Historic Mardi Gras Cake Recipe

19 Nov


In 1959 Eunice G. Surles of Lake Charles, Louisiana, became the first southern woman to win the Pillsbury bake-off. She won for her cake, Mardi Gras Party Cake, a heavenly concoction of butterscotch, coconut and “sea foam” frosting. Juanita and Jack Surles have generously donated the memorabilia of that win to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and we will soon be displaying Mrs. Surles’ original blue ribbon that she was awarded, photographs with her and Greer Garson (who presented the award) and other celebrities of the day, a plaque given to her by the City of Lake Charles, and news reel footage of her win. SoFAB is grateful to the Surles for their generous donation of this delightful bit of southern culinary history.

Mardi Gras Party Cake

2/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup water
2 1/4 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
Seafoam Cream
1cup whipping cream
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.** In small saucepan over low heat, melt 2/3 cup butterscotch chips in 1/4 cup water, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly.
2. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine flour, all remaining cake ingredients and cooled butterscotch mixture; beat at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Pour batter into greased and floured pans.
3. Bake at 350°F. for 20 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool 30 minutes or until completely cooled.
4. In medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch; stir in half-and-half, 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup butterscotch chips and 1 egg. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in margarine, coconut and nuts; cool slightly.
5. In small bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add brown sugar and vanilla, beating until stiff peaks form.
6. To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer, top side down, on serving plate. Spread with half of filling mixture. Top with second layer, top side up; spread remaining filling on top to within 1/2 inch of edge. Frost sides and top edge of cake with seafoam cream. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Store in refrigerator.

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