipes found online — did not include coconut. April Manar, Smithville, Missouri, sent a recipe given to her by a friend. “It was a very old recipe when she had it, since she was already in her 60s when I met her. I have had it all these years, more than 30. Madeline has long been gone, but she was a wonderful friend and cook to a very young neighbor, me.”

No-Name Cake



• 2 sticks butter, room temperature
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 eggs
• 1 can fine cut coconut*
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 16 ounces graham cracker crumbs
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup chopped black walnuts
• Walnut flavoring


• 1 box (1 pound) confectioner’s sugar
• 1 stick butter, melted
• 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
• Pineapple juice


1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease 3 layer pans or a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. To make cake: In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in coconut.

3. In separate bowl, combine baking powder with cracker crumbs. Add alternatively with milk to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and a little flavoring.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake layers for 24 to 30 minutes, or 9-by-13 for 45 minutes, or until done.

5. To make frosting: Combine all frosting ingredients, use as much juice as desired. (The frosting should be juicy.)

6. To put it all together: Either immediately after cake is removed from oven or when cake is cool, poke holes into cake with toothpick. Drizzle frosting over cake, allowing the cake to soak up the frosting.

*Editor’s Note:  The original recipe does not indicate the can size for the coconut, and we were unable to locate such an item. From other online recipes, it appears it might work to substitute 1 to 1-1/2 cups fine cut coconut or 1 to 1-1/2 cups flaked coconut, pulsed fine in a food processor. Fine cut coconut can be purchased in bulk at various outlets.

Interested in more fun recipes? Check out Recipe Box: Sweet Potato Cake Recipe and More for cookie and cake recipes containing unusual dessert ingredients including navy beans.

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