My mother and my long-time next door neighbor’s mother, Miss Martha Anne, had the same MO (Method of Operation) one early summer morning in the late 1950s. Maybe it was because these two women ended up living next door to each other for 50-something years. They were in sync this morning both creating Burned Caramel Cakes.
My friend, Jane, three years older, is my surrogate big sister. That morning when I was around six, we both awoke to the smell of cakes in the oven, checked out our own kitchens, found out this morning they were both baking the same flavor of cake, and connected before the second round of cake batter was placed in pans and then in Miss Martha Anne’s oven. You know what we wanted: to lick the batter off the spatulas and beaters this time around.
This was a ritual for both of us while the women were baking, so there we stood, still in our pajamas, near the mixer staring like puppies waiting for someone to drop a morsel from the dinner table. When the mixing ended, we saw Jane’s mother scrape just about every bit of batter into her pans and then slid them into the oven. What was left to lick? Not much.
Barefooted, we ran across both yards to see if we were going to have better luck at my house. And sure enough, we always did. There stood my mother in her cream colored cotton apron with red piping. It was cross-stitched with chickens pecking corn, a red barn, and ducks waddling. Tied at the waist, it held deep pockets. She not only let us share the spatula, but also gave each of us a beater, (which we licked clean), and a spoon to gobble up the remaining cake batter in the bowl.
But it’s all about the icing, too, right? And we were able to get a taste of it also.
I miss my mother.
Looking for a holiday cake to serve your guests?
Here is her Burned Caramel Cake Recipe:
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup milk
2 cups sugar 2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups flour 2 tsp. Vanilla
4 eggs ¼ tsp. salt
Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each. Sift flour and baking powder and salt together three times. Add alternately with milk to creamed mixture. Bake in greased and floured pans at 350 about 30 – 35 minutes. Cool before frosting.
Frosting: Burn ½ cup sugar in iron skillet. Add ½ cup boiling water to make syrup.
Add 4 cups sugar, 2 sticks margarine, and 1 cup milk.
Cook until soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Add 1 tsp. vanilla.
Set pan in cold water and beat until thick enough to spread.
Don’t forget to set aside a bit from the bowl, spatulas, or beaters for the little ones.