This jam cake recipe makes one of my all-time favorite cakes but it took a couple tries to replicate the cake I remember...but let me back up and explain. Just about every weekend in the late summer and into fall my friend Jen drives about 7 hours north of here to a little place called Dunsmuir, near Mt. Shasta. They camp, and fly-fish, and pick wild blackberries which Jen brings back and makes all sorts of good stuff out of: blackberry tarts and blackberry jam are my favorites.
She gave me another jar of jam this week, and I decided to make this Rombauer Jam Cake with it. I have actually tried this cake once before. A couple friends of ours were working for Michael Chiarello, the chef/cookbook author at Napastyle. They were having a book signing / party in the cellars of a winery in Napa. We sampled different Napa Style products, many of which can be used in the recipes in this book, Napa Stories. They had various tapenades, flavored oils, and jams, all of which were delicious. At the very last tasting table they were serving this jam cake made with the Napastyle Huckleberry Jam. It was quite possibly the most delicious cake I've ever tasted. I couldn't put down my Visa fast enough for the $50 book with the recipe in it, plus an armful of jams.
So I get home, try the cake, and it is very good. But not the transcendent flavor experience I had had in the wine cellars, I was convinced their version had some secret magic ingredient that wasn't being disclosed in the book...
I decided to give the jam cake another shot this afternoon with Jen's blackberry jam. The last time I made this cake I used golden brown sugar in the cake and for the icing, it doesn't specify whether to use light or dark. This time I tried dark brown sugar in both hoping for a deeper flavor, and overall color to the cake. It may be my imagination, but this made all the difference in the world. The cake was moist, with berry undertones, a sugary crispness from the brown sugar icing. Delicious. A perfect autumn and/or holiday cake --just be sure to use a good quality jam, and the dark sugar.
Rombauer Jam Cake Recipe
This recipe was adapted from Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. This version was published by Michael Chiarello in Napa Stories (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang 2001).
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 taspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter or shortening
1 cup packed (hs note: dark!) brown sugar
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup raspberry or blackberry jam
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
For the quick brown-sugar icing:
1 1/2 cups (hs note: dark!) brown sugar
5 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 7-inch tube pan or Bundt pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Cream butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until barely blended. Stir in jam and nuts. Pour into buttered pan. Bake until done, about 30 minutes. When cool, invert the cake onto a platter and ice with quick brown-sugar icing.
Make the icing:
Combine brown sugar, cream, butter, and salt and cook slowly to the boiling point. Remove from heat. Cool slightly, then add vanilla. Beat the icing until it can be spread.
Makes one 7-inch cake.