Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting is super moist, elegant and impressive cake that was my mom’s favorite dessert.

glass cake sand holding Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting

Blackberry Jam Cake

Jam Cake is a traditional Kentucky dessert, dating back more than 100 years. It was my mom Sally’s favorite cake as a child – and she loved it throughout her life, especially on her birthday. Our family’s version of this delectable dessert starts with a basic spice cake batter (including allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) and adds in cocoa powder, blackberry jam (a traditional ingredient in Jam Cake), buttermilk, raisins and pecans. The resulting cake is sooo moist, and packed with flavor!

Caramel Frosting

Over the years, the family Jam Cake frosting recipe was lost. So, one year I created this Caramel Frosting when making the cake for mom’s birthday celebration. She loved it and we’ve been making the cake with it ever since.

slice of Jam Cake showing interior

How to make Jam Cake

Time needed: 35 minutes.

Even though the ingredient list for Jam Cake is long, it’s not difficult to prepare! Here are the steps:

  1. Prep oven and pan.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

  2. Combine dry ingredients.

    In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

  3. Combine wet ingredients.

    With an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, combine together the sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Blend in jam.

  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients.

    Again with the mixer on low, add half of the dry ingredient mixture, then half the buttermilk. Repeat and mix just until blended.

  5. Finish the batter.

    Stop the mixer and fold in raisins and pecans.

  6. Bake and cool.

    Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Place pans on a wire rack to cool.

How to make Caramel Frosting

This frosting is super easy to prepare, especially when compared to a buttercream frosting! Here are the steps:

  1. Heat butter and sugar.
    In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, slowly stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves (when stirring it won’t feel/sound gritty).
  2. Add milk.
    Whisk in the milk and bring to a slow boil, slowly stirring constantly.
  3. Add vanilla.
    Take off heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Add powdered sugar.
    Stir or whisk in powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the right consistency is reached – thick enough to frost the cake but not lumpy.
  5. Cool.
    Let cool to room temperature before frosting the cake.

How to assemble the Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting

Once the cake is baked and cooled and the frosting is ready, here are the final steps to put it all together:

  1. Even out top of cake layers.
    If the cakes have domed on the top, cut the top of the dome off so each section of the cake is fairly flat.
  2. Set up base cake layer.
    Place one cake layer on the serving platter you plan to use. (Tip: If you place pieces of wax paper around the edge of the serving platter and then put the cake on top, the paper will catch any frosting that drips when you frost the cake. You can then gently pull them out after you are done. This way, the serving platter stays clean.)
  3. Frost top of base layer.
    Spread some of the frosting on top of the base layer, about 1/4-inch thick.
  4. Position second layer.
    Take the second cake and place it upside down on top of the frosting (this way the smoothest side, which is the bottom during baking, is the top of your cake).
  5. Frost.
    Using a flat spatula or knife, spread frosting evenly the top and sides of the cake layers to cover completely. I like to swirl it around a bit (see photo).
glass cake sand holding Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting
Can this recipe be made with other flavors of jam?

Yes you can use pretty much any flavor jam, but blackberry is the traditional Kentucky ingredient.

What to do if the Caramel Frosting is too thin or runny?

If your frosting is runny, then add more powdered sugar. The key is to add the powdered sugar around 1/4 cup at a time, until you achieve the right consistency – not runny but also not lumpy or too thick to spread.

How can you prevent Caramel Frosting from being grainy?

Here are my tips on how to keep your frosting from becoming grainy:
1. Heat the butter and sugar over low heat, stirring slowly and constantly. Stirring too quickly can cause crystallization (graininess).
2. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before adding the milk. Partially dissolved sugar can also make the frosting grainy.

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glass cake sand holding Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting

Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting

  • Author: From “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®” by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings 1x
  • Category: desserts, cakes

Description

Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting is super moist and flavorful. Blackberry jam is added to a spice cake batter, ramping up the flavor and adding moisture.


Ingredients

Scale

Jam Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup blackberry jam – see Note
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Caramel Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Jam Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream the sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Blend in jam.
  4. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture, then half the buttermilk. Repeat and mix just until blended.
  5. Stop the mixer and fold in raisins and pecans.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Place pans on a wire rack to cool.

Caramel Frosting:

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, slowly stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Whisk in the milk and bring to a slow boil, slowly stirring constantly.
  3. Take off heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Stir or whisk in powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the right consistency is reached – thick enough to frost the cake but not lumpy.
  5. Let cool to room temperature before frosting the cake.

Assembly:

  1. If the cakes have domed on the top, cut the top of the dome off so each section of the cake is fairly flat.
  2. Place one cake layer on the serving platter you plan to use. (Note: If you place pieces of wax paper around the edge of the serving platter and then put the cake on top, the paper will catch any frosting that drips when you frost the cake. You can then gently pull them out after you are done. This way, the serving platter stays clean.)
  3. Spread some of the frosting on the top of the base layer, about 1/4-inch thick.
  4. Take the second cake layer and place it upside down on top of the frosting (this way the smoothest side, which is the bottom during baking, is the top of your cake).
  5. Frost the top and sides with remaining frosting.

Notes

Note on jam: you can use any flavor jam, but blackberry is the traditional Kentucky ingredient.

Doubling the recipe: use three 9-inch cake pans.

High altitude: no adjustments are needed.

Lee Clayton Roper

Welcome!

I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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