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Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake is covered in caramel icing. This southern cake is a special dessert any time of year and it is very popular for Christmas.

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake on a cake stand.

Blackberry Jam

What makes this cake so special is the Blackberry Jam that’s mixed into the cake batter. It gives the cake a sweet and slightly tangy flavor that is accentuated by the ultra-sweet caramel icing.

In addition to blackberry jam this cake is also flavored with chopped walnuts and lots of spice: cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake topped with walnuts on a cake stand.

More traditionally, this cake has three layers, but it is much easier to make a 2 layer cake and you need one less cake pan.  🙂

If you like spice cake and you like caramel icing, you will love this cake.

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel Icing

The cake layers are fabulously moist from all the jam added and the spices are so fragrant in every bite.

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake Origins

This is a distinctly southern cake that I believe has its roots with German settlers. It is very popular not only in Kentucky, but Tennessee as well.

Recipe Tips

Some Kentucky Jam Cakes use pecans so feel free to use them instead of walnuts.

Cook’s Note: Measure the Flour Correctly

When making cakes, it’s important to measure the flour correctly. The addition of even a little too much flour can make the cake dry. Fluff the flour up in the bag or container and then use a large spoon to spoon it into a large dry measuring cup. Overfill it a little and then run the back of a knife across the top to get rid of the excess.

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel Icing

More Southern Cakes

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel Icing

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake is an old-fashioned southern layer cake with walnuts and caramel icing. Perfect for the holidays!
PREP: 20 mins
COOK: 40 mins
TOTAL: 1 hr
SERVINGS: 18

Ingredients

Cake Batter

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup blackberry jam
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Caramel Icing

  • 10 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • walnuts for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl in between additions.
  • Add the buttermilk, baking soda and jam and beat until incorporated.
  • Whisk together flour, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture in batches, beating just until combined. Stir in walnuts.
  • Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until they feel firm when pressed down on. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then turn them out on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Prepare Caramel Icing. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add brown sugar, bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  • Stir milk in and transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Use electric mixer to beat mixture while gradually adding powdered sugar.
  • Place bottom cake layer on a cake stand or serving platter. Gradually pour about half the icing on top. You want the icing to have cooled enough so that it all doesn’t run off the sides. Let the icing set up some and then place second layer on top.
  • Pour remaining icing on the top layer. Decorate with walnuts if desired.

Notes

For best results, have your eggs, jam, and buttermilk at room temperature.
Can be stored at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 566kcal
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: layer cake

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Originally published October 21, 2018.

Recipe adapted from Nashville Eats

Blackberry Jam Cake on a cake stand.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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31 thoughts on “Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake”

  1. I so agree with how to measure flour! I weigh mine. I am amazed at the changes when I dip it out.
    Also, I use an Instant Read Thermometer to tell when this cake is done.
    204 degrees and it’s perfect!

  2. Bettye Goode

    I’m originally from KY, my mama made our jam cake about 2 weeks prior to Christmas, wrapped in cheesecloth and stored in a big lard can. This was always such a treat for us during Christmas. She also made a cake for many family and friends, no charge for her making the cake, they just bought the ingredients! My mama was the best cook in Barren County Kentucky. Mama gained her angel wings with me holding her closely as she took her last breath, with a beautiful look of peace on her face, as the angels whisked her away to her eternal home at age 96!

  3. Bettye Goode

    I’m originally from KY, my mama made our jam cake about 2 weeks prior to Christmas, wrapped in cheesecloth and stored in a big lard can. This was always such a treat for us during Christmas. She also made a cake for many family and friends, no charge for her making the cake, they just bought the ingredients! My mama was the best cook in Barren County Kentucky. Mama gained her angel wings with me holding her closely as she took her last breath, with a beautiful look of peace on her face, as the angels whisked her away to her eternal home at age 96!

  4. I have made this cake twice and every time it turn out dry. The icing turns out well. The cake has good flavor but I am so disappointed by the dryness. I could not find the jam cake recipe that I used last year, so that’s why I thought I would give this one a try again but once again it’s a no go.

