Monday, April 17, 2017

Sugared Jam Cake


"Don't take mirrors seriously. Your true reflection is in your heart." (Anonymous) Over the course of the past several months I have become slightly addicted to yoga. While I may never or rather will never master any of the poses, yoga has enabled me to come to the place where 'progress not perfection' matters more than anything. Considering I am a first born, perfectionist Virgo, this way of thinking is nothing short of a head spinning, 'who is this?', 180 degree shift. And almost nothing can keep me away from this newly discovered guilty pleasure. Not even the first pose in the restorative class, the extreme heat in hot yoga, or the angst causing, recycled circus mirrors lining some of the walls. Amongst my running-yoga friends it seemed I was the only one who viewed the mirrors in the same suspicious way. Until one day one of them decided to look at herself in one of the mirrors in her house before taking the three minute drive to the yoga studio. Before teasingly cursing me for bringing her attention to these mirrors, she said 'the person who left the house was not the same person who showed up for yoga'. Well, there are moments of redemption, and then there are MOMENTS of redemption. This was definitely the latter. Imagine how good it felt to have an incredibly fit, self-confident friend also believe there was something a little off with the mirrors! It felt almost as good as this what I believed was going to be a ruined Sugared Jam Cake!


For an Easter eve dinner I decided to make and bring this Sugared Jam Cake to my sister's house. Although I had never made the cake before I completely trusted the recipe. Yet in spite of reading the recipe a couple of times, I made what I thought was going to be one of those epic fail cakes. I had made one those mistakes you realize a minute too late you can't reverse.


Each of the elements of the Sugared Jam Cake was insanely delicious. The homemade Blueberry Blackberry Jam was better than any small or large batch jam you could buy in the gourmet section of any food store. The cake itself had great texture and an even better taste. But I worried using too much of the jam in the cake was going to the deal breaker. So I texted my sister to tell her I was bringing the cake, but would also back-up plan dessert, just in case. Why I was even bringing a cake I thought I ruined was completely out-of-character for me. But a small part of me held out hope that the parts of the cake would override the whole of the cake.

I could go on endlessly about the Blueberry-Blackberry Jam. It's relatively easy to make and should be something you have in your refrigerator all of the time. Yes, all of the time. There are two important things you need to know about it. First, it yields two cups of jam. Since you only need 3/4 cup for the cake, you will have plenty left to spread on toast, over peanut butter, over whipped ricotta cheese on crostini, or eat directly off of a spoon. Second, the process of making this jam takes almost 4 hours. Would recommend you make the jam at least one day before you plan on baking up this Sugared Jam Cake.

The berries, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice macerate for 2 (yes 2) hours before the cooking process begins. After bringing the mixture to a boil at medium-high heat and cooking for 5 minutes, the heat is reduced to medium. It will continue to cook for 20-45 minutes. My cooking time was closer to 30 minutes. Due to the fact this isn't summer fresh berry season and berries are super summer ripe, it took a little longer for the jam mixture to thicken to the right consistency. The riper the berries, the shorter the cooking time. The recipe called for mashing the berries with a potato masher during the cooking process. However, I wanted the jam to be slightly textured with pieces of berries, so I didn't mash them to smithereens. After the jam thickens and cools (it needs an hour to cool before jarring), divide and put into 2 jars. Hint: I am helping you not make the same mistake I did.


The cake is one of those only two bowls and a whisk needed ones. While it calls for the use of freshly grated nutmeg, you can use ground nutmeg. It also lists vanilla bean paste as one of the ingredients, but you can use vanilla extract). Other than that, you should have all of the other necessary ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator. When it all comes together your batter should be on the thick side.


Half of the batter is spread over the bottom of the buttered-floured parchment paper lined 8 inch backing pan. The remaining batter is spooned into a pastry bag. After piping a ring of the batter around the edge of the pan, you will spread 3/4 cup of the homemade jam in the center of the ring. And not the full 2 cups of jam like I did! The remaining batter is piped over the top of the jam and smoothed with an offset spatula.


The cake bakes for 55-60 minutes in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven. To prevent the top from over-browning you may need to cover it loosely with aluminum foil for the last 30 minutes of baking time. Note: I didn't cover mine. The finished cake will have a slightly domed, beautiful golden brown top. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick along the edge of the cake. If you insert it in the middle, jam will come out and you won't be able to determine the doneness of the cake's crumb.


After the cake rests for 10-15 minutes, remove from the pan onto a cooling rack. Invert the cake before putting on a cake stand or platter. To give it it's jelly doughnut finish, the entire cake is brushed with melted butter and then sprinkled with a cinnamon sugar mixture. If there was ever a cake perfect for both brunch and a dinner party, this Sugared Jam Cake would be the one. 


So what happened when we finally cut into the cake? Well, the bottom layer of the cake was almost completely absorbed by the jam so it didn't have the cake/jam/cake layered look when it was cut. In spite of this, everyone devoured their slice. They were in jelly-jelly doughnut heaven. Although I was relieved it got rave reviews, next time I will definitely make this cake with only 3/4 cup (maybe a full cup) of the homemade jam. Not only will make this cake again and again, I will definitely make the jam again.

The finished cake photos may not cause it to be one to go viral or get hundreds or thousands of likes. But trust me, the recipe is one that should. Sometimes what we think we see with our eyes doesn't tell the whole story. If you love jelly doughnuts, you and everyone you serve it to will fall deeply, madly in love with this Sugared Jam Cake. If this cake were in a bakery, you should willingly stand in line to get it. It's that good.

Recipe
Sugared Jam Cake (inspired by the Sugared Jam Cake recipe from Bake from Scratch: Artisan Recipes for the Home Baker cookbook)

Ingredients
Blueberry-Blackberry Jam
1/2 pound fresh blackberries
1/2 pound fresh blueberries
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
Juice of 1 medium or large sized lemon


Cake
2 1/2 cups (313 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg)
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
3/4 cup Blueberry-Blackberry Jam

Topping
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Directions
Blueberry-Blackberry Jam (Makes 2 cups aka MORE than you need for this cake)
1. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon and allow to sit to 2 hours.
2. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, cook for 5 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium and cook, while stirring frequently, until mixture thickens (ranges from 20-45 minutes, berry ripeness will affect cooking time). During this phase, use a potato masher to mash berries, leaving some berries still intact.
4. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 hour.  Divide and transfer to 2 clean jars. Jam will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line an 8 inch baking or springform pan with parchment paper. Spray with baking spray and lightly flour. 
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla bean paste.
4. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring until just combined. Batter will be thick.
5. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth surface.
6. Spoon remaining batter into a piping bag.
7. Pipe a ring of batter around the inside edge of the pan.
8. Spoon 3/4 cup of the Blueberry-Blackberry Jam into center of the ring.
9. Pipe remaining batter on top of jam. Smooth with an offset spatula.
10. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in side of cake comes out clean. Note: May need to cover with foil for the last 30 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. 
11. Allow cake to cook in the pan for 10-15 minutes.
12. Run an offset spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen cake before turning out. Turn cake back over (to dome is on top).

Topping and Assembly
1. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and salt.
2. Brush top and sides of the cake with the melted butter. 
3. Sprinkle with sugar mixture, pressing into sides of cake.
4. Serve and enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty cake, but could you please make sure to post a picture of a piece or slice of the cake, to show the interior of the finished product? As a baker myself, I'd rather see that than a shot of the raw ingredients or the cake exterior. I like to see how the interior should look, the texture of the crumb, etc. That is what helps me decide whether or not I want to bake this recipe. Thanks.

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