I come from a food lovin’ family, so nearly all of the treats I bake are an effort to rekindle a fond memory from my past. My sister and I are so fixated on food, that all of our family vacations growing up are remembered soley for the food we consumed. About 15 years ago, we took a 2 week long family trip to Washington DC. It was a big deal for our middle class family, and my parents even took us out of school for the two week period with the gaurantee that we would write a full report on our educational trip upon our return. After a tour of countless museums and battlefields, the only two things my sister and I remeber are- Uno Pizza and Cheetos.
Criminal isn’t it? We ate at an Uno Pizza somewhere along the trip. It was delicious. Obviously. And one day in DC, my parents let us buy a bag of Cheetos (we didn’t get to eat a lot of junk food) and my sister and I followed my parents around the city sharing our Cheetos with little brown birds on the street. My sister and I now call those little brown city birds Cheetos…. still. The school report, was probably a glowing review of Uno’s deep dish pizza crust. Oh my.
What does all of this have to do with Blackberry Jam Cake? Have patience and continue reading.
This Blackberry Jam Cake takes me back to my Aunt DeeDee’s kitchen. Have I told you about my aunt? She is only one of the most glorious people to grace this earth. She was a renegade baker, and nothing could stop her. See, she was blinded by a brain tumor in her 30’s, but she still knew her way around the kitchen and would create unbelievably good food.
DeeDee had a cake she called Arabic Spice Cake. The recipe has since been lost, but this cake with it’s fragrant spice, crunchy nuts and delicate sweetness takes me back to her kitchen.
The cake has a cup of seedless blackberry jam, walnuts and golden raisins, and is spiced with allspice, cloves and cinnamon. It’s moist, warm, inviting, and feels like a hug from my Aunt DeeDee. Truly priceless.
Also- I’m working my my next podcast this weekend, so stay tuned!!
Blackberry Jam Cake
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup seedless blackberry jam
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
For the Cake
Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, line bottom with parchment or waxed paper, and butter paper.
Sift together 3 cups flour and salt into a bowl.
Beat together butter, sugar, allspice, cloves and cinnamon in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs and beat until well combined.
Stir together buttermilk and baking soda in a small bowl. Working in 3 batches, alternately add flour and buttermilk mixtures to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Add jam and beat until well combined. Toss together raisins and nuts with remaining 1 Tablespoon of flour in a bowl, then add to batter and stir until well combined.
Pour batter into baking pan. Bake until wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert cake onto rack, remove paper and cool completely.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 ounces egg whites
8 ounces granulated sugar
12 ounces unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
Place a medium sized pan with about 3 inches of water over medium heat. Place egg whites and salt in a medium sized bowl to create a double boiler over the simmering water.
Once water is simmering, place bowl of egg whites over water, making sure that simmering water does not touch the bottom of the egg white bowl. Whisk egg whites and gradually add 8 ounces of sugar.
Whisk egg whites and sugar over double boiler, whisking constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5-8 minutes.
Remove egg white bowl from double boiler and pour egg white and sugar mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. With the whisk attachment, whisk egg white and sugar on medium speed for about 4 minutes.
While the eggs are whisking, cut softened butter into large chunks, about 8 chunks per stick of butter. When egg white mixture has body and is slightly cooked, stop the mixer and switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, add butter one chunk at a time, letting each chunk of butter incorporate into the egg white mixture for about 20 seconds.
Continue to slowly add the butter chunks, stopping the mixer to scrape down the bowl as necessary.
As you are adding the last chunks of butter, the buttercream will start to look curdled. Don’t worry, just keep the mixer going and add the remaining butter, it will all come together, and the curdled look will disappear.
To Assemble Cake
Place cake on large cake plate, or cake board. Add a thin layer of blackberry jam on top of the cake if desired, this step is optional. Dollop swiss meringue buttercream atop cake, and smooth. I left the sides of the cake bare to show off the dripping blackberry jam and the gorgeous brown color of the cake.