Best Southern Layered Jam Cake is a rich and robust celebration cake made with blackberry jam and warm spices.
If you search the internet for a ‘Jam Cake’ you’ll get mostly recipes that have jam as the filling between the layers of cake. However, this Jam Cake actually has the jam in the cake. It’s a very old recipe. Originally, my grandmother made it when my dad was young. It was his favorite cake at the time.
Years ago, this was primarily a ‘special occasion’ cake. The majority of the South was poor and couldn’t afford such a decadent cake with jam and multiple spices like in this cake very often. That’s why Southern desserts such as bread pudding, rice pudding, and milk toast were staples. They didn’t waste any food so leftovers were often turned into something else. Old bread was turned into bread pudding, leftover rice into rice pudding. You get the picture. 😉
BEST SOUTHERN LAYERED JAM CAKE TIPS
I used seedless blackberry jam for my cake, but you can use strawberry or blueberry jam. I recommend using a seedless jam regardless of the flavor you use.
As well, I put a cup of finely chopped pecans in my batter. I prefer the flavor of pecans over walnuts. However, you can use walnuts or you can leave out nuts totally.
Always sift your flour before measuring it. Then, use the Spoon & Sweep method to measure it. After sifting, use a spoon to fill the measuring cup with flour then level the top with the back of a knife.
The cake itself isn’t overly sweet. However, the caramel frosting is very decadent. After all, it is caramel!
You can also make this cake in a 9×13-inch baking pan. I haven’t tried it in a bundt pan.
Caramel frosting pairs perfectly with the spices in this cake. I tried to talk myself into going with different icing, but I just couldn’t. Traditionally, my grandmother would frost her jam cakes with caramel.
Here are just a few tips regarding the frosting.
- Yes, four cups of packed brown sugar is correct. It is a lot of sugar. (This recipe makes a lot of frosting, probably more than most people like on a cake. However, halving the recipe doesn’t result in enough to frost a three-layer cake and I haven’t wanted to work with trying to reduce the recipe 3/4ish.)
- Use real butter.
- Why add baking powder? Ok, the short answer is: It creates air bubbles which ultimately keeps the icing softer.
Although I don’t always post Southern recipes, I have made an effort to post a lot of old-fashioned Southern favorite recipes like this Jam Cake that my family has enjoyed over the years. Here are several more old-fashioned Southern favorites.
- Caramel Pie
- Chocolate Pie
- Pecan Pie
- Fig Preserve Pound Cake
- Chess Pie
- Buttermilk Pie
- Butter Roll
- No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls
- Cornbread Dressing
- Squash Casserole
- Old Fashioned Blue Ribbon Pound Cake
Best Southern Layered Jam Cake
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- 1 cup butter unsalted, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup blackberry jam seedless
- 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
- 4 cups brown sugar packed
- ½ cup butter real butter, no substitute
- 5 ounces whole milk
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans with solid vegetable shortening and flour or Wilton Cae release. I also wrap Wilton Cake Strips around my pans so that the cake bakes flat without a dome in the middle of the layer.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.
- With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time allowing the yolk to disappear into the mixture before adding the next egg. Stop your mixer and scrape the sides.
- In a separate bowl, add the sifted flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
- To your butter/sugar mixer in the bowl of your electric mixer, add the jam, once it's incorporated add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Next add 1/2 of the buttermilk, followed by another 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, and final 1/3 flour.
- Stop the mixer and scrape the sides. Mix to incorporate everything one last time.
- Pour the batter equally into your prepared 8-inch cake pans. Smooth the top evenly. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes at 350°F. You can test the cakes by inserting a wooden pick into the center of the cake. If it comes out with dry crumbs or no crumbs the cake is done.
- Cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely. Frost after the layers have cooled completely.
- Bring the sugar, butter, milk, and salt to a boil. Boil 3 minutes stirring often.
- Remove from the heat. Add baking powder and vanilla. Beat at med speed with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until it begins to get thick.
- Stir in 1 tablespoon heavy cream.
- Place one cake layer on your cake stand. Level the layer is it's taller in the center. Then, pour about 3/4 cup caramel over the cake. I allow it to drip down the sides naturally but you can frost it traditionally on the sides. Work fast frosting the cake, as the frosting cools it gets thick and harder to work with.
- Top the bottom later with another layer and pour icing over it.
- Finally, place the third cake layer on the others and pour caramel icing over it. This recipe makes enough to frost a 3 layer cake and sides.
You can find more recipes at my Recipe Index and at Meal Plan Monday and Weekend Potluck.
Donna B says
All of my homemade blackberry jam has seeds. Will the seeds ruin the cake?
You can run it through a strainer or leave them in. I don’t mind the seeds personally.
My great grandmother passed down her recipe and it is always my favorite cake. Knows as the Tennessee Jam cake has blackberry Jam and strawberry preserves as well as raisins and black walnuts. And the Carmel frosting.
I baked this yesterday. It smelled so delicious in the oven. I used a bundt pan for 45 minutes. This cake cooked up beautifully. Thanks for sharing.
BONNIE DINKA says
Oh, My! This was my first ever Jam Cake and my life now feels complete. Thank you so much for such a marvelous recipe. My twelve-year-old daughter whipped this up. It is absolute perfection to get into the fall spirit. She didn’t use the caramel icing recipe; she swapped it for my grandma’s old recipe (with a cup less sugar), but that was the only change. She used homemade blackberry jam. The jam adds a moistness that is uniquely special.
We ate it straight from the fridg the next day. It tastes so marvelous cold.
Someone has to enter this cake into a contest. A winner, for sure.
Thank you so much!! I’m so happy you enjoyed it!
David Roehrig says
What serves as the leavening agent in the cake recipe?
Don’t we need a little baking powder in here?
The baking soda is the leavening agent. I used one teaspoon. You could probably use baking powder and get the same result.
Thank you for posting the recipe. I had all my cookbooks boxed away (in the process of moving). If I could give 10 stars; I would. A true Southern Blackberry Jam cake.
Thank you so much!!