According to Carol Morris of Cambridge, Ontario, this recipe has been in her family for five generations. She tells us that "outsiders" eat the cake with the icing still attached, but all the real Gladys Cake devotees turn the piece of cake on its side and have the cake separately, leaving the icing for last - to eat as a piece of fudge.
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup hot (not boiling) water
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening (or butter or margarine), with the sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in the egg, and mix well.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. In a small bowl or measuring cup, add the lemon juice and the vanilla to the milk, and let it sit for several minutes to become sour. Add the milk mixture to the butter mixture, alternately with the flour mixture, in several additions - stirring well with a spoon after each addition. Now add the hot water, stirring well, and scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure it's all evenly mixed. Pour into a well-greased 9 in. (22 cm) cake pan. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched in the centre.
Let the cake cool completely before icing it. As it cools, the cake may collapse a bit in the middle - but this is good, according to Carol, because it provides a nice depression in which the fudgy icing can pool thickly.
Now, make the icing. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the ½ cup (125 mL) butter and the brown sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the milk and bring back to a boil. Remove saucepan from the burner and stir in the vanilla. Let this mixture cool until it is just warm, then add the icing sugar and cocoa, beating with a whisk or electric mixer until smooth. Pour the icing onto the cake (quick - before it hardens!), smoothing the top, and then let it cool completely before serving.