Admit it, you think this is my great grandmother’s jam cake. Oh no my friend, this is my grandmother’s great grandmother’s jam cake. My mom and I did the math and we are figuring this recipe is at least 130 years old. And this is the best part, check out what my mom emailed me when I asked for any really old recipes to qualify for this Sugar High Friday theme of heirloom recipes:
Ha! Thanks, Mom.Well, the gauntlet being laid down and all, I decided to make the cake, especially because I loved the Sugar High Friday theme of really old heirloom type recipes. Be sure to check out the round up on Friday, March 27, at In My Box to see what other ancient recipes people dusted off. It was definitely the oldest recipe my mom could find–although she is now going through ALL of my grandma’s recipes so who knows she might find even older. I definitely come from a baking family.
My first question of course was does the jam go in the batter or inbetween layers of the baked cake? After looking at the recipe, and because she made it once before also, my mom said definitely in the batter, otherwise there is not enough sugar in the batter. Duh. I saw she was right as soon as I thought about it.
The second question was temperature–I chose 350 F as a nice safe cake baking average. Then I decided that because the butter was melted, I would fold it in at the last minute, as I remembered Dorie Greenspan had called for that method in her Swedish Visiting Cake, a similarly kind of plain but tasty traditional cake. I made a few changes–a sub for the buttermilk, which I was out of, salt because my butter was unsalted, vanilla because if my great great great (whew!) grandma had had access to vanilla I am sure she would have used it, Ceylon cinnamon (not so much a change as a decision) because its fruitiness better compliments the strawberry. The last decision was the pan, which I decided at the last minute by dumping the batter into a 2 1/2 qt bowl, where I decided it was between 9 and 10 cups and should work ok for a bundt pan.
The result? We all agreed the cake was a winner. It was almost more similar to quick bread in texture, definitely not light, but moist (do not overbake!) and fragrant with strawberries, but not overwhelmingly strawberry. I had been worried it would taste fake, like a strawberry milkshake (they taste fake to me anyway–John loves them), but it was pleasingly strawberry–I think the dark brown sugar toned it down by offering the contrasting flavor of caramel. Any flavor jam you want to try should work.
Great Grandma Kelly’s Jam Cake
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (I used 1/2 plain low fat yogurt and 1/2 1% milk from necessity)
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
1 cup jam or preserves of choice (I used strawberry rhubarb jam and some preserves)
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt (my addition since I only use unsalted butter)
1 t vanilla (I added–I figured it was unavailable back then but that they would have approved)
1/4 t Ceylon cinnamon (true cinnamon, not cassia)
1/4 t nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour (I used baking spray) a 10 cup (probably 9 inch) bundt pan. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
Beat together the eggs and the brown sugar. Beat in the jam to combine thoroughly. Add the sour milk and beat in. Gently stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated. Fold in the melted butter until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes (mine took 52). The cake is done when an inserted cake tester comes out with only a few crumbs attached. Cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before inverting and removing from pan. Cool completely before serving. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
What a great post!
This looks fantastic and even better for having the family history attached to it!
And well done for working out the method, that’s proper culinary detective work in action.
I think I’m going to have to ask my grandma to dig through her recipes now too.
I wish I could find a recipe from my great, great, great grandmother. What a treasure!! A great recipe that I would love to try. The cake looks delicious!
Alyson's Wonderland says
I bet this made your house smell wonderful! How very neat that you can carry on your several great grandma’s memory like this!
noble pig says
I love how it looks and sounds! The pan is an awesome shape and the cake looks yummy moist!
Looks awesome! You know, I’ve seen some old recipe instructions….your probably better off there were none! he he.
Talk about a tried and true recipe! How wonderful that this one has survived a generation. Your tweaks sound wonderful, and I just love the idea of a brown sugar strawberry flavor. Man, I think I might make this cake, like, right now!
Geneaology and cooking – my two favs! This looks and soulns wonderful. Whne I make it I will let you know how it turns out.
130 years? wowza! yes, i’d say this one definitely passes the ol’ “tried-and-true” test. thanks for sharing the recipe, and again, i’m loving the shape your pan makes!
The cake looks amazing! How fantastic to have such an old recipe that still makes yummy cakes like that 🙂
My MIL started making jam cookies last year and they are AWESOME. I am drooling at the thought of this cake. Awesome that you reconstructed the recipe.
That is one beautiful cake and as others mentioned above, the history attached to it makes it even better! I sometimes refer to my paternal grandma’s recipe box and some of the the yellow tinged recipe cards date back to her mom, so it’s comforting and wonderful to read and try them out.
On another note, LOVED your post about flour contents in baking and how the proteins in flour make a difference. I use KA flour in a lot of my baking, but believe it or not, I get the best rise in cookies using bleached flour. However, I don’t like using bleached flour, so I forgo the puffier cookie – but Levain’s cookie isn’t as puffy as it is just well, BIG and THICK! I do notice that the more flour the less spread (no need to chill the dough prior to baking like many do), but you have to be so careful in that respect. I added about 1/4to 1/2 cup of extra flour to the cookies and they were perfect, aesthetically, texture and flavor wise, so I’m sticking to it!
BTW, when is the next Sugar High Fridays challenge? Every time I click on Domestic Goddess’ SHF logo, like she said to do to see the next challenge, I get the prior month’s challenge and the new one doesn’t show up for me until the deadline is right around the corner – like a week away! Dumb luck?? lol
This is amazing! The family history, figuring out the directions yourself, the gorgeous photos, the cake itself – this could not be a more perfect submission for this SHF!
I’m so glad you liked the theme and were sparked by it, and thank you for such a marvelous entry!
Sarena Shasteen says
Love the pan and the cake looks delicious! It is funny with old recipes…I got a cookbook from a friend that is really old and it had no directions with most of the recipes. I guess then it was pretty much a guideline! Great post!
• friX • says
mmm, it looks lovely !