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Jam Cake

10.July 2012
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For my graduation party, we made a lot of goodies (polenta cookies, sesame cookies, old-school Southern canapes, and punch, but obviously a cake was in order. I thought about various towering confections with buttercream or Italian meringue, cakes oozing lemon curd filling and as light and delicate as air.

And then I realized that it was 95 degrees and that we were planning I about 20 people in our UN-air-conditioned apartment. The specter of melting buttercream, weeping meringue, and too-oozy curd brought tears to my eyes.

A sturdy cake, then.

What my mom and I settled on (did I mention that my mom helped out massively with the party prep this time?) was an old fashioned Jam Cake.

A jam cake involves, as you might have guessed, jam. In this case it’s actually baked into the batter, where it suffuses the cake with jammy flavor, but not with over-sweetness. The icing for this jam cake was a hard caramel icing (perfect for hot weather). All together, the spiciness of the cake, fruitiness of the jam, and heady sweetness of the caramel make this a delightful, all-season cake. Its spices are warming for the winter, and it’s sturdiness and fruitiness makes it summer-picnic-appropriate.

Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel Glaze

(barely) adapted from Nancie McDermott’s Southern Cakes

for the cake

  • 3 c flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground allspice
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1 c butter
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c jam (I used blackberry, but use whatever flavor you like!)
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/2 t salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans (I’ll admit I used Baker’s Joy instead.)
  2. Combine flour, spices, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on high speed until well combined.
  4. Add the eggs, beating after each one until combined.
  5. Stir the jam and add to the batter. Mix until combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add milk and stir until just barely combined
  7. Spread the batter into the cake pans. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or more – mine took forEVER to bake, but my blackberry jam was REALLY runny) until cakes are nicely browned.
  8. Cool completely on wire racks before assembling.
for the glaze
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c evaporated milk (or half and half)
  • 1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  1. Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. 
  3. Add the milk and bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
  4. Remove from heat, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whisk until the icing thickens and loses some shine. (I did this with a stand mixer and recommend you do the same!)
  5. Place the first layer on serving plate and pour about 1/3 of the glaze onto it, spreading to edges of cake.
  6. Place second layer on top and pour the rest of the glaze over the top, spreading to edges and encouraging it to spill over the sides and look pretty.
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 10.July 2012 11:35

    Looks (and sounds!) delicious!

    • Darby O'Shea permalink*
      21.July 2012 12:51

      It was, quite! Hope you’re enjoying your summer!

  2. 12.July 2012 10:49

    It looks wonderful!

    • Darby O'Shea permalink*
      21.July 2012 12:51

      Thanks! It was tasty and stood up to the heat admirably!

  3. Susan permalink
    19.August 2012 10:25

    What type flour did you use?

    • Darby O'Shea permalink*
      26.August 2012 19:28

      I use King Arthur unbleached all purpose almost exclusively! This is no exception.

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