Caramel-Filled Butter Pecan Cake

Originally published in the December 1988 issue of Southern Living, I have been making this cake for over 10 years (one a year) and have added some detail to the recipe. This is easier if you break the time into pieces and take your time in making it. It will always come out delicious, but often the aesthetics will be off. It’s hard to get this cake exactly right.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup, shortening
  • 2 cups, sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups of cake flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons, baking powder
  • 0.5 teaspoons, salt
  • 1 cup, whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon, almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon, vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • a few pecan halves

Caramel Filling

  • 3 cups, sugar
  • 0.75 cups, whole milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • 0.5 cup, butter

Buttercream Frosting

  • 0.33 cups, butter
  • 3 cups, powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons, whole milk
  • 0.5 teaspoons, vanilla extract

Equipment

  • 3 cake pans, 9″
  • 1 electric mixer
  • cooling racks
  • parchment paper
  • wooden toothpicks
  • large sauce pan
  • candy thermometer
  • cake stand
  • measuring cups
  • scissors
  • mixing bowl

Recipe

Baking Cake Layers

  1. Cream shortening in electric mixer, then gradually add 2 cups of sugar at medium speed.
  2. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Gradually mix in 3 cups of cake flour, 2.5 teaspoons of baking powder and 0.5 teaspoons of salt, adding 1 cup of milk as needed to keep it liquid.
  4. Add in almond and vanilla extracts.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Grease three 9″ cake pans with shortening (or butter, if you prefer) and line with parchment paper, grease wax paper and cut extra paper off with scissors.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick stick comes out clean after poking it into the center of the cake layers.
  9. Remove from oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove cake layers from cake pans and let cool on wire racks.

Caramel Filling

  1. Combine 3 cups of sugar, 0.75 cups of whole milk, a beaten egg, and 0.5 cup of butter in a large saucepan. (Optional: a few oz. of corn syrup can make it creamier with a smoother texture).
  2. Cook on medium-low heat (lower is better!) until the mixture reaches the temperature of 230 degrees, (roughly 20 minutes).
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Beat with a wooden spoon until spreading consistency.
  5. Put first layer of cake on a cake stand, spread caramel evenly on top of layer until it is a quarter inch thick. Add next layer and spread caramel two more times. If the caramel gets hard, bring back to the stove and heat to soften again.

Buttercream Filling

  1. Cream butter at maximum speed of the electric mixer.
  2. Gradually add in 3 cups of powdered sugar and 0.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  3. Add in milk until the consistency is right for frosting.
  4. Spread frosting around the outside of the layered cake.
  5. Press chopped pecans into frosting on sides.
  6. Garnish top of the cake with five pecan halves in the center and (optionally) a ring of them around the rim.

Waiting for the Last Dance

“…it is highly probable that we are in a major bubble event in the U.S. market, of the type we typically have every several decades and last had in the late 1990s. It will very probably end badly, although nothing is certain. I will also tell you my definition of success for a bear market call. It is simply that sooner or later there will come a time when an investor is pleased to have been out of the market. That is to say, he will have saved money by being out, and also have reduced risk or volatility on the round trip. This definition of success absolutely does not include precise timing. (Predicting when a bubble breaks is not about valuation. All prior bubble markets have been extremely overvalued, as is this one. Overvaluation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for their bursting.) Calling the week, month, or quarter of the top is all but impossible….

…Nothing in investing perfectly repeats. Certainly not investment bubbles. Each form of irrational exuberance is different; we are just looking for what you might call spiritual similarities. Even now, I know that this market can soar upwards for a few more weeks or even months – it feels like we could be anywhere between July 1999 and February 2000. Which is to say it is entitled to break any day, having checked all the boxes, but could keep roaring upwards for a few months longer. My best guess as to the longest this bubble might survive is the late spring or early summer, coinciding with the broad rollout of the COVID vaccine. At that moment, the most pressing issue facing the world economy will have been solved. Market participants will breathe a sigh of relief, look around, and immediately realize that the economy is still in poor shape, stimulus will shortly be cut back with the end of the COVID crisis, and valuations are absurd. “Buy the rumor, sell the news.” But remember that timing the bursting of bubbles has a long history of disappointment.”

