My Aunt Ruby made Kentucky Jam Cake as long as I can remember for our Christmas day dinner. When she could no longer make it one of her daughters Jena took over the duty. Last year Jena and her family went to Florida to visit one of their daughters for Christmas and I realized we would have no Jam Cake for Christmas. Of course, over the years things change and certain traditions fall by the way side and new traditions are made. But I was not ready to let go of Aunt Ruby's Jam Cake.
I asked Jena for the recipe and she happily gave to me and also gave me tips to ensure my success. Yet, I was nervous that I would not live up to Aunt Ruby's cake. She was living now with my Uncle Bobby in an assisted living facility and I wanted to bring her a piece and see if she approved. I knew I would not have Uncle Bobby's home made blackberry jam for the cake but I would do my best. (Here is a change that was hard to make but I knew I would eliminate jam with seeds. I also knew my dental work would thank me.)
Thankfully, when starting to make the cake my Sister Anne jumped in to help me. Another change was that Aunt Ruby usually made the cake in two round cake pans but when I went to do it in the pans my Mom had they were smaller than Ruby's and the batter leaked out into the oven. Mom and Anne suggested I make it a 3 layer cake in the smaller pans and we averted that disaster.
Then came the caramel icing. I tried doing what Jena told me and I could not seem to make it work. Again, I thought I had failed. Then Anne talked me off the jam cake ledge and we went to YouTube for advice from a Kentucky cook who has a channel there called Betty's Kitchen. Oddly enough my Mom's name is Betty so it seemed fitting. I have tried many of Betty's Kitchen recipes and they usually turn out well. So we consulted Betty and doubled her recipe. It really took team work to pull of the icing and I was happy to have my Sis guide me through all the steps.
Well the cake turned out pretty well. I took it to the dinner and everyone seemed to enjoy it. But the real test was Aunt Ruby. After dinner we went for a visit and took her a piece. One thing that I have admired about my Aunt Ruby is that she usually calls it as she sees it. I was beside myself hoping that she might give me her blessing on the cake. I unwrapped it and she eyed it like an inspector. She commented on the extra layer. I explained my pan situation and then she said it looked pretty with a third layer. The real test though was the taste. She took a small piece on her fork, again eyeing it, then slowly placed it in her mouth. She let it rest on her tongue, closed her eyes, and then began to chew. Next she told me "The icing is good, but what kind of jam did you use?" I explained to her I did not have Uncle Bobby's home made jam and that I went with a store bought seedless brand because of my dental work." Then she patted me on the hand and said, "It's very good."
Perhaps you might want to add this to your Christmas menu? It is not easy to make, but I can assure you the experts agree-it's very good.
Aunt Ruby's Kentucky Jam Cake
5 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 c. butter
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsps ground clove
1 1/2 tsp. allspice
1 c. raisins
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. blackberry jam
Cream butter. Gradually add sugar. Cream together until light and fluffy. Add well-beaten eggs. Add spices and salt to flour. Dissolve soda in buttermilk and add it and flour mixture alternately to egg, sugar, etc mixture and beat after each addition.Lightly dredge fruit and nuts and extra flour and add. Next add jam. Stir to get good distribution. Grease and paper-line two 9" pans.Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.
Let cool completely, before icing.
(I doubled this for my cake)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/3 cup cream (I used whipping cream.)
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups confectioner's sugar (This is the same as powdered sugar or icing sugar.)
Melt 1 stick butter in a pot over low heat. Stir in 1/3 cup cream and 1 ½ cups brown sugar. Bring to a full boil over medium heat. This will take about 2 or 3 minutes. Beat in 1 ½ cups confectioner's sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Frost cooled cake. This frosting is thin when it is warm, but it thickens fairly soon. You should start frosting your cake when the Caramel Icing is spreadable, and work quickly, as the icing will thicken as you apply it. You will have time to put some gorgeous swirls in the icing, and then you should leave it untouched until the icing sets up.