Step 1Heat the sugar in a heavy skillet over low heat. Stir constantly until it is melted to a brown liquid. When it bubbles over its entire surface, about 20 minutes, remove from the heat.
Step 2Slowly add the boiling water, stirring constantly. Pour into a container and cool. Use one-fourth cup for the cake; save the rest for another use.
Step 1Brown the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat -- be vigilant or it will burn. Allow the butter to cool.
Step 2Pour the cooled butter into a large mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla and salt and beat until smooth. If the frosting is too stiff, add a tablespoon of half-and-half or cream.
Step 1Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottoms of two 8-inch layer cake pans with greased wax paper.
Step 2In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the syrup.
Step 3In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk.
Step 4In a separate medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs about 3 minutes, until foamy. Add the remaining sugar and beat until mixture resembles a fine spongy foam, another 3 minutes. Stir it into cake batter until blended.
Step 5Divide the batter between the cake pans. Bake for about 25 minutes. Check by gently pressing the center of a cake; it should spring back. If it doesn't, bake for 10 more minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then on a rack before frosting with caramel frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.