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Jam is usually reserved for bread and biscuits, but the Kentucky tradition of jam cake takes it to another level. Jam cake is a spice cake that is often served in layers with cream cheese frosting or caramel, and sometimes another frosting altogether.
Patti Davis of Waterford shared her family’s favorite jam cake with the Patchworkers Quilt Guild in Spencer County at a monthly meeting recently. Her family fell in love with the jam cake that her mother-in-law made for the holidays many years ago.
“The recipe came from an old Church of God cookbook that was probably published some time in the ‘70s or ‘80s. She used to go to that church,” said Davis, adding that the book was probably a gift from her mother-in-law’s twin sister. “It was just a recipe she picked out to make and we all liked.”
The jam cake became a yearly tradition because Davis’ husband and son enjoyed it so much. Her mother-in-law started making food gifts for each family for Christmas. One son’s family received fudge and another received a chocolate layer cake. Davis’ family got a jam Bundt cake each year. Now Davis makes the jam cakes.
“With my family, we normally have no glaze or caramel icing. They like just the cake itself,” said Davis. She served a caramel butter sauce over the cake, with a dish of the sauce on the side, when she brought it to the quilt guild meeting, though, to dress it up a little.
“The caramel sauce is like a butter icing. It’s my mother’s recipe. She came up with it,” said Davis. “It’s more like a sauce.”
Davis’s husband does not like caramel icing, so she does not use it at home. She also likes to add walnuts to the cake, but no one else in her family likes it that way.
Her mother created the caramel recipe for a yellow sponge cake. She poured the butter sauce over the cake to make it moist. Davis enjoys that cake, but her husband does not.
“My mom and dad were both great cooks and came up with their own versions or style of foods,” said Davis, adding that her father was a cook in the military. “They came out good, too.”
Davis made a substitution when she made the cake recently that resulted in a product she likes even better than before.
“Instead of baking soda, I substituted baking powder in an equal amount,” said Davis. “Instead of a dense jam cake, it made a light fluffy cake.”
Davis noted that the result is probably similar to using cake flour instead of plain flour. She does not buy cake flour herself though.
Davis uses blackberry jam that she makes herself from blackberries that grow on her property. Traditionally, blackberry jam is what is used, but raspberry or strawberry jam should also work. Davis likes to use dark raisins, but lighter ones could be substituted.
Old Fashioned Jam Cake
1 C. [2 sticks] margarine
2 C. sugar
2 C. buttermilk
3-1/2 C. flour
3 t. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
1/2 t. salt
2 t. soda
4-5 t. cocoa
1 C. Blackberry Jam
1 C. raisins (dark raisins)
Optional: Chopped Walnuts
Cream together the margarine and sugar. Add buttermilk. Sift flour and other dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture.
Lastly, add jam, raisin and nuts. Pour into three greased 9-inch pans or pour into greased Bundt pan. Since there is so much batter part of it can be added to a 9-inch pan and the rest to a Bundt pan. (This keeps it from possibly spilling over the Bundt pan.) Bake at 325 degrees until testing and done in the middle, approximately 50 minutes. The 9-inch pan will bake in less time.
1 C. sugar
3 egg yellows, slightly beaten
1 C. cream [I used whole milk]
2 t. vanilla
1 stick margarine
Mix all in saucepan over low heat. Stir continuously until mixture bubbles 1-2 minutes and is thickened. Take off heat and stir 1 minute more.
The icing is more like a vanilla curd. Use as a cake topping or dipping sauce. Great over ice cream.