Prepare burnt sugar by placing 1/2 cup white sugar into a heavy skillet over medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon as sugar melts. when it becomes very dark brown, remove from heat,add hot water very slowly and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9 inch round baking pans with parchment paper.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together three times.
Cream the butter with the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time,beating thoroughly after each. Stir in the vanilla and the burnt sugar syrup mixture.
Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately to the creamed mixture. Beat until smooth. Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees(175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.