Kentucky Jam Cake with Caramel Icing!

Jam cake is just synonymous with Christmas for most of us who grew up in Kentucky and I am sure in many of the other southeastern states.  My mother used to make one every year in the week or so before Christmas. 

 It was always a special cake that I looked forward to, but it really wasn't as much the cake I loved, but the caramel icing.  Caramel icing is just the best thing you ever put in your mouth.   This cake only gets made at Christmas by most folks as far as I know and if you have ever made one, you know why.

This particular jam cake recipe came from my sister-in-law and she got it from her sister-in-law. I don't know how old the recipe is, but I know it's been around for many, many years.  It's the best jam cake recipe I have ever eaten. 

 It is a really