    1. Tracey Dawn Jones

      Next time use some applesauce in it. That’s what I do and you can’t taste it either. In fact you can use applesauce in all cakes they will be so moist. Give it a try. Happy Baking 😊

    2. Gay Broughton

      My momma told me that I must always use blackberry jam with seeds or it would be dry. Boy was she right. Use the best quality blackberry jam WITH SEEDS. Hope this helps

      1. Tarrant Figlio

        I was about to say “Be sure to get seedless blackberry jam, otherwise it turns out gritty.”

    3. My mother told me to always use the seeded blackberry jam because if you use the seedless the cake will be dry. I have always used the seeded and it’s always moist

  5. judy southard

    can this cake be made in a bundt pan. how would it change the cooking time?
    thank you, judy

    1. My family always made this cake as a single layer in a tube pan. The tooth pick method is used to test if the cake is done. On one occasion the cake came out and cooled but was not done. The next day it was but back in the oven to complete the baking process. It turned out just as if it had been completely baked the first time. It is a very resilient cake and keeps well when frozen.

  6. Found a recipe for this in an old Kentucky cookbook and eager to try it. Any thoughts on how to reduce fat a little without sacrificing tradition and taste?

    1. The best way to reduce the fat is to follow the recipe but cut a smaller slice if you can. The cake keeps well if you slice it and up it in the freezer. Take our a slice from time to time and enjoy the succulent flavor all through the year. Thus, you can reduce the fat by expanding the time which you enjoy it.
      Using this method you can enjoy extended flavor and reduced fat. Jim

  7. My Aunt Ruby (born 1907) received a very similar recipe from her grandmother. It was called Casey Creek Jam Cake and was named for that area of Kentucky. I have been enjoying this jam cake with caramel icing since I was a little boy. I was born in 1942. In our family it was not and is not made as a layer cake. It is a single layer baked in a tube Pan. The icing recipe is a little different but it is still caramel. The hand written note on the recipe states, “recipe over 100 years old – since civil War”, My daughter now makes this cake. Seven generations of our family have been enjoying this treat at Christmas. My Great Grandmother, who began the tradition, was born on a ship coming from Ireland in the 1800’s. Thanks for the Memories.

    1. I love this story Jim. My maternal grandmother was an excellent cook and she baked and cooked from scratch all the time. I was in my teens when she passed and never thought of trying to ask for recipes. Although so many of her baked goods I think she did with a little bit of this a little bit of that! I would love it if you would share your family recipe. It sounds wonderful.

  8. This cake was a big hit for Christmas this year. It’s easy to make and a beautiful, tasty delicious end result!

  9. Can I make this with a seedless blackberrry jam? I am unsure if there is a texture difference between seed in & seedless? Thank you

    1. Gay Broughton

      Yes there is difference.My momma told me that I must always use blackberry jam with seeds or it would be dry. Boy was she right. Use the best quality blackberry jam WITH SEEDS. Hope this helps

  10. Elaine Haley

    Nope on the blackberry pie filling but you could use strawberry but it will be a very different cake. Cake freezes well and also keeps well unfrozen for quite some time sealed in a cool tin. Mother put grape juice in hers about 1/3 cup but you can use liquor. I suggest a very sweet grape wine or even a blackberry cordial. Also I make them with Pecans since the hickory nuts mom used to put in them are hard to find now. Mother’s recipe also has molasses and more spice. She made 50 to 100 of them each Christmas for gifts.

  11. Can the sponges be baked in advance and frozen to be decorated at a later date? If so how long for?

    Thank you

    1. My mother’s Jam cake recipe had a minimum of 9 layers and a few more ingredients. This recipe was from her grandmother. I’m going to try this one, but my mom swears any jam cake recipe worth its salt, had to be 8+ layers.h

  12. This is a good, dense, old-fashioned cake with an easy to make frosting. I used one recipe to make two smaller cakes (6-7″), split them in half and frosted them with 1 1/2 batches of the frosting. One was used for a 93 year old’s birthday and the other was for a luncheon.

    1. Emily Hutchinson

      My mother made this every Christmas. She made it about 2 weeks ahead and wrapped it uniced, in foil. Every couple of days she’d pour a little bourbon over the layers and then re-wrapped it.
      She kept in in a cool, dark place and iced it just before Christmas.

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