Recipes

morning glory breakfast cake

It’s hardly the biggest surprise of parenting, but I’ve yet to get my head around the idea that I’ve taken part in creating a morning person. My son has always woken up early; if it’s 5/5:30am, he’s on the sofa, reading a thick book, wondering why we do not care to watch the sunrise with him. Over the years, we’ve tried everything to change his wiring — lecturing, star charts, bribery, begging, asking the pediatrician to talk some sense into him [although “he wakes up early and reads chapter books!” didn’t quite have the doom-and-gloom impact we’d thought it would], prayer — and eventually, as you might have inferred from referring to it as wiring, we gave up.

what you'll need

When you wake up at the crack of dawn, you also require breakfast at an earlier hour than normal people, like your parents, who love to sleep. So there’s no, uh, confusion as to what is and is not a “breakfast food,” we’ve taken to packing him a breakfast and leaving it in the fridge: a hard-boiled egg, fruit, cheese, and some sort of muffin. After working my way through my own muffin archives, I realized that I was missing one of those hippie/morning glory-ish muffins that he loves, loaded with carrots and apple and dried fruit, sometimes coconut, and spices. I’ve made a few versions over the last few months, and was about to go another round when a new (out tomororw), wonderful cookbook arrived at my doorstep: Yossy Arefi’s Snacking Cakes.


grated carrotgrated applesapples, carrots, coconut, raisins, pineappleadd the dry ingredientsspread in pansprinkle with pepitas, if you wish

I probably don’t need to tell you that the idea of a snacking cake is firmly within the SK wheelhouse — I think cakes can be an everyday, just-because-it’s-Monday thing, and lucky for us, Arefi does too. I went right for the Morning Glory Cake and wondered why I’ve been fussing with muffin liners and trying to achieve the perfect dome when pouring it all in a pan is so much easier. I’ve tweaked Arefi’s recipe to make it even more breakfast-y — I lowered the sugar and oil, just a bit, swapped in whole wheat flour, raw sugar for white, added some dried fruit as well as coconut (both nods to the original*), ginger, because I like it here, and I use some toasted, salted pepitas on top. The cake remains plush and perfect for whatever hour you call breakfast.

* Did you know that the Morning Glory muffin has an official recipe? Pam McKinstry, created them in 1978 for her restaurant on Nantucket. The recipe was first published in Gourmet in 1981, and they were wildly popular for decades.

morning glory breakfast cake

Previously

6 months ago: How I Stock The Smitten Kitchen
1 year ago: Skillet Ravioli with Spinach
2 years ago: Candy Pork
3 years ago: Sausage and Potato Roast with Arugula and Bakery-Style Butter Cookies
4 years ago: Russian Honey Cake, Pumpkin Bread and Winter Squash Pancakes with Crispy Sage and Brown Butter
5 years ago: The Broccoli Roast and Salted Peanut Butter Cookies
6 years ago: Fall-Toush Salad and Carrot Cake with Cider and Olive Oil
7 years ago: Lazy Pizza Dough + Perfect Magherita Pizza and Apple Slab Pie
8 years ago: Pancetta, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Pot Pies and Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel
9 years ago: Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt
10 years ago: Roasted Eggplant Soup and Apple and Cheddar Scones
11 years ago: Jalapeno Cheddar Scones and Apple Cider Doughnuts
12 years ago: Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup and My Family’s Noodle Kugel
13 years ago: Arroz Con Pollo and Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
14 years ago: Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons and Wild Mushroom Galette

Morning Glory Breakfast Cake

No need to peel the apple or carrot before you grate them. The original recipe uses 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans instead of the coconut; half are in the cake, half sprinkled on top. It used 3/4 cup each sugar and oil but I preferred the cake for breakfast with the reduced levels, below. It also called for 1 tablespoon optional flax seeds on top but I used 2 tablespoons pepitas instead. This cake has a lot of built-in flexibility and many swaps not listed might work (such as pears for apples or zucchini for carrots) but the baking time might be longer.

  • 1 cup (145 grams) grated apple (from 1 7-ounce/medium-large apple)
  • 1 cup (115 grams) grated carrot (from 1 thick carrot)
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) very well-drained crushed pineapple or chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup raisins or another dried fruit (optional)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) raw or granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (155 ml) neutral oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons toasted, salted pepitas (optional)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 8-inch square baking pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment and let it extend up two sides of the pan.

In a large bowl, combine apple, carrot, pineapple, coconut, dried fruit, if using, lemon zest, sugar, and oil. Add eggs, and whisk to combine. Sprinkle spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda over the batter and stir very well to combine. Add flour, and stir just until it disappears.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle pepitas over cake, if using. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. Let cool in pan then carefully cut into squares with a serrated knife.

The cake is very moist and a little crumbly. I find that it keeps best in the fridge. The cake will keep for 5 to 6 days, chilled.

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229 comments on morning glory breakfast cake

    1. Linda

      I just bought Snacking Cakes and love it. My son and I made the berry cream cheese cake last night (for today’s breakfast) and we loved it! I am looking forward to trying this cake, too.

        1. Monica

          I just made this and the texture didn’t turn out right at all. I added a little extra sugar because it was mentioned that the original used a little more and I like cake to be sweet. The cake is very coarse, like too much liquid or too much leavener, and took longer to cook through.

    1. Monica

      I just made this and the texture didn’t turn out right at all. I added a little extra sugar because it was mentioned that the original used a little more and I like cake to be sweet. The cake is very coarse, like too much liquid or too much leavener, and took a long time to cook through.

    2. Vicki

      I didn’t have any pineapple, so I just increased the grated apple and carrot (40 g of each). It came out really well! Nice and moist.

  1. Lindsey

    Deb— Can this be made into muffins? How many and what cooking time, please? Every week, I make a batch of muffins and freeze them, and then pull one out each morning for my breakfast with fruit/yogurt. I am currently working through a batch of your blue sky brand muffins. This recipe will be next! Thanks!

