This cake holds fond memories since the first time I tasted it was when my grandmother baked it for me, placed it on a lovely plate, carefully wrapped it in what seemed like a mile of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and express mailed it from one side of the country to the other. She had moved to California to live with my uncle, but she knew that I missed her cooking and baking.
The cake was a complete surprise. She called and told me that she had mailed me something, but never did I expect to unwrap a box from California that had such a delicious Southern style cake in it. Not only had she sent the cake, but she included the recipe cut out of a magazine and a hand written recipe card with her modifications. She wrote, “This cake really needs the glaze to make it tastier!” I agree and won’t make this cake unless I make the glaze to pour over the top. It makes a lot of glaze and can easily be halved.
I must say that it’s one of the best surprise packages that I ever received in the mail and if she was alive today, I would mail her a cake.
For years and years, I have moved from one house to the next with this recipe card in my recipe tin. I always intended to make the cake, but you see, I have so many of my family’s recipes that I make on the regular, that I just kept putting it aside.
Recently, my friend was moving and didn’t want to take her pantry items as part of the move. When she gifted me a large quantity of dark brown sugar, I knew exactly what to make because this cake requires a lot of brown sugar. I personally like to use light brown sugar for this cake, but when you receive free baking supplies you say thank you and run home quickly to get to baking.
My grandmother made a brown sugar glaze that she flavored with maple extract (use vanilla if you prefer, or even rum extract). This glaze is thick and almost turns into a candied fudge because you add powdered sugar. If you want a thinner glaze that still tastes great, try my caramel sauce, although you may want to double the recipe to have enough to sufficiently cover every surface of the cake, I like a lot of glaze on this cake since the flavor is subtle. Also, a delicious addition to this cake would be chopped pecans or toffee bits in the cake and sprinkled on top for decoration.
This cake is great on day one, but I really prefer it on day two. The extra day really allows the flavors to come through.
I hope that you’ll try this recipe today and comment below. Also, please follow @lifeabovethecafe on Instagram for daily updates!
For the Cake:
For the glaze:
Notes before beginning: Grease your large 12 cup bundt pan well with shortening or butter (seriously every nook and cranny) and then flour it well or save both steps by using Baker’s Joy spray. This will help to keep the cake from sticking. I also grease and flour the top of the open tube area and around the edges just in case the cake rises up too high. Stir up your flour well before measuring it out so you don’t over measure. Too much flour is what causes dry cakes. This cake may take less or more time than the hour and fifteen minutes that it took my hot gas oven to cook. Check the cake around the hour mark and every 10 minutes or so after.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and stir them together well to incorporate the baking powder and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed for several minutes until creamy. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix again thoroughly on medium speed. Turn down the speed and add the vanilla (or other extract flavor) and the eggs one at a time (I crack them into a bowl to avoid shells in my cake). Mix thoroughly between each egg before adding the next egg.
On a lower speed, to avoid a mess, add part of the flour and then part of the milk, ending with the flour. Don’t over mix the ingredients. Scrape the bowl down as needed and I recommend scraping the bottom to make sure that no butter or sugar remain unmixed with the other ingredients.
Pour the batter into your greased and floured bundt pan and smooth it out evenly with a spatula. Place the pan in your preheated oven and bake for 75-80 minutes. The cake is finished when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with no gooey batter. If the cake starts to brown too much on the top, tent a piece of aluminum foil over it. Allow the cake to rest in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting it onto a cake stand or cake carrier or large platter. Continue to allow it to cool for 15 – 20 minutes. Once it’s cooled make the glaze and immediately pour it over the cake.
For the glaze:
Use less powdered sugar for a thinner glaze, use the full 3 cups for a thicker candied glaze. This makes a lot of glaze, and is easily halved.
Sift your powdered sugar to remove any lumps so the glaze is smooth.
In a medium size nonstick pan, bring the butter, brown sugar, salt, and evaporated milk up to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Pour the glaze immediately over the cooled cake. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to dry.
I prefer to leave this cake covered, on the counter for two days. This is a rich cake so share it with others they will thank you for it. Also, the addition of chopped pecans and toffee bits makes it extra tasty like pralines.