1800–1869: Granny Kellett's Jam Cake
As I continue to bake my way through the cakes of America, I've started skipping more. Not only are some of the cakes flavors I dislike--Boston cream pie--but many of the cakes are too similar to constitute baking them immediately after the cake before. So far, I've passed on making Cowboy Cake (skipped because I don't have a Dutch oven), Boston cream Pie (the aforementioned disliked cake), and Sarah Polk's Hickory Nut Cake (passed because I'm tired of cakes that don't have frosting). Even though I didn't baked these cakes, I enjoyed reading and learning about their history.
This week, you're learning about Granny Kellett's Jam Cake.
After the Civil War, blackberries were scavenged and turned into jam. Thus, the jam cake was born! This cake uses a full cup of blackberry jam. We opted for a jam with chia seeds in it. If you don't like seeds, you can use a jam that doesn't have any, but they add a great texture to your cake. This cake also called for nuts, but I didn't include them for two reasons: one, nuts are expensive, and two, I'm tired of nuts in every cake.
Byrn suggests baking the cake as a layer cake in two 9" round cake pans--the Kellett family bakes theirs in a tube pan; however, it's easier to share if you make cupcakes. I made my cupcakes in regular cupcake size as well as mini.
If you're baking cupcakes, the only thing to adjust is the bake time. Fill your cupcake liners so they're 3/4 full. Bake regular sized cupcakes at 350 for 19-23 minutes. For mini cupcakes, bake 9–13 minutes.
Byrn also suggests topping it with caramel frosting like they do in Kentucky, so I made a vegan version.
Vegan Caramel Frosting
1/2 cup earth balance butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup canned coconut cream (the Trader Joe's and Sprouts brands are my favorite)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Wait until your cakes are completely cooled before making the frosting.
Put the butter, brown sugar, coconut cream, vanilla, and salt in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat.
Cook, stirring, until the mixture boils--about 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth.
Don't let this frosting sit. Immediately frost your cake.
Spoon about a third of the warm frosting on one cake.
Place the second cake on top, and spoon the remaining frosting over the top.
Let it trickle down the cake and allow it to set before slicing and serving.
For my cupcakes, I put the frosting in a squeeze bottle and put a bit on top. This frosting is rather sweet, so I needed to balance my frosting-to-cake ratio. I think it was just right.