    1. Brenda

      What kind of apple did you use? My default for buying apples is a Granny Smith but I’m guessing a “softer” apple would be better. A sweeter apple. I have always lived in the south so I’m not well versed on apples. Thanks!

      1. Nily

        I live in North Carolina and my other-than-Granny Smith go-to apple is Fuji. I use them in my Jewish Apple Cake recipe and have heard no complaints … only num-num-num … LOL.

      2. Caley

        I used some mcintosh apples I had on hand and upped the apple and carrot by 40g as suggested as a sub for the pineapple. They were amazing. We also sprinkled a little sugar in the raw on top along with the pepitas. Great success!

  2. Aarthi

    How is it possible for you to read minds ? I love morning glory muffins and have the same kid- albeit a girl and 6 who gets up and reads and no amount of pleading to sleep in is getting us anywhere.

    1. Lauren W

      Sleep deprived parents of early risers unite (as we guzzle gallons of coffee)! Deb this cake looks delicious and I’m making it ASAP. I may even hoard it for myself as I did with a recent batch of your whole wheat choc chip cookies :) Can baked goods replace sleep? My kiddo has of late been sleeping in until 6:30 or even 6:45. Still painfully early for this night owl, but seems somewhat indolent compared to 5/5:30am.

      1. Amanda M

        Don’t worry, we’ll be falling back this weekend just in time for all of that to go out the window (insert eye roll, why is this still a thing?). I gave birth to two early risers, I’m hoping that their teen years will break them of this habit.

        1. Bev

          Three very early risers here—until adolescence/teenage years hit. Then it was impossible to get them up before noon, and their night-owlish behaviours persists! When they were still in a crib, I tied a fabric book bag (that I sewed) to the rail, and then they had books to “read” every morning, always books that they didn’t get to see the rest of the day so they were considered special! That way, we got a little more sleep each morning than they did.

    2. Trushna

      Another parent of an early riser here! Finally at 6yo he can dress himself & make his own breakfast, so we win an hour. I’ll take what I can get. This cake would be a great reward for him if he gives us extra time on the weekends!

  3. Megan

    I hope you get a kick out of this… a few weeks ago I was on here to see if you had a morning glory muffin recipe. Instead I saw your carrot cake with cider and olive oil so I turned that into muffins and added apples, pepitas, oats, the works (it was incredible) and now this shows up? You’re like my fairy godmother, Deb!! Haha I will certainly be making this soon.

  4. JV

    You don’t have to peel the fruits and veggies?!? Hallelujah! This looks awesome (perfect for stress eating for the next week or so)!
    Your son sounds like a very bright child :) isn’t it great once they can read and help themselves to breakfast? ;)

  5. Miriam

    I’m with you in solidarity on the early riser thing. We have tried everything and our two-year-old just doesn’t like to sleep past the crack of dawn. How do you get your son to read early in the morning? That sounds like a win to me!

  6. Purnima Mani

    Our family isn’t a fan of coconut in baked goods. Could I just skip it, or should we swapping it out for other chopped nuts?

  7. elembee123

    Yum! This is just what I was looking for to help ward off the morning hangries!

    Do you have a link for your grater? I have been looking for one that hooks over the edge instead of having to be dropped down into the bowl to use. Most hand graters are flat, which is fine for light stuff like spices, but when wrestling with larger items like carrots it would be great to have that lip for stabilization.

    Thanks, Deb!

  8. JP

    Looks delish but I can’t help focusing on the fact that you cut an 8” cake into 12 pieces making each serving a 2” square. I have to say, I envy your restraint! I can never seem to get more than 9 pieces and sometimes 8 out of this size cake. Especially if it was breakfast (maybe if I was serving fruit, cheese and a hard boiled egg I’d feel differently). I am happy to see this recipe however, because morning glory muffins are a long time fave around here. Thanks!

  9. Susan

    As the superlark of my family I’ve never been able to change my early-rising ways but the quiet sunrises have made up for the inconvenience. Now if I could just get someone to leave some cake in the fridge for me….

  10. Eeka

    I was that early rising, reading kid, who wondered why no one else wanted to watch the sunrise with me.
    My grandmother taught me to make pancakes when I was 8, so on Saturdays, at least, my early rising paid off.
    This cake looks tempting.

  11. Debora

    I wish I would wake up at 5 to read books:) The recipe sounds lovely. Do you have any tips on how to replace pineapple in the recipe?

    1. deb

      In these pandemic times, whatever I can get. :) I’ve been using all sorts of brands since March, but currently, King Arthur. It’s grainy but smooth.

      Maybe other people already know this but if you’re not someone who uses whole wheat flour every week, keep it in the freezer. I find it definitely gets musty sooner. I use it pretty often and still find the 5# bags to often … lose quality before I can get through them.

  12. MR in NJ

    I recall reading long ago that for baking, fresh pineapple should not be used–only canned. (It had something to do with enzymes?) Or does that apply only to majorly pineapple-y items, such as upside-down cake? Or maybe it isn’t true at all.

    1. Julie Lynn

      The fresh pineapple restriction doesn’t apply to baking, but it can’t be used in gelatin recipes because the enzymes stop the gelling process. In canned pineapple these enzymes have been deactivated by being heated. Fresh pineapple is lovely for baked goods! Yum!

  13. The cake looks wonderful! I am a turn the muffin/cupcake into and 8×8 cake person for various reasons … mainly, I no longer have a muffin/cupcake pan and don’t really want one :)

    I am also an early to bed/early to rise person, but my entire family was also so no mixed timetable issues … except, I have always been a “middle of the night” get up and look/go outside person. My mother loves to tell that I would be all excited to tell how the moon looked when the big hand was on 12 and the little hand was on 2. To this day (I am now 65), I often wake in the 2:00 a.m. vicinity, get up and look out … sometimes go out for a look (I live in NW Montana on rural acreage) and if my dog gets up, we go out together for a quick breath of night air, a gander at the night sky and the dog stuff for the dog :).

