Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening. Add the egg and beat until light. Mix in the milk and vanilla. Sift together the flour and baking powder, add to the mixture, and beat until smooth. Pour into the pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.
To make the topping, combine the topping ingredients. Sprinkle on the warm cake. Place under the broiler until the topping bubbles (about 5 minutes), then remove the cake immediately. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or completely cooled.
A popular contribution to church suppers and other potlucks, this is also a special treat for a family breakfast. The topping has a delicious caramel flavor.