"This rich holiday dessert was invented by my grandmother and is a tradition in our house over Christmas. These ingredients were originally the authentic thing -- homemade jam, buttermilk out of the churn, and walnuts you gather and crack yourself. Now we use purchased items, but the cake is just as good. Frost with homemade caramel frosting, or your favorite cream cheese frosting." — Amy
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seedless blackberry jam
3 1/2 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons
chopped black walnuts
Georgia was my grandmother, but she passed away in January of this year. She was poor and had no access to cookbooks. Of course, there are tons of jam cake recipes out there, but this was her own special recipe, written and modified many times to make good use of the things she had lots of -- homemade blackberry jam, walnuts, buttermilk, butter and eggs. I can't speak for anyone else's recipe, but my grandma's special tricks included cutting circles from brown paper, greasing those with butter, and lining her round cake pans to keep the cakes from sticking. She was a phenomenal person.
My grandmother, too, was a proud Virginia lady who called her recipes receipts (which is the traditional old English way).She called her jam cakes Tennessee Jam Cake because she had eaten her first one at a wedding there and had requested the recipe from a cousin who had cooked it for the wedding feast. It is entirely correct to call a jam cake, in the south, Tennessee Jam Cake because it is traditionally associated with that state and its long and noble culinary traditions- no matter where it was invented -England has a very similar cake- it is Tennessee Jam Cake! Last word! Tradition rules! Oh yes, I can't imagine anything but burnt sugar icing on jam cake; by all means try cream cheese, but I think you will go back to caramel. I use cream to keep the burnt sugar from curdling- forget the calories! My grandmother beat the egg whites separately to lighten the cake. Misha
Great taste. I was curious on this and wanted to try it out for my father-in-laws birthday. This came out similar to what I would consider a spice cake and I did not really taste the jam. Thank you for sharing the recipe and your story about Georgia.
I hate to tell you this but my grandmother made that exact same cake more than 60 years ago in Arkansas. I don't know where she got the recipe but I have it and I have loved it all these years including the black walnuts.
This is an exceptionally good spice cake. However, the blackberry really didn't come through with so much clove and nutmeg added. The jam's real purpose seems only to be to moisten the cake. For that you could just use applesauce as a cheaper alternative. For my second attempt, I drastically reduced the amount of clove and nutmeg, to 1/2 tsp each, and added 4 tbsp of blackberry liquor. Both cakes got rave reviews but the second was more "blackberry", IMHO. As a side note, I frosted the first cake with cream cheese icing and found it to be way to sweet for my taste. My family ended up just scraping the icing off. Also, for both cakes, I spread blackberry jam between the layers. Finally, as with most fruit and vegetable based cakes and breads, this gets better with age.
This is an excellent cake recipe -- very moist and full of flavor. I used fresh nutmeg, which was a nice fresh touch to it. The cake was very dense, but the three layers was a nice contrast to the density.
I used a caramel frosting, which was nice, but I think it would also be great with a cream cheese frosting, and think I would prefer the tang of that next time. I also subbed chopped dates for the raisins, and you don't notice them once baked -- they just give the cake a nice richness. Did not use the nuts.
On one of the inside layers, did a layer of blackberry jam instead of frosting -- would recommend that; it was nice. Also, would suggest heating your jam a bit before adding to the batter, if it's cool out, because I had trouble getting it to blend in; it clumped a bit.
Overall, really nice cake!
This is a nice cake. It makes a lot--I made a full bundt cake and 12 cupcakes. I don't have a clue what I'm going to do with it all, so it's a good thing it tastes good! It is very reminiscent of a spice cake--all those spices really jack up the flavor. I didn't have blackberry jam, so I used strawberry freezer jam I had made a while ago. I can taste the jam, if only slightly, but it goes well with the other flavors in this cake. I actually had walnuts (we usually don't have them--bf doesn't like them) so I tossed those in, along with the raisins. I didn't use golden raisins, though--just regular. This cake turns out very sweet, so I personally don't think it needs an icing or glaze at all. I just sprinkled it with powdered sugar and called it a day. Thanks for the recipe!
A very nice cake! Not too dry at all - just right. I scaled your recipe by 3/4 and, as it baked, it rose to fill two 9 x 1.5 pans. I buttered and floured the pans well, but it still stuck a bit. I will use parchment paper next time. I boiled a can of sweetened condensed milk to make dulce de leche and used that as my topping - came out great! Thank you for the recipe.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Georgia's Tennessee Jam Cake
Serving Size: 1/12 of a recipe
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat: 231
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