  14. Jenn

    Made this as soon as you posted it! Followed the recipe using the weights you provided and it is AMAZING. The spice level and sweetness level are spot on- so flavorful and moist- wouldn’t change a thing! This is a keeper ❤️

  15. Jenny T

    My mom’s carrot cake recipe is similar to this. It’s been a family favorite since I can remember. My dad requests it for his birthday every year. One weekend, I was home from college helping my mom make it, and on a whim, we decided to add a minced jalapeño to the batter. It was amazing! We then decided to glaze it with melted pepper jelly. Holy cow! This became the new tradition, and a few years ago, my mom made this in cupcake form for my wedding!! Seriously. My favorite cake ever!

  16. Katie

    Oh, yeah, I’ll be making this at the first available opportunity. I freaking love morning glory muffins, but I hate making actual muffins – a cake is perfect. We’re gluten free, so I’ll make a GF version and let you know how it goes.

    My sympathies, I have a 9yo early riser, who also loves chapter books and has questionable ideas for what constitutes breakfast food. She’ll love this cake too.

    1. Alene

      Oh yes please! If you use gluten free flour, let us know how it comes out, and which one you used, please. I have to be gluten free, so I always check the comments to see if anyone tried it.

  17. This looks delicious and so healthy and I love the spices combination. A great solution to just needing a little something to have with a cuppa for morning tea as well, or even brunch. Love it, thanks sk. Best wishes, Pauline

    1. Jess

      Hi, I omitted sugar and did 1/3c maple syrup and 1/3c coconut sugar, and it worked well. I’m confident 100% maple syrup sub would work too.

    2. Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt

      This is insanely delicious. I did have a problem or two, however. I couldn’t get a cup of grated apple or carrot out of the single apple or 3 carrots, so added another apple. That may have led to my other problem. While the cake was cooked through ( clean toothpick), it wasn’t solid. Shook like a bowl full of calls foot jelly. It’s the fridge now and we’ll see how it looks tomorrow.

      Also I always substitute Chinese Five Spice for cinnamon, and the star anise, fennel and black pepper just LIT UP the flavor palette!

      I think next time I’ll just grate one Fuji apple and drain the pineapple better, and maybe add an additional quarter cup of King Arthur whole wheat flour. But the flavor and coarse texture of this cake are outstanding. Thank you, Deb!

  18. Ottie

    I omitted the coconut and thought I would add some oats…turns out I didn’t have any. So, I just upped the flour a bit. Super yum. Mine took a bit longer to cook than the 35 mins. I love that this isn’t super sweet, can’t wait to have it with coffee in the morning.

  19. Maya

    This looks delicious! I’m all for cake for breakfast. On the topic of early rising children, my son was one of those–and then he hit puberty. You may yet have a teenager who needs to sleep in. Cheers!

  20. CinMac62

    Inspired me this morning! Just threw one together and added some hemp and sunflower seeds since I had no pepitas today. Thank you for the inspiration!

  21. Laura

    Do you think you would use honey or maple syrup as a sweetener and if so how much? And how about coconut oil or avocado oil? Are those neutral? I love morning glory muffins. The cake idea is smart. Thanks!

  22. Donna c

    I’m that guy! Lol. Currently unemployed due to COVID and still out of bed at 5. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the cookbook!!

  23. I love cakes for breakfast! Will definitely make this because I agree: why fiddle with muffins when you could pour it all in a pan?! Also I make a shoofly cake for breakfast sometimes because it’s easier than pie.

  24. Mary Louise

    Hi Deb,
    Love your site. Might you consider posting nutritional count in future recipes? I’d love to be able to put these into my daily calorie count easily.
    Mary Louise

    1. Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt

      I counted the grams and used the whole Foods morning glory muffins for an approximate calorie count on Noom. About a tablespoon was about 45 calories.

  25. Lisa

    I’m firmly in the early morning bird riser camp but my advantage is that my entire family is ~ my mother, my uncles ~ we all rise before dawn and go to sleep early. For me it’s been over 50 years this way so good luck with changing the wiring on your son!

    As for the Morning Glory muffins from Gourmet in 1981 ~ let me tell you they were a game changer. So damn good. Can’t wait to make the updated version of this snacking cake ~ thanks so much!

  26. Jeanette

    Yummmyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In my town, I would go to a bakery to get Morning glory muffins!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for my own recipe now!

    1. Anna

      Usually swapping in butter can make a slightly denser mouthfeel for cakes eaten at room temperature, but with all the mix-ins I bet this cake could handle it.

  27. Jordan

    I cannot wait to make this. Also as a fellow morning person who is usually ready to move onto lunch by the time my parents are eating breakfast, the idea that you pack your son a breakfast just warms my heart!

  28. Sam

    Turned out great, family loved it! Very moist and flavorful. Good tip on keeping in the fridge overnight.

    I think next time, I’ll use less sugar, it was definitely on the sweet side for me!

    1. Mel

      Made it! Swapped out the oil and eggs and sugar for: 2 very ripe bananas mashed with 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds, 3 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp date syrup (whisk until the bananas are liquefied). Also swapped the coconut for old fashioned oats (same weight). It is very dense and moist, but delicious! I might add chopped dates next time. According to my app, each square of my version (I got nine out of the pan) is 153 calories.

      1. Amy S.

        I so appreciate this swap information. I have a pretty relentless sweet tooth, even after morning meals. This would satisfy that urge with something more healthy to go with my coffee. I would even feel okay eating this as a later evening snack instead of something else.

  29. Dez

    Yay! Morning Glory breads/muffins normally include walnuts or pecans and I never know what to substitute for the volume (allergic). The coconut and pepitas are a great option.

