Serves 8

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup Caramel Syrup (recipe follows)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
Caramel Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375°. Line two 8-inch layer cake pans with greased wax paper. In large mixing bowl, beat butter and add 1 cup sugar gradually until light and fluffy. Beat in syrup.

In medium mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with milk.

In separate medium mixing bowl, beat eggs about 3 minutes, until foamy. Add remaining sugar, and beat until there is a fine spongy foam. Stir into cake batter until blended. Divide batter between cake pans. Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove pans from oven. Gently press center of cake with forefinger. Cake should spring back when finger is removed. If it doesn't, return to oven for 10 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and remove wax paper. Let cakes cool to room temperature before frosting.

To assemble: Center one cooled cake layer on cake plate. Cover top and sides with generous helping of frosting. Place second layer evenly on frosted layer. Repeat frosting procedure. Make certain that sides are completely frosted. Cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Caramel Syrup

1 cup white sugar
1 cup boiling water

Heat sugar in heavy skillet over low heat. Stir constantly until melted to a brown liquid. When it bubbles over entire surface, remove from heat. Slowly add boiling water, stirring constantly. Pour into container and cool.

Caramel Frosting

6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) butter
One 8-ounce package confectioner's sugar
4 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Brown butter in heavy pot over medium heat—be vigilant or it will burn. Allow butter to cool. In large mixing bowl, add confectioner's sugar, cream, vanilla extract and salt to butter, and beat until smooth. If frosting is too stiff, add a tablespoon of half-and-half or full cream to thin.

From the book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes by Maya Angelou. Copyright © 2004 by Maya Angelou. Reprinted by arrangement with Random House, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


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