Years ago, there was a cake that appeared at special dinners and at the family table — and it was always a hit when it was served.

When I was looking through some old files, I found the recipe for this Butternut Cake. I remember this as being bold yellow in color and super-special in flavor, which comes from the addition of Superior Vanilla, Butter & Nut flavoring. Before sharing this old favorite with you, I decided to check the internet to see if this flavoring is still available.

I was glad to find the old flavoring still being made by Superior, and I also found versions by other flavoring manufacturers. Knowing that I had used the Superior brand for my cake, I decided to be sure the one I found was the same one I used. It was described as the flavoring that “your Grandma used way back when.” This answered my question, because I am one of those Grandmas who did just that, and still remember it as an unusual and satisfying flavor.

Another thing about the recipe that proved it was indeed old is that it calls for “sweet” milk. No, this milk doesn’t have a sweetener added. Calling it “sweet” simply means that you don’t use buttermilk or sour milk.

When I was growing up in the South, we called regular milk “sweet milk.” I can’t help but smile when I think of an experience my husband and I had in Hawaii many years ago. He asked for a glass of “sweet” milk, and the waitress looked stunned. He wondered about her reaction, and I explained that he meant regular milk.     

While searching through my files, I found creative cooks who use Vanilla, Butter & Nut flavoring in many ways. One recipe was called Slap-Your-Mama Cookies, which sounds like it must be a good recipe. Another suggestion is to add it to homemade ice cream.

The field is wide open for all your creative ideas. You might want to add a little to your pumpkin or sweet potato pies. Seems like a great flavor combo. Your guests will probably be wondering what makes your pies so good.

Although you can use the butternut flavoring from other manufacturers, I think it would be a good idea to order the Superior brand to have on hand in order to get the flavor I remember from “way back when.”

I think perhaps the following recipe is from the Crisco kitchens because it calls for their shortening. This is shortening — NOT oil.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups Crisco shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ½ cup self-rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter-nut-vanilla flavoring

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease and lightly flour a Bundt pan or tube pan. Combine sugar and shortening in large mixing bowl. Beat at high speed for 10 minutes. Add eggs and beat 2 minutes. Add milk and beat 1 minute. Beat flours into mixture and then stir in butternut flavoring. Pour into pan and bake about 1 hour 25 minutes or until it tests done when a wooden pick is inserted into center and comes out clean. Remove cake from pan and cool completely on rack before icing.


  • ½ cup Crisco shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon butternut flavoring

Combine all ingredients and beat well. Spread over cooled cake.

NOTE: If this icing seems too thin, simply add a little more confectioners’ sugar. If too thick, add a little more milk.

Award-winning chef Prudence Hilburn’s cooking column appears every other week. Contact her at