  30. Laurie

    I just made this and it’s yummy! I’m eating a slice now. It seems very customizable. I didn’t have pineapple, so I added extra apple instead. I used toasted pecans instead of the dried fruit. So good!

  31. I love your use of the word “plush” for cakes–you do that fairly frequently, and it’s perfect for describing the kind of texture you want! BTW, I push people relentlessly to your website. Made your fabulous carrot-chickpea-pistachio salad for a big do this past Saturday and when I was asked for the recipe just directed my questioner to your site. I’m including it with my changes in a cookbook of my own, giving you full credit, of course. (I don’t roast the chickpeas, for one thing.) Even my sons likes that salad. I think I’ll make this cake for breakfast tomorrow.

  32. Brenda

    I laughed when I saw this!
    I made morning glory muffins last week for the first time in probably 20 years!
    Bathrooms getting renovated. Need something to keep the tradespeople happy and motivated!
    Morning glory cake *is* a better idea.
    Thanks!

  33. Jaime

    I made this as muffins – I just ate one fresh out of the oven and the flavor is delicious and exactly what I was craving after seeing this recipe! I buttered the muffin tin, but I highly recommend using parchment or cups because they still stuck. My oven tends to run hot, so I started checking around 15 min – they were done in about 15. The recipe is a keeper – will definitely make next as a cake!

  34. You described our household so well – I read excerpts of the first few paragraphs aloud and my early riser asked, “Did you write that?” He’s been known to help himself to icebox cake for breakfast while we were all still in bed… this would be a healthier breakfast option and perhaps nearly as tasty. We both like the idea of baking it as a cake. Plus it’s easier to wash an 8 x 8 pan than a muffin tin, he noted (from experience). We’ll be making it soon. Thank you.

  35. Kristen

    This is amazing! I missed the “no peeling needed” comment- so peeled my carrot and apple. Used canned pineapple chunks and chopped them and drained well. Upon tasting I would never have guessed whole wheat flour! Truly delicious! Thank you!

  36. EastWestGirl

    OMG. Very little of this cake is going to make it to tomorrow morning.
    I whirred the apple and carrot through the food processor shred attachment. Easy peasy.
    I love the suggestion of adding pecans. That’s going to make it even more irresistible so help me.

  37. Rebecca

    These were the perfect treat for my adult sensibilities. They look like autumn, feel slightly more nutritious the some recipes, and my 5 year old loved them, too. I added walnuts and a little more cinnamon since I was out of ginger. I recommend keeping the pepitas; they toast nicely and add a rich flavor.

  38. Irene

    I didn’t have any pineapple, but used mango instead- I think it would be better served by the pineapple. Delicious muffin in a pan.

  39. Taryn

    I’m excited to try this version, Deb! I recently tried a Morning Glory quick bread/loaf cake recipe, and was underwhelmed…I wanted to toast it like your zucchini bread, but it falls apart, and was a little less sweet than I’d have preferred. Your version sounds like an improvement!

  40. Jessica

    I made this tonight! I love morning glory muffins and had most ingredients on hand. Maybe my apple and carrot were especially large but the batter seemed very wet so I added a bit more flour and had to use 2 8×8 pans. The cake was delicious!

    Changes I made: no lemon or cardamom, I subbed walnuts for pepitas.

  41. Rebecca Costello

    Swaps/alterations mostly to work with what was in the house: pumpkin puree instead of pineapple, almost twice the amount of carrot, pecans instead of coconut/pepitas, currants instead of raisins. I also did a bit of oat flour to finish up a bag, and then the rest whole wheat. I also took the sugar down to 100g because I almost always prefer things less sweet, even when they’re already not very sweet! This just came out of the oven and I couldn’t resist digging out a square still warm :-) It turned out great! Given all my modifications, I agree that this is likely an extremely forgiving recipe where you can swap in and out – use it as a canvas for your breakfast cake dreams!

    1. teegan

      oooh, pumpkin puree instead of pineapple sounds like my kind of swap. and doubling the carrots. and decreasing sugar. thanks for the heads up that all of this works!

    2. Sarah Gee

      i made this too, but i lowered the sugar to 1/3 of a cup and was happy with the sweetness level for the morning. i measured out 100g of sugar based on previous comment and then put it in a cup measure just to see. it was over 1/3 by a bit so i just decided to go with the 1/3 as experiment. probably about 70 g.

  42. Louisa

    If your son is younger than a teenager, his rising habits might change! As a child I used to be a very early riser, I’d wake up at 6 and read encyclopaedias on the living room floor until people woke up/got back from their morning walks, but once I hit puberty I ended up waking at 7 or so. Now I’m the one who needs waking up, and my parents are the early risers. I’d still consider myself a morning person because I’m still sharper at that end of the day, but I need a half hour in bed drinking tea and reading a book before I feel “awake.”
    I’m very curious to try this recipe – I’ve only had a few carrot cakes in my life since I have a nut allergy and most of them are off limits. Thank you for all of your lovely recipes!

  43. Delfina

    I made it this morning and bottom line: TRY THIS. NOW. GO.
    I don’t improv, I stick to recipes, but this time around, because I don’t have a square pan, I made it into 12 muffins. I only had half a lemon at the back of my fridge, so I used less lemon zest. I also ran out of sugar while doing it so only used 100gr or maybe less, and skipped the raisins. Still, perfection. Thank you!

  44. Caroline Iosso

    Hi Deb and all! I’m allergic to apples/pears/plums/etc – would you recommend substituting the apple with more carrot or more pineapple? Thank you!

  45. Looks great! We will be trying it out this weekend

    I can relate about having a child who is an early riser . . . My 8 year old likes to wake up at 5:30am.

  46. Jessica

    I made this and its amazing!! I didn’t add the coconut because I wasn’t feeling it, I double the spices because I like a lot of spice and I used brown sugar but those were the only changes I made and it was fabulous! Will stay in the rotation for sure!