-Jeremy Grantham, “Waiting for the Last Dance.” GMO.com. January 2021

I thought in March 2020 that COVID-19 was going to clobber markets, and I was dead wrong. Too early. But, at some point, markets have to reflect the economic reality, which should happen Real Soon Now.

Identifying a Stupid Person

“…a stupid person causes damage to others while deriving no gain, or even possibly incurring losses. We invariably underestimate the number of stupid individuals in circulation as the probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of other characteristics or credentials (e.g., they can have a Ph.D. or be President). We (the non-stupid) are vulnerable to the stupid and their actions as we find it difficult to imagine and understand — or to organize a rational defense against — an attack that lacks rational structure or predictable movements. Or, as Friedrich Schiller put it, against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain.”

-Scott Galloway, “Stupid.” ProfGalloway.com. January 8, 2021

Also, we are all, at one point or another, a stupid person. The trick is to reduce the duration and frequency. See also: Hoodoos, Sucking Black Holes, Psychic Vampires, The Unhappy & The Unlucky, Toxic People, Narcissist’s Prayer, etc.

The Market of Truth & Faction

“Fooling people only requires telling them what they want to hear, over and over again. People love to hear how right they are.”

—Stan Beeman, in The Americans.

The market for truth is a small one. On the scale of the universe, it is true that we are insignificant. On that level, we don’t factor into truth at all.

But, this is true of truth more generally. The truth is that on every level above the personal, the immediate environments of our day-to-day existence, our lives are of no consequence.

But, we want to believe we matter. We want to be powerful, famous and wealthy. We want agency in a world where most of what we think or do is irrelevant and worthless.

The only way to achieve that goal of relevance and worth is to believe in anything other than the truth. Our ego wants to place itself as the center of the universe, like the earth in Medieval times, and believe that the music of the spheres is playing for us. But, it’s a lullaby, lulling us into a sleep of self.

Fractions of the truth, leads to fragmented minds and to faction. The Other becomes a defining factor in maintaining significance, despite the truth. Faction is integral to dissatisfaction. But, it’s all an illusion built on the desire for significance, which is built on someone else’s insignificance.

All of it is a temple of suffering, the cornerstone of which is our rejection of our own insignificance. What would happen if we were able to accept this truth?

Technosignatures

“‘Technosignatures refer to any evidence of technology that could be remotely detectable, specifically through the tools of astronomy,’ explained Jacob Haqq-Misra, an astrobiologist and senior research investigator at Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, in an email interview with The Debrief. ‘Radio signals are one example of a technosignature but not the only one. Other examples are city lights, surface modifications (cities and large-scale deployment of solar panels), changes in the atmosphere (greenhouse gases like CO2 as well as industrial byproducts like CFCs and NO2), free-floating spacecraft, megastructures (i.e, Dyson spheres/swarms), and other possibilities.’

Hunting for otherworldly technology is no longer science fiction. In 2018, NASA hosted a workshop on the subject of technosignatures, and a report was developed concluding that the study of possible alien technology was an important step for future NASA missions. Today, astronomers, astrobiologists, and other scientists gather online to talk about their work and progress on the subject. The idea of systematically searching for signs of industrial or space-faring civilizations was once laughed out of the room, but now the topic is gaining rock-star cachet and serious popularity within the field of astrobiology.”

-MJ Banias, “Meet The Scientists Hunting for Alien Technology Through ‘Technosignatures’.” The Debrief. December 28, 2020.

Capitol Crimes

“The only good thing I can think of about the tsunami of stupid that crashed into Capitol Hill on Tuesday is that so many of those idiots posed for pictures or appeared in videos that show them committing one or more crimes. In most cases, they are easily identifiable in these images, often because they posted the evidence against them to their personal social media accounts. As we have discussed many times before, that is a very stupid thing to do. So it isn’t too surprising that it happened so often the other day.

[Precedes to cite some of the applicable statutes] …there’s also the federal Anti-Riot Act (18 U.S.C. § 2101, up to five years), and I feel pretty confident in saying that the rioters violated that one. See 18 U.S.C. § 2102 (defining “riot”). Under federal law, it only takes three people to constitute a riot (in California and many other states, it only takes two), so that isn’t an issue.

And those are just some of the crimes they committed simply by being part of the riot.” [Then, lists examples.]

-Kevin Underhill, “Dear Idiots: Please Keep Posting Pictures of You Committing Federal Crimes.” LoweringTheBar.net. January 8, 2021