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“This was a special cake growing up. For us, it started with picking the blackberries so my grandmother could make the jam. My grandmother altered the recipie over the years, but I found this very old version in a letter written to my (then newlywed) mother. This would have been in the late 1950s. My grandmother wrote that she got the recipe from her grandmother, so that puts the recipe at about 100 years old. Jam cake just isn't the same without the crunch of the blackberry seeds. When I can't find jam with seeds, I add 1 tablespoon of poppyseeds for crunch.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Cake:.
  2. In the original recipe, my grandmother starts out by insisting that this be mixed BY HAND with a wooden spoon for 500 strokes. The mixer works fine. The original recipe was written for half lard and half butter (fresh churned), but in the letter my grandmother mentioned that she had started using shortening instead of the lard.
  3. Cream shortening and sugars.
  4. Add eggs, jam, and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Sift all dry ingredients and add to the creamed sugar mixture. Mix well.
  6. Add buttermilk and nuts and mix by hand.
  7. This makes 3 round layers of a 8 or 9 inch layer cake. Bake 350 for 30 minutes or until done. Allow layers to cool before frosting.
  8. Icing:.
  9. For the frosting, my grandmother's original instructions called for using the leftover coffee that had been sitting on the stove all day keeping warm. I find that making up a cup of coffee with espresso powder works well. You do want a strong mocha flavor for the icing.
  10. Mix all the icing ingredients using a mixer. It will be a stiff icing.
  11. Making layer cakes must have been common back in the early 50s, because my grandmother didn't even bother to write down instructions for making icing or assembling the cake. She just listed the ingredients and how to make stong coffee. Needless to say, assemble like any other layer cake.

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