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3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
One 1-pound box (about 2 3/4 cups) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
5 eggs

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan, or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a fork to mix well. Stir the vanilla into the milk and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar in 3 batches, and then add all of the white sugar, beating well after each addition.

Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour, and then half the milk, beating at low speed only until the flour or milk disappears into the batter. Add in the rest of the flour, and then the remaining milk, in the same way.

Quickly scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes (55 to 60 minutes for loaf pans), or until the cake is nicely browned at the edges, springs back when touched lightly at the center, and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel for 20 to 30 minutes. Loosen the cake from the pan with a table knife, and turn it out onto a wire rack or a plate to cool completely, topside up.

Serves 6 to 8.

Quick Caramel Glaze
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the butter and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the butter melts and blends with the sugar into a smooth sauce, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk, and let the icing come to a gentle boil. Stir well, remove from the heat, and add the sifted confectioners’ sugar. Beat well with a mixer, whisk or spoon for 1 or 2 minutes, until the icing thickens and loses a little of its shine. Use at once. If the glaze hardens, stir in 1 or 2 spoonfuls of evaporated milk to soften it.

Makes enough for one 3-layer cake, one tube or Bundt cake, or one 13-by-9-inch cake.

Nancie McDermott, Southern Cakes (Chronicle Books, 2007)