August 7, 2009

Calls for jam

Speaking of berries and peaches, it's also jamming season, and the pantry is loaded with jam, eagerly awaiting some special use, apart from being slathered on toast every morning. My dad and I have been jamming this summer, and we're still not finished. We've made apricot pineapple jam, blackberry jam (for which we had to go out and pick berries and commune with the spiders on several mornings), and peach jam with vanilla bean. Well, he made that first batch of peach jam by himself. We're supposed to make another batch soon, with cinnamon sticks. By the end of summer, we should be expert jam makers. It's pretty fun, too, when done as a team. After getting used to the assembly line like production, from the bubbling pots on the stove to the ladling of hot jam into the hot jars on the counter, the whole process flows fairly smoothly.

Ever since we finished making the blackberry jam, I've been thinking about this recipe, a layer of jam sandwiched between clouds of cake. It looked like a good way to make a small dent in a huge supply of jam. However, when I finally decided to make the recipe, I couldn't make up my mind about which jam to use, because all three taste good. The blackberry won me over in the end, being my first choice, and I thought that the deep, syrupy flavor would make for a nice contrast with the cake itself. Since we have such a variety of jams in stock, though, this cake calls for a little experimenting, and perhaps I'll make another one soon, with one of the peach jams. If I can get my hands on a pair of smaller cake pans by then, maybe I'll bake two cakes and have a cake tasting test between jams.

So, if you have a few jars of homemade jam sitting in your pantry, make this cake. It's light and fluffy and very tasty with a trio of lemon, almond, and vanilla extracts flavoring its depths. The blackberry jam did make for a nice contrast with the cake layers; it needed the jam to make it more substantial, it was so light. By the next day, the whole thing was polished off.

Jam-Filled Butter Cake
Adapted from Flo Braker, via

1 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
½ tsp lemon extract
½ tsp pure almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
1 cup jam of choice, such as blackberry (or apricot, or peach)
¼ cup powdered sugar

Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Adjust rack to lower third of oven; preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round springform pan; insert a round of parchment or waxed paper in bottom of pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, preferably with paddle attachment, beat the butter in a large bowl (make sure it's a deep bowl, because the mixture will splatter a bit) at medium speed until it's smooth and creamy. Maintaining the same speed, add the sugar in a steady stream. When all the sugar is added, stop the machine and scrape the mixture clinging to the sides of the bowl into the center of the bowl. Continue to cream at the same speed for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light in color and fluffy in appearance. Add the extracts in the final moments of beating the butter and sugar.

With the mixer still on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one thoroughly into the mixture before adding the next. When the mixture appears fluffy, reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the milk in two additions. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally, and mix until smooth after each addition. Spoon the batter evenly into the pan.

Bake for about 40 - 45 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of wet batter. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully release the springform and remove the metal ring from around the cake. Cool completely before removing the cake from the metal form.

Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake layer in half horizontally. Set the bottom cake layer on a serving plate and spread the jam over the cut surface. Place the top portion of the cake cut-side down on the jam-covered layer.

To decorate, sift powdered sugar over the top.

1 comment:

  1. The blackberry jam was excellent - blackberries and strawberries are among my favorite fruits - but the peach with vanilla was also great. This cake had a very soft texture and a taste that would probably pair well with a lot of different flavors of jam. -- Michael