With thanks to Maurine Shores — and the Cake Lady, wherever she is!
For the Hot Milk Cake:
1 cup milk
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sifted, all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs at room temperature, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans (or line cupcake pans with paper liners). In a small saucepan over low heat, bring milk and butter to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well by hand. Pour the eggs over and mix thoroughly. Quickly pour the hot milk-butter over the egg mixture and mix well by hand, moving quickly so the eggs don’t curdle. Add the vanilla and mix well.
Divide between the two prepared pans (or 24-36 cupcake tins) and bake for 25-30 minutes for cake layers, 18-22 minutes for cupcakes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing from pans and cooling thoroughly before frosting.
For the Caramel Icing:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Maldon salt flakes or fleur de sel
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the brown sugar and boil over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Take off the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Cool to lukewarm, about 20 minutes.
Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until smooth and thick enough to spread. You may not need all 4 cups of sugar. Add a little hot water if it becomes too thick. Ice the cake while the frosting is warm, and sprinkle the top with Maldon salt flakes or fleur de sel.