Faulknerian Family Spice Cake, with Caramel Icing


Being from the South, I come from a rather, ah. . . kooky family in which relationships are tangled but the food is straightforward and good. This is my mother's spice cake, but I got the recipe from my sister. I won't go into the whole story of why I didn't just ask my mother for it because it would take a million years and you'd be bored to death. I fashioned a pumpkin version of sorts for the food section at the Chicago Tribune when I worked there, but Mother's original is superior: murky and dark and complex underneath, but with a crazy sweet caramel icing on top. Just like the South. And just like the South, you'll keep going back to it even past the point when it seems to be verging on an unhealthy addiction. It's that good. - ENunn

What you will need

1/2 pound butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening (yes, shortening)

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon mace (don't leave this out)

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup plus 2 tbsp milk

1 teaspoon vanilla


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