Burnt-Sugar Cake

Don't be put off the name: The burnt sugar in this cake makes it extra-delicious. Frost with seven-minute frosting and serve this yummy retro cake.

Burnt-Sugar Cake
Photo: Blaine Moats
Prep Time:
45 mins
Cook Time:
35 mins
Bake Time:
20 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins


  • 1 recipe Burnt-Sugar Syrup

  • ½ cup shortening

  • 2 ½ cup cake flour

  • 1 ½ cup sugar

  • 3 ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

  • 1 recipe Burnt-Sugar Frosting

  • 1 recipe Date Filling

Date Filling

  • 1 ½ cup pitted dates, cut up

  • 1 cup water

  • cup sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup Burnt-Sugar Frosting (not syrup)

  • ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts

Burnt-Sugar Syrup

  • cup sugar

  • cup boiling water

Burnt-Sugar Frosting

  • 1 ¾ cup sugar

  • 3 egg whites

  • cup cold water

  • 3 tablespoon Burnt-Sugar Syrup

  • teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Prepare Burnt-Sugar Syrup. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

  2. In a large bowl beat shortening with a mixer on medium 30 seconds. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat to combine. Add 2/3 cup of the water and beat until moistened; then beat on medium to high 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/3 cup water, the eggs, 3 Tbsp. of the Burnt-Sugar Syrup, and the vanilla; beat 2 minutes more. Spread batter into the prepared pans.

  3. Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans 10 minutes. Remove layers from pans; cool on wire racks. Prepare Burnt-Sugar Frosting; set aside 1/4 cup frosting for Date Filling. Prepare Date Filling. Spread filling between layers; frost cake with remaining Burnt-Sugar Frosting. Press walnuts onto side of cake.

Date Filling

  1. In a medium saucepan combine dates, water, sugar, and salt; bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Prepare Burnt-Sugar Frosting. Fold 1/4 cup Burnt-Sugar Frosting and walnuts into the date mixture. Spread between thoroughly cooled cake layers.

Burnt-Sugar Syrup

  1. In a large skillet heat the sugar over medium heat until sugar starts to melt, shaking skillet occasionally (do not stir). When sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and cook until all of the sugar is melted and turned to a very dark amber color, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; carefully add the boiling water (mixture will bubble). Heat and stir until all the sugar dissolves. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 7 minutes. Let cool.

Burnt-Sugar Frosting

  1. In a 3-quart top of a double boiler combine sugar, egg whites, water, Burnt-Sugar Syrup, and salt. Beat with a mixer on low 30 seconds. Place the pan over boiling water (upper pan should not touch the water). Cook, beating constantly on low, 7 to 10 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F when inserted in mixture, stopping beaters and quickly scraping bottom and side of pan every 3 minutes to prevent sticking. Remove pan from the heat. Beat on high about 4 minutes or until frosting is fluffy and holds soft peaks. Add vanilla and beat until spreading consistency, about 3 minutes. Set aside 1/4 cup of the frosting for Date Filling.


*If you have a sweet tooth, use 3 Tbsp. Burnt-Sugar Syrup in the frosting; if you like a "touch of bitter" with the sweet, increase to 4 Tbsp.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

617 Calories
18g Fat
113g Carbs
7g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 617
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 341mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 113g 41%
Total Sugars 86g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0.2mg 1%
Calcium 111mg 9%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 258mg 5%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 73.5mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.1mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.1mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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