The Jam Cake

The origins of jam cake lie deep in Appalachia where store-bought sugar was once scarce. Cakes were often sweetened with homemade jams, filled with wild berries and mountain fruits to deliver a rich, dense cake with a depth of flavor sugar alone couldn't deliver. 

The Jam Cake
Photo: Hector Sanchez
Hands On Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
12 to 16 servings



  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 1/2 cups seedless blackberry jam

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped toasted pecans

  • 1 cup peeled and grated Granny Smith apple (about 1 large)

  • Shortening


  • 2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

  • 2 (13.4-oz.) cans dulce de leche

  • to 4 Tbsp. whipping cream


  1. Prepare Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat first 2 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

  2. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients. Stir together buttermilk and baking soda in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.

  3. Stir jam until smooth. Add jam and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in toasted pecans and grated apple. Spoon batter into 4 greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch round shiny cake pans (about 2 1/2 cups batter in each pan).

  4. Bake at 350° for 20 to 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

  5. Prepare Frosting: Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add dulce de leche, 1 can at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Gradually add 2 Tbsp. whipping cream, 1 Tbsp. at a time, and beat at medium speed. Add up to 2 Tbsp. additional cream, 1 Tbsp. at a time, and beat until frosting is desired spreading consistency. Spread frosting between each layer and on top and sides of cake.

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