  47. Dana

    Added pecan bits (about 1/4 cup) instead of raisins and substituted the granulated sugar with a heaping 1/3C of light brown. Took the salt down to 1/4 tsp as well. Turned out great!

  48. Anne

    Very nice cake. I used raisins as the optional dried fruit. Used spelt and all purpose flours and reduced sugar a little. Great texture and flavour; will definitely make again.

  49. Sue

    I made this tonight – it’s very moist and tasty. Another time I would definitely add less oil as it’s quite oily to touch and was left with an oily feeling in my mouth. I used a lot less sugar than in recipe and was glad I did as it was plenty sweet enough with the pineapple, apple and dried fruit. I think I’d prefer more spices as well to add more flavour

    A good cake (or muffins) to make with a few tweaks next time

      1. Maeve

        Thank you! I had this question and you’ve answered it for me — I lower sugar (almost always) and had planned to deduce the oil as well.

  50. Bonny

    Yumm. I made this sort of today. At least it inspired my efforts. I used half grated apples and half carrots. Didn’t have pineapple, but in looking thru the cupboards for it I found 8 cans of way out of date food to toss. Do ya think 2012 would be too old? But I added in 1/2 cup yellow raisins and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts.
    And oh yes I doubled it to make a 9×13” .

  51. Hi Deb

    Any suggestions for flours to use that are gluten free? I have the king Arthur 1:1 but is there a mixture or another one that might be a better like buckwheat, spelt or almond flour? I SO love morning glory muffins but sadly have to avoid gluten right now.

    Thanks so much—longtime follower and have made so many of your recipes over the past 10 years from your blog. they’re always fantastic.

    1. deb

      Nobody has reported back yet with how it went for them but my hunch is that whatever your go-to 1:1 flour is will work; this cake seems forgiving and flexible.

      1. Ana

        To Deb (& whoever’s tried the recipe) – what’s the crumb like? Is it firm, is it moist, etc? I want to try making a GF version but I usually use almond/starch-based blends instead of 1:1 mixes.

  52. Joy

    Somehow, yet again, you have responded to the collective consciousness by producing EXACTLY the recipe I was longing for, EXACTLY when I wanted it. This leaves me feeling somewhere between creeped out and delightedly connected. Like you and other commenters here, I’ve been craving morning glory muffins for a while but in a less traditional form. A Bon Appetit recipe for breakfast cookies came across my inbox again and I almost made it. Yet I find making muffins and cookies somewhat annoying – too much fuss to scoop, separate, portion, and (let’s face it) clean up the kitchen gear. One bowl, one pan, and a box grater? Now that’s more like it. I lacked pineapple and was going to sub a pear but ended up finding the pear still sitting on the block when the pan went in the oven. Oh well. The result is perfect and not too crumbly! Thanks for rescuing me from my cravings with a yummy new breakfast treat.

  53. If anyone’s curious about a vegan version, I made these with flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax + 6 tablespoons water) and another time with aquafaba (6 tablespoons) and both worked great.

  54. Deb,
    I love your recipes, yiur cookbooks, your blog, and hearing about your children. I don’t Love that you link your books read to Amazon. Don’t you have a local bookstore who would fill any order your readers might want to make? Being an independent bookstore owner in Arizona, juggling to stay afloat, it is so important that people shop locally and stop sending their book business to Amazon. I would think after your book tours that you would be sympathetic and understand the need to support our stores.

    1. deb

      Hi Gayle — I totally understand where you’re coming from. I, too, try not to buy too much from Amazon, and especially books. I struggle with finding a one-stop alternative for a single book link. How do you feel about Bookshop.org? I heard mixed things from other independent store owners. What I hope/suspect is that many people turn to Amazon for quick previews and reviews, and then they shop at the stores they’d rather see in their neighborhoods.

  55. Amy

    This was a great easy cake for fall! I omitted the coconut, as my family doesn’t like it. I didn’t have any cardamom so I used a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. I made a simple cream cheese frosting instead of using the pepitas. It went together so easily. No mixer required. The flavors were so bright and perfect for this cold, rainy weather we are having in the Midwest. Thanks Deb!

  56. Natasha

    I made these as per recipe, only reducing the sugar to 1/2 cup. I used about 75% ww flour and 25% ap flour – It is soo delicious! Will definitely make this a regular thing!

  57. Randi

    I really want to make this tomorrow, but I don’t have access to, or even like, pineapple. Any substitution suggestion or if I omit it, will that mess up the moisture level? Thanks!

      1. Randi

        Thank you. So sorry, Deb, didn’t read the comments before I commented! I just cut the pineapple. I didn’t have nuts, but I use some sesame seeds on top and change the raisins to dried cherries. So delicious! I would cut the sugar to 1/3 cup next time, but was quick easy and delicious, totally a keeper.

  58. Rachel

    I baked this recipe in my small cast iron pan because that’s the way I roll these days (approximately a 1/2 recipe in my 8″/20.3 cm pan…other 1/2 of the batter is in the freezer for another day). It baked in about 17 minutes and came out beautifully: really nicely balanced spices, just the right hint of sweetness for breakfast. I didn’t have pineapple, so I mashed up bananas and subbed those in. Just lovely. Deb knocks it out of the park once again!

  59. Cameron

    Did you half and half the flour here? I see both flours in the picture but then it just says regular or WW in the recipe. Apologize if someone already asked, I searched through but might have missed it!

  60. Jenn

    I made this today. Wow! It is really delicious. I used the pecans instead of the coconut, but I would try the coconut next time. Arbiter of all baked goods (husband) loves it. I wonder if I could drop the sugar even a smidge more? Wouldn’t go below 1/2 cup, but maybe somewhere between 2/3rds and 1/2? Also, someone said they made this in a cast iron pan. I like that idea and will try it next time. Might get a nice crunchy outside. Thank you!

