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Revelatory Caramel Cake to Celebrate Martin Luther King’s Birthday


Coco added MLK on top

Today is Martin Luther King Day so we listened the MLK’s “I have a dream” speech on NPR. It always amazes me how far we have come in this nation when it comes to race relations…not that it is perfect by any means. It also always amazes me how you can have three kids and they can be so totally different. My kids are half black and half white. We do not live in a very diverse area. Approximate 1.3 % of our school district’s students identify as African American. As their very pasty white mother, I have tried to expose them to African American history, culture, food, etc. I think I’m way more concerned about their African American heritage than their Dad, the Lieutenant. My 17 year old thinks I try to hard.  She feels race should not matter and as MLK said, everyone should “not be judged  by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. At this point in her life she is very comfortable in her own skin, but has never been surrounded by much diversity. I think she is just a little bit naive. College is going to be good for her. My 13 year old likes being mixed race, but is assumed to be hispanic most of the time. In sixth grade, the Mexican American boys in class asked him to join their Mexican club.  He is going to play MLK, Jr. in our church play in a couple of months. Of course, their wasn’t much competition for the part…….Then, there’s Coco, my 6 year old. She considers herself black. A couple of  years ago she told me I wasn’t her real mother – her real mother was black and I was just her step mother.  I had to talk to her dad about that one. She loves all things African. I predict now that she will start the first African American student union at our local high school….She may be the only member.

Anyways, Coco was adamant that we needed a cake to celebrate MLK day. I thought a southern cake was called for so I pulled out my Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook and found the perfect celebration cake – Revelatory Caramel Cake. Mr. D made it with a little help from Coco and it was d-liiiiiiiiiish-us!


Revelatory Caramel Cake

cake by Demetrie McLorn adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.


  • ***********white cake layers*********
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temp.
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 2 1/4 t. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted (I used reg. flour & of course I do not sift)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 pound plus 4 T. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 T. pieces, at room temp.
  • ***********caramel icing****************
  • 2 1/2 cups/ 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 T. light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 T.(1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 t. vanilla

Cooking Directions:

  1. Grease and flour (3) 8 inch or (2) 9 inch cake pans. Set aside.
  2. Stir together the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and pour in the remaining 3/4 cup of milk. Use an electric mixer at low speed to mix the batter until moistened. Increase to medium and beat for 90 seconds. Scrape down the sides, keep beating on medium speed and slowly add the egg mixture in 3 additions.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Bake 9 inch pans a little longer. Cool before icing.
  5. Make the icing by stirring together the 2 1/2 cups sugar, corn syrup and milk in a small saucepan and cooking over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Keep warm over low heat.
  6. In a deep, heavy saucepan sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar on the bottom. Cook over medium heat without stirring until the sugar dissolves and turns the color of amber. Carefully pour the warm milk mixture into the caramel; the mixture will bubble vigorously and hiss, and the caramel will harden. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the caramel loosens from the bottom and dissolves into a bubbly liquid. Cook without stirring until the mixture reaches soft-ball stage (235 degrees F) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon or electric mixer set to medium speed until the icing is no longer shiny and is thick and creamy enough to spread. Then you need to spread on the cake fast before it hardens too much!
  7. Place a cake layer on a plate. Pour enough icing over the layer to cover the top. Add the next layer and repeat. Add the top layer and slowly pour the rest of the icing over the top, letting it run down the sides. If the icing is not too hard you can try to spread the icing evenly around the sides of the cake (it was too hard for Mr. D. to do this). Let the cake rest at room temp at least 2 hours or until the icing is set before serving.








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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Rita B January 19, 2012, 2:32 pm

    I hope to be able to try to back this cake sometime in the near future. It looks lovely and anything with the word caramel in it is a sweet I love. I do love your story you shared. It’s very sweet and I love to be able to hear what your family experiences. You are an amazing mom and your kiddos are lucky!!

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