Southern Caramel Cake

Made-from-scratch yellow cake with a stovetop caramel icing.


For the cake
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs room temperature
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the frosting
4 1/2 cups sugar divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 sticks margarine 1 cup
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the cake
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.
For the 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.


Notes from Lise Ode (Mom Loves Baking):
I made this cake and it’s delicious. I just wanted to add a few extra instructions here. And also let you know that the frosting needs to chill overnight in the refrigerator.
Making the icing:
The caramel icing is not easy to make. Put the stove on medium to medium high and add the sugar to a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly until it starts to change color. It will slowly get light brown, then caramel brown, then start to turn into a liquid. Keep stirring and once it’s a nice brown (but not too dark), you must act quickly so it doesn’t get too dark. Quickly add the boiling water and stir. Then you add the remaining 4 cups of sugar, 2 sticks margarine, and 1 cup milk. You stir constantly as it comes to a boil. Keep stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. It will be very thin at this point. Don’t keep cooking it, thinking it will get thicker because it won’t. Remove from heat, add vanilla (stir to combine) and let cool. Pour into a mixing bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. Next day, take it out and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and slightly thickened – about 10-20 minutes. Now it’s ready to go on the cake.
Making the cake:
I used 3 (8-inch round) cake pans, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, lined with parchment paper which I cut in circles to fit into the bottom of each pan and then sprayed them again. This way, they will NOT stick. Don’t skip this step.
When icing the cake:
Do not put too much icing in between layers. I put about 1/2 cup in between each layer. Then probably about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of icing for the top and sides. You don’t want too much or it will just drip down to the base of the cake and make a puddle. You will have left over frosting which is great to serve with the sliced cake on the side.