  61. Caitlin

    Yeeeesssssssss! This is exactly what I needed. My muffin pan got left out in the garden, and I’ve been thinking about adapting some of your muffin recipes to fit in a pan, and here you have done it for me! Thanks! (got any bran snack cakes working back there?)

  62. Deb, I made this and it’s great (I made them vegan with ground flaxseed for egg and subbed Asian Pear for pineapple, fyi) — I just have a question about the method: I think often muffin recipes whisk the spices & baking powder in with the flour and in this recipe you sprinkle them on the liquid mixture. I’m curious about the difference. Thanks!

    1. deb

      That’s the classic or “correct” method. But I have found in my kitchen that as long as the dry ingredients are incorporated very, very well into the wet (i.e. thoroughly well-distributed), it makes little difference and certainly not enough of one that I would dirty an extra bowl. My goal is to make recipes work for real home cooks with busy lives.

  63. Chris

    Perfect recipe. Toasted pepitas are essential, and I do not regret over-salting them. Also: I strained the shredded apples (+pineapple) and the moisture reduction worked for me.

  64. Bill Hoffman

    Absolutely delicious! I used KA White Wheat flour and regular sugar. Used 3/4 tsp fine sea salt and reduce it to 1/2 or use kosher next time. And there will be a next time.

  65. Amanda

    Made this this morning before getting to work and it was a lovely midday snack. I only had minimal amounts of carrot, apple and pineapple on hand and it still turned out beautifully. 30 minutes on the dot in my oven. The spices are perfect, the crumb is perfect. Used pecans on top instead of pepitas. Also did a half AP/half whole wheat flour mix but thinking I’d do all whole wheat next time and it would only make it even better.

  66. I REALLY hate this new “Easy Recipe” site that I have to go to to print recipes. I go to your recipe, then click on Print Recipe and it takes me to this other site where I can never find the recipe that I just clicked on.
    Please go back to printing from your site. I know, I know, everyone is using this method, but it’s cumbersome!!!

  67. Jennifer Small

    Long time rieader, first time poster. This was deeeelicious and made everyone—kids, neighbors, me—happy. It was great for breakfast and mid-morning school snack.

  68. Teressimo

    Love this! Reduced sugar and oil to 1/2 cup each, and forgot the salt. Still delicious, although next time I’ll add the salt. Great for breakfast, or a mid-afternoon snack with tea!

  69. jeanna p.

    Non-baker here, rating this recipe at an A+! I omitted the dried fruit, subbed chopped pecans and walnuts for coconut, and subbed in chopped apple for the chopped pineapple. Even with all of these substitutions, it was perfect. Bake time was more like 40 min. Still moist and fluffy!

  70. Lisa

    This was absolutely delicious. It’s exactly what I wanted in the mornings as we transition to colder NYC weather. My three-year old loved it too.

  71. Anita

    Have been buying morning glory muffins at my Sunday farmer’s market so this was a perfect inspiration. On the plus side, I like the flexibility of the recipe — I had no lemon and subbed a combo of light buckwheat/oat/AP and it tasted great. I used 100 g of Demerara sugar and it was right sweetness. In terms of improvement, this wasn’t my fave recipe writing: 1. I have cardamom pods only; ground is not a basic ingredient and I messed up my coffee grinder trying to grind them. 2. It was not clear what to do with the apples which get super wet when grated. Because the pineapple was suppose to be well-drained, I squeezed the grated apple which then meant I had to use 2 instead of 1 to get the correct weight. 3. Whisking the eggs in a separate dish just works better. 4. Why an extra step to toast the pepitas? Can sprinkle raw on top and off you go. 5. It took 15 mins longer to bake than recommended.

  72. Linda Kirschbaum

    No more kids in the house but it will make an awesome afternoon snack with my tea! Subbed dried apricots for pineapple and threw a few sunflower seeds on top!

  73. Maclean Nash

    This breakfast cake is delicious!

    I used coconut sugar as that’s all I had and it worked great!
    For those asking, you certainly don’t need to soak raisins beforehand, the batter is wet enough and does the trick!

    Thank you for another tasty, crowd pleasing recipe!.

  74. Hiro

    I made it as written and it tastes so good! But my cake sunk a bit in the middle. The cake was very slightly underbaked – could that be the reason?

  75. K

    Excellent flavour and process. Gotta love a one-bowl!

    I found this took quite a bit longer than 35 minutes and even when a toothpick came out clean I still wish I had baked it longer. I did make some substitutions (grated zucchini and mashed banana instead of pineapple) which might have affected this.

  76. Lisa

    I made these today with my 2YO today and they were a big hit! We used cranberries for the dried fruit, 75% whole wheat, and 50% olive oil (ran out of vegetable oil) and they turned out great! Thank you!

  77. Pip

    This looks delicious. I’m guessing “morning glory” doesn’t have the same slang meaning in the US as in the UK though? 😁

  78. Kris Campsand

    I made this in a huge pan for a clinic (3.5x) and it performed beautifully. Substituted a bag of frozen shredded zucchini from this summer’s garden baseball bats for the apples; sunflower seeds for pepitas; and white whole wheat for regular whole wheat. The whole pan won’t be making it to the clinic….we are enjoying it too much here at home!

  79. Chrissy

    I’ve been making recipes from this site for years, so I expect that the things I make from here to be good because they usually are. I did not expect this cake to be THIS good. Make it now.

  80. K

    I was overly confident with substituting mashed banana and grated zucchini for the pineapple. Although many folks are praising the flexibility of this recipe do remember that it’s still baking! Alas, I forgot and got carried away.

    The ratio of wet to dry ingredients does really matter and may leave you with an underdone cake.

    And to reiterate – the flavour is still fantastic! Eating this morning with coffee.

  81. Deborah N Flanagan

    I made Morning Glory Breakfast Cake this morning. I used all whole wheat flour and since I had no pineapple, I substituted pomegranate seeds. Absolutely delish! This will be in heavy rotation. Thanks Deb.

