Blackberry Jam Cake {ModBak}

This week’s Modern Baker Challenge recipe is Blackberry Jam Cake, a cake that was popular in the 19th century but which is relatively unknown today. I’m not sure when or why this cake fell out of favor, but I applaud Nick Malgieri for bringing it back to the modern kitchen. This is a delicious and simple cake that, as Nick says, deserves to be better known again.

To make the batter, I began by creaming butter and sugar, then adding eggs. Next, I mixed flour, cocoa, allspice, cinnamon, and baking soda in a bowl. I then added the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, alternating between the wet and dry ingredients. Finally, I stirred in blackberry jam, raisins, and walnuts.

I scraped the mixture into a Bundt pan that had been buttered, sprinkled with bread crumbs, and sprayed with cooking spray.

I baked the cake for about an hour, until it was firm, well risen, and baked through.

We ate this cake plain, and it really didn’t need any accompaniment. If you wanted to dress it up, a few sugared blackberries would be really nice.

This cake was delicious — the blackberry jam infused the cake with a sweet, rich flavor without being overpowering. And the cocoa added depth and color to the cake. The spices lent a warmth to the cake that made it seem like it would be perfect for late fall or winter, although we enjoyed it in the heat of summer, too.

This is a wonderful cake that I will be sure to make again when the heat of this crazy summer breaks and the leaves start to turn. In fact, it might just make an appearance at Thanksgiving this year.

This recipe and post are part of the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. Margaret was the official blogger for this recipe. Check out her blog to see how she liked it.

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Blackberry Jam Sandwiches with Lemon Icing {ModBak}

This week’s Modern Baker Challenge recipe was, indeed, a challenge for me. Although Kayte, the official baker for this recipe in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section, reported great success with these cookies, mine didn’t work out so smoothly. I’m sure at least part of the problem was my attitude going into it. I’m not a fan of fussy cookies, and with the mixing, chilling, rolling, cutting, filling, and icing required, these definitely fall into the fussy category.

My problems began with the dough. It only has six ingredients — butter, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon extract, egg yolks, and flour — and I mixed it precisely according to the instructions. The dough came out OK, although it seemed a bit on the dry side. It had to be chilled for at least an hour or two before rolling, although the recipe notes that it can be refrigerated for up to three days.

My dough sat in the fridge for about two days until I was ready to roll it out. Kayte reported that the dough was easy to work with and rolled out without tearing or breaking. As soon as my dough hit the board, I knew I had a problem. My dough was dry and crumbly, and neither pressing it nor letting it rest at room temperature seemed to help. I managed to press out enough dough to cut nine cookies.

The cookies baked up nicely, and while they were in the oven, I melted and reduced the blackberry jam to use as filling for the finished cookies. By the time the cookies were cool enough to assemble, the filling had set and needed to be rewarmed. In reheating the jam, I overreduced it. It was liquid enough to spread on the cookies, and the assembly was easy enough. Unfortunately, when the filling cooled, it was gummy and slightly bitter from having been overcooked.

The final piece to these cookies was a simple lemon icing made of confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, and water. Easy enough to make, it is then drizzled over the top of the cookies. Because I ended up with fewer cookies than the recipe called for, I cut the icing down quite a bit. In doing so, it came out too thick to drizzle. After trying, and failing, to make nice streaks of icing on the cookies, I spread it on with the back of a spoon. It turned out to be a bit too much icing, although it did counter the gumminess of the jam a bit.

Overall, these were good cookies. And while I know what I did wrong with the jam filling and lemon icing, I’m still not sure what happened to the cookie dough. I’ll be making the chocolate sandwich cookies and raspberry linzer disks in the next few weeks, both of which employ a very similar dough and the same chilling-and-rolling method. It will be kind of like getting a do-over on the cookie dough and a chance for me to see if I can figure out what went wrong this time around.