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
- Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans (I’ll admit I used Baker’s Joy instead.)
- Combine flour, spices, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on high speed until well combined.
- Add the eggs, beating after each one until combined.
- Stir the jam and add to the batter. Mix until combined.
- Add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add milk and stir until just barely combined
- 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.
- Cool completely on wire racks before assembling.
- 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
- Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
- Add the milk and bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
- 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!)
- Place the first layer on serving plate and pour about 1/3 of the glaze onto it, spreading to edges of cake.
- 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.