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.


Sour Cream Coffee Cake {ModBak}


The fifth recipe in the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge is a delicious and simple sour cream coffee cake. What makes this cake unique is the addition of sour cream to what is essentially a pound cake batter. But what makes it amazing is the cinnamon-sugar-nut filling!

After mixing the batter, I spread half of it in a bundt pan.

I topped the batter with half of the cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture.

Then I spread the rest of the batter on top.

Finally, I added the rest of the topping.

I baked the cake at 325°F for about an hour, until it was golden brown and baked through. I read and reread the instructions for removing the cake from the pan and kept thinking they had to be wrong. If I followed the instructions — which said to invert the pan on a rack, lift off the pan, then put a rack on top of the cake and invert it again — the cake would wind up upside down.

But when I turned the cake out of the pan, I realized that “upside down” was right side up for this cake, since the cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture was on top of the cake in the pan.

You’d think I would know by now to trust Nick’s instructions.

This was a wonderful coffee cake. The cake itself wasn’t overly sweet. The sour cream added both richness and a bit of tang to the crumb. The nut mixture was, of course, quite sweet, but it was distributed throughout the cake in such a way that it blended perfectly with the cake.

This is definitely the recipe I will reach for the next time I want to make coffee cake. And it’s just another reason I’m glad to have my well-worn copy of The Modern Baker on my cookbook shelf.

Lemon Ginger Pound Cake {ModBak}

It’s day five of Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages & King Cakes. And today’s theme is a simple one — strawberries make everything better.

Case in point:

This is Lemon Ginger Pound Cake from the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. In the recipe notes, Nick Malgieri states that this cake needs no accompaniment. And he’s right. It’s a great cake on its own. But with height-of-the-season strawberries and freshly whipped cream, it’s sublime.

This is the second recipe in the Cakes section of The Modern Baker. After starting this section with the delicious but fussy Perfect Pound Cake, I was looking forward to trying this simple, quick recipe. Other than grating lemon zest and ginger (I used pregrated ginger), this cake takes almost no time to throw together.

This cake is baked in a bundt pan, which is buttered, dusted with fine bread crumbs, and then sprayed with cooking spray. The bread crumbs seem like a strange addition, but they bake into the cake without a trace.

To mix the batter, I began by combining flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of my stand mixer. I added butter and beat it with the paddle attachment until it formed a heavy paste. Then I added the remaining ingredients: eggs, egg yolks, milk, lemon zest and juice, and ginger, and beat the batter until it was light and fluffy.

I scraped the batter into the prepared pan and smoothed the top.

I baked the pound cake at 325°F for about 50 minutes, until it was firm, golden, and baked throughout. After cooling the cake in the pan for five minutes, I turned it out onto a rack to finish cooling.

I dusted the top of the cake with powdered sugar and served it for dessert. The lemon and ginger combined to give this pound cake a wonderful flavor.

We ate it plain the first night and really enjoyed it. But when we topped it with strawberries and whipped cream the next evening, we realized we had really hit on something.

Check out the other Strawberry Week entries, starting with Monday’s Real Strawberry Shortcakes.

Man, I can’t wait until strawberry season next year.

Date Walnut Bread {ModBak}

I love recipes that move me out of my comfort zone. I don’t view a recipe with unfamiliar techniques or unusual ingredients as something to fear. Rather, I see it as a chance to expand my experience as a chef. When I first looked at the recipe for Date Walnut Bread, the fourth bread in the Modern Baker Challenge, I wasn’t disappointed, as it looked like another tasty recipe. But it also didn’t seem to offer anything unusual in the way of ingredients or techniques. That is, until I looked at the directions for preparing the pan.

This bread is baked in a Bundt pan. First, you butter the pan, which in itself is not at all unusual. The next step — which I have never heard of for prepping a pan for baking — is to dust the pan with bread crumbs. And, as if that weren’t enough, the pan is finally sprayed with vegetable cooking spray. OK, maybe I’m easily excited, but I thought this was kind of cool.

As with the other recipes in the Quick Bread section of The Modern Baker, once my mise en place was done, the batter came together really fast. As I was preparing the dates, which were placed in a bowl with butter and boiling water, I noticed that the dates I had purchased had sugar added. I compensated for this by cutting the sugar added to the recipe by 1/2 cup.

The directions call for mixing the batter by hand, first with a whisk, then by folding with a rubber spatula. Although I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, and in fact used it for almost all of the breads in the BBA Challenge, I have enjoyed mixing most of the Quick Breads by hand.

After beating the eggs, I whisked in the sugar and vanilla. Next, I folded in the dates, butter, and water. Finally, I stirred in the flour, baking soda, and salt, and added the walnuts. The batter was thick, gooey, and smelled delicious. It reminded me of caramel or butterscotch.

OK, it’s time for an admission. Some of you may find what is to follow rather disturbing and may wish to skip to the next paragraph. Those of you who choose to read it: you’ve been warned. I’m a batter eater. Yup, it doesn’t matter to me if it has raw eggs in it — I always taste cake and bread batters. I’ve always done it, and always will. I even let my kids do it. My older, more cautious daughter often declines if the batter has eggs in it. But my younger daughter, the risk taker of the clan, dives in with reckless abandon. The girls weren’t around when I made this bread, so I had to enjoy the batter by myself. And enjoy it I did. It was rich but not too sweet, with a chewy texture from the dates.

The bread is baked in a 325° F for about an hour and comes out looking like this:

And it smelled so good, there was no chance I was going to wait until it cooled to try it.

This bread did not disappoint. It was simple enough to throw together after work. And delicious enough to want to make again and again.