  82. GlORIA YOUNG

    I think I detected a Happy Smiley face on. the Morning GLORY BREAKFAST CAKE. Impressive photography, you make the food come alive.

    Also, you helped me solve my tomorrow. What else, bake the beautiful cake and eat it.

    Thanks love most of your recipes and your books.

  83. sumo

    brilliant: one of our fave muffins with no muffin fussing! thank you!!!

    i baked a double, for family and the landscaping crew working diligently in our yard. it was a huge hit with everyone, and will henceforth be a regular chez nous. i threw in some sunflower seeds because i had some to finish, and they’re good.

  84. Nadia

    Just made this this afternoon, it was delicious! I love the natural sweetness from the apple and pineapple. Can’t wait to have it for breakfast tomorrow morning!

  85. Yesterday, doing as usual my blog round, saw this post – and immediately went to the fridge, to check what I have for this morning cake.
    Ended up substituting 3/4 of the ingredients (but staying true to proportion and general technological principle). Used 1 zucchini, 3 pitted dates, 3 california dried apricots, handful of crashed pecans, fistful of dried cranberries, grated 1.5″ fresh ginger no baked powder, no coconut, no pineapple, no sugar, no seeds – and decreased wheat flour with addition of 1/4c of oats and 1/4c of almond flour.
    It came out delicious!
    Thank you, Deb!

  86. Amy

    This recipe is terrific and everything it promises to be! I used all whole wheat flour, unsalted pepitas, and the optional raisins. The texture was plush and not dense; which I worried about. The flavors were best the morning after baking the afternoon prior. Absolute winner and perfectly balanced. Definitely nutritious enough for breakfast and cake enough for a treat! Delivering this to a busy and new mom of two. Another triumph :)

  87. Athalie White

    If you left out the coconut, should you sub in another item for texture, or can it be simply omitted and still have a successful outcome? Thx for any insights!

  88. Christina Vogel

    I love those muffins, and I was so excited to see this recipe. Finally made it this morning, and it is really lovely. Thank you!

  89. Lorie

    Wanting a distraction today (voting day), I made this snack cake. It is amazingly moist and flavorful. Made only a couple of substitutions (cranberries instead of raisins and walnuts instead of coconut and pepitas) because of what I had on hand, but mostly followed the recipe as written. So, so good! Make it today! Really!!

  90. I’m engaged in a sort of arms race with my oldest son. I get up early, and he gets up a little earlier the next week. Then I set my clock earlier the week after. Then he one-ups me and gets up earlier the next. Next year I might be skipping sleeping altogether.

  91. Roberta

    I’ve made this twice now. The first time I followed the recipe and loved it the second time, i didn’t have pineapple so i added prunes as both the pineapple and dried fruit substitute. Also added a Tbsp of orange zest. Lowered the sugar and oil. Great cake either way! Thanks Deb

  92. JWinAK

    I made this with a few tweaks – replaced the pineapple with pumpkin and topped it with pecans instead of pepitas. It is delicious!

  93. JWinAK

    I made this with a few tweaks – replaced the pineapple with pumpkin, use nutmeg instead of cardamom, and topped it with pecans instead of pepitas. It is delicious!

  94. Tania

    Instead of fresh ginger to replace the ground I decided to go with a mix of cloves and nutmeg, and I am happy to report it came out great! Definitely flexible and a keeper. Thanks for the great post-election baking distraction.

  95. Megan

    I made this yesterday and it is delish—everything I’m looking for in a breakfast/snack thing. I didn’t have any eggs to spare unfortunately so I used two flax eggs (2tbsp flax meal, 6tbsp water, and 1/4 more baking powder to offset any potential gumminess I often find with vegan baked goods). I love the flexibility of the toppings and mix-ins. The whole wheat flour and shredded coconut create a fantastic flavor and texture!

  96. Lisa

    Wanted to share my variations that worked. I didn’t have an apple so used a single serving of applesauce instead. Used all white whole wheat flour. Halved the recipe and made into 9 muffins, baked a little over 20 min.

    Turned out great, I loved the combo of the lemon and cinnamon, and they were super moist. I think the applesauce made it a touch too sweet so if I used that again I would reduce the sugar but overall very easy and great for breakfast!

  97. Emily

    Tasty! And we ate it for breakfast as instructed : )
    Didn’t have enough flour in the house so I blended some oats and made it with half whole wheat flour and half oat flour (is that a thing?). Turned out fine!

  98. Maya Lo Bello

    I liked this recipe and especially the addition of cardamom. I still found that there was too much oil in it, so I would reduce the oil even more if using all-purpose flour.

  99. Anne

    I loved your story! Growing up this was me, except my mom would leave store-bought donuts and cartoons or legos to keep me busy while everyone slept.

    Thank you for the morning glory recipe. I’ve been waiting for one from you for years and this hit the spot!

    For those wondering about GF – I made this with a mix of almond flour/coconut flour/arowroot starch and it was a bit crumbly but delicious! Next time will make it with sprouted WW

  100. Laura

    I subbed 1/3 c. unsweetened apple sauce for 1/3 c. oil, and didn’t have pepitas so used chopped up salted pistachios. This turned out so tasty! My kids and husband all want it to have a brown sugar crust on top, and I think stirring the pistachios (or perhaps salted sunflower seeds or some other salty nut) into the cake would be even better. It did end up needing a much longer cook time than called for (close to 20 more minutes), but I’ll definitely be making this again! With twelve slices, it worked out to about 183 calories per slice.

  101. Astrid Jennewein

    This is a brilliant cake. I have made it a couple of times now (and also bought the book). Like you said Deb, there is a lot of flexibility. I wanted a serious breakfast cake, i.e. not too sweet and a little wholesome. Made it with wholemeal flour, reduced sugar to 90g (still plenty sweet), reduced oil to 100ml and added 100g apple sauce. Came out brilliantly – can’t believe how soft and fluffy this cake is – and it stays that way for a good three days. Freezes well. A winner.

  102. Caterina

    I just moved into a new house and this was my very first bake in my new oven. It was a good choice. This is the best carrot cake I have ever tried – soft, fluffy (even made with half whole-wheat) and so flexible (I did not have any coconut and I used olive oil). I will be making this again very soon.

  103. Mirela

    After grating the apple and carrots, I squeezed a lot of the juice out because I thought the cake would be too soggy, and I strained the crushed pineapple. Cake came out really great, but it still needed an extra 10 or 12 minutes until done. Do you squeeze the grated apple and carrot or keep all the juice in?

  104. kai

    I made these and they were delicious. However they were so crumbly that I had to almost eat it with a spoon. I made it with 100% whole wheat flour. Any suggestions on how to keep it together a little more?

    1. Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt

      I made this cake and it came out almost liquid. I plan to implement the suggestions of (unfortunately I am unable to access her name) who suggested reducing the oil to 100 ML (just under half a cup) and add 100 ml of unsweetened applesauce. I’m also going to wring out the grated apple and dry it assiduously, as I am also going to do with the pineapple. The flavor and texture of this cake are just unmatched, and I plan to bake this again and again until I get it RIGHT.

  105. Caroline Taylor

    Hi Deb- I have this in the oven now and can’t wait.
    Do you think it would over do it (or just taste off) to add some cream cheese frosting? I have carrot cake vibes, but don’t know if it would be too “healthy” for frosting to work.

    1. Caroline Taylor

      Couldn’t wait and went for it on the cream cheese frosting (your recipe from Smitten Kitchen Everyday). It did not disappoint.

  106. This is at least the third recipe I’ve seen posted from this book and now I must add it to my collection as well.
    For a while in college I was making baked oatmeal muffins to keep in the freezer as easy food before heading to a day of double majoring but found the liners such a pain to deal with that I switched to baking them in a pan instead. Such an easy swap for an easier morning!

  107. Pam Terenzi

    Every baker needs a signature snacking cake and Morning Glory Breakfast Cake is now mine. Made as directed with exception of subbing chopped pecans for the pepitas and it was perfect.

  108. Susan Friendson

    I made this cake, and it seemed more like a British steamed pudding than a cake. (Think Boston brown bread?) Even as I was adding the 2/3 cup of oil it seemed like too much. Generally your baking recipes are perfect Deb, so I thought maybe it was a typo. Did anyone else think this? I used sunflower oil, and I reduced the sugar slightly, but that shouldn’t have made a difference…I don’t think.

  109. Christina

    This reminds me of the pumpkin breakfast cake I used to grab on my walk to walk down the Upper East Side from Two Little Red Hens bakery back before they streamlined their production and stopped making such deliciousness. We are going to be experimenting nostalgically with this!

  110. Julie

    This is amazing; made it as written yesterday. My picky kids (one who was an early riser until middle school – there is hope!) like it too. Thanks Deb!

  111. MizMarbles

    Yum! I made this with AP flour and a bit of flax meal, a dash closer to 3/4C sugar, PARSNIPS for carrot (what I had), and more apple instead of pineapple (what I didn’t have), a pinch of garam masala (in place of cardamom) and slivered almonds on top. It is moist and light, a quick and great afternoon snack.

  112. This is moist and oh-so-delicious! The only change I made was to swap out 1/2 the oil for a mix of applesauce and pumpkin puree. Delicious and healthy. Like others already mentioned, I really couldn’t tell that this was all whole wheat. My second batch is in the oven right now. Yum!

  113. Waking up at 5 am to read sounds quite peaceful! I’ve never quite managed it though… Really inspired by this recipe. I’m always struggling for breakfast ideas and combining cake with breakfast seems like a dream team! Definitely going to try this!

  114. Did you ever make a vegan version of this? I imagine substituting the eggs with a banana and a flex egg might do just fine. Will try this at the weekend anyway, looks delish!

  115. I have a long love affair with Morning Glory muffins. I used to make them with my mom as a kid, and I would get one every time I found them at a local bakery. Thank you for this recipe, I look forward to making this with my kids!

  116. Paula

    Hi Deb,
    I really enjoy your recipes and the pictures are so helpful. I have a question regarding shredding versus grating. The picture has you shredding the carrot and apple, but the directions say grating. I always thought the two were different. Are they? Thank you

  117. Amanda

    So, I’ve been waiting to make this (for some unknown reason) but I finally did and I just want to say:
    THANK YOU SO MUCH DEB THIS IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED!

    Healthy-ish, but still snacky, and bonus it uses what I will surely have a glut of come winter, apples and carrots (since they seem to be a winter CSA staple).

    I did sub apple sauce for the crushed pineapple. It baked beautifully in 35 minutes, not crumbly at all and perfectly moist.

    I think the next time I may add some oats or oat flour just to give it a tiny bit more heft (and then I can rationalize it as a true breakfast item).

  118. Lauren Gloger

    I made this! It was very tasty but I found it to be too heavy w oil. I would definitely reduce the amount next time- it was just too oily

  119. Julia

    I replaced the flour with oat flour in this recipe and it worked well. I reduced the sugar to 1/3C and it still was very nice. I found 2/3C oil to be too much, though, and would suggest cutting back on that!

  120. Fantastic! I am occasional cook. Sometimes I make food at home when I get time out of my work.

    Loving your recipes. Crisp and to the point explaining very nicely. Hope to make a cake on this Christmas!
    Stay blessed and will be coming back for more interesting recipes. Thanks.

  121. It’s a great idea to use less sugar. I also normally put less sugar in all the cookies and pies, especially if I plan to eat them in the morning. And if I crave something sweeter, I can alway top them with more sugary jam.

  122. Hello Deb,
    Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe! The only thing I changed was that I used butter instead of oil as I find it always makes a lighter cake. This will be a favourite go-to recipe in my household from now on.
    Warm regards,
    Jo