Cake: classic of the '50s



January 28, 2004|By Ellen Hawks | Ellen Hawks,SUN STAFF

Michele Wray of Ellicott City wrote a brief note. "My mother-in-law is searching for the recipe that she used about 30 years ago in central Pennsylvania. It is for a burnt-sugar cake which has caramelized sugar mixed through the batter. The result is a caramel flavor. You can use any icing you want to."

Jackie Lee Eng of Cooksville responded. "When I read the request, it sounded familiar. So I went to my grandmother's recipe box and indeed there it was in Grandma Leeper's handwriting. I do not know the origin of the recipe, but Grandma was born in Missouri in 1904 and moved to Washington state during the Great Depression of the 1920s. Thanks for rekindling the sweet memory."

Burnt-Sugar Cake

Serves 12 to 16

1/2 cup shortening, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup milk or water

3 tablespoons burnt sugar (see below)

2 egg whites beaten stiff


1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

Cream shortening and sugar. Add yolks and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to shortening mixture.

To make burnt sugar, melt 1/2 cup white sugar in heavy skillet over low heat until dark and smooth, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup boiling water. Return to heat and stir rapidly until molasseslike syrup melts.

Add 3 tablespoons of cooled burnt-sugar mixture to batter. Fold in egg whites.

Pour batter into two buttered and floured round layer-cake pans. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Cool on wire racks, turn out of pans and frost when cooled.

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "This is a classic cake of the 1950s, usually frosted with a burnt-sugar icing [made with the remaining burnt sugar and confectioners' sugar, an egg white and a little bit of vanilla extract].

"Icing recipes like this can be found in Joy of Cooking. Be careful when adding the water to the darkly caramelized sugar - it can `spit' hot sugar water and burn your arm.

"The cakes here are a subtle, light spongecake with a faint caramel flavor to them."

Recipe requests

Sandy Clark of Columbia is seeking a fudge recipe. "It was called Velveeta Fudge and I bought it at a church Christmas bazaar. It was light-colored, a golden yellow fudge made with Velveeta cheese as an ingredient. It was wonderful and I cannot find the recipe."

Pat Stayer of Canton, Ohio, is seeking a recipe for Chicken Rosemary. Stayer says: "I had [it] at a restaurant in Chicago. It was the best I've ever had and I can't seem to re-create it."

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. If you send more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Names must accompany recipes in order for them to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letters may be edited for clarity.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.