Shabby Sixties Southern Cookin’

I dunno what got into me, but I decided to make a cake.

Normally, I do not DO cakes. Me baking a cake? No, not unless it’s in Bizarro world. But I’ve been teased by lots of media lately: superhero movies, a resurgence of The Help through a cook book I bought that has Book Club recipes, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and some vintage-interest blogs and Pinterest images.

I bought some of the ingredients; then a few days later I bought a few more. On the day I wanted to attempt it, I realized I didn’t have all 6 sticks of butter that I needed so I had to go back to the store. I knew I needed at least 5 hours of time to get through it comfortably.

Finally, on Mother’s Day, after everyone had gone home, I started on this monumental (for me) project. DH was thrilled. Yes, he grew up in The South in the 1950’s and 60’s and was familiar with caramel cake. His mother had baked caramel cakes. He could remember the icing on the second and third day when it hardened up and tasted just like candy. I, on the other hand, had only just heard of such a cake in the past year. The batter was made from self-rising flour and buttermilk, and lots of eggs. I’d made homemade cakes using that cake flour that comes in a box, but didn’t recall using plain old flour for a special cake. And to come up with the 8 cups of sugar the recipe called for, I emptied out 3 paper sugar bags way back in the inner sanctum of the cupboard. This is the first time in recent history I cooked icing on the stove. What seemed like hours later, with balls of sweat pouring off my forehead onto a paper towel on the front burner (turned off), the icing mixture reached the soft ball stage and I was ready to whip it in the stand mixer.

I don’t know how those women pulled it off in the 60’s, working in the kitchen with no AC, producing a gorgeous and delicious meal. I would have been fired; I would have been cleaning toilets and mopping floors at the prison back then rather than in the kitchen whipping up some Southern Belle’s Junior League luncheon extravaganza.

The sho-nuff shabby caramel cake

Well, here it is. Not purty, but if you like sugar a lot it will fit the bill. It’s shown here next to the roses from my darling Amy, and the carnation which was a sweet Mother’s Day gift from the young men at church.

I thought I might also sew something reminiscent of the good ol’ days in the kitchen, and I machine-embroidered a couple of tea towels. All I really had to do was add the text and colors with the software and change the thread. These are Embroidery Library designs and the white cotton/linen towels with hem-stitched borders are from

tea towel

BTW, if you’d like to see more ugly cakes, here’s a good site: Cake Wrecks


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ethel
    May 14, 2012 @ 21:18:51

    You are much more ambitious than I have ever been in the kitchen. Did I ever tell you that I have Never made a cake from scratch? I’ve made sweet breads in loaf tins which is sort of like cake but never a real cake. I guess part of the reason is that I don’t particularly like cake – to sweet for my tastes. Sweet breads and pie are my kind of sweets. Luckily my youngest – bless his heart – preferred pie to cake so he got birthday pies. Cute embroidered towel.


    • jenyjenny
      May 15, 2012 @ 08:50:16

      Thanks, Ethel. I don’t like all that extra sugar either but the crumb-y texture of the buttermilk cake was interesting. It was light in contrast to the frosting


  2. cubbyholes
    May 15, 2012 @ 01:55:54

    Cake is Cake. There is no such thing as a bad cake no matter what it looks like 🙂 Your flowers are pretty. My doggies sent me a Happy Mommy’s Day card. giggles.


  3. Karen Berthine
    May 22, 2012 @ 22:41:32

    Wow …. what an ordeal. (By the way, did any of the guests lapse into a sugar-induced coma after eating the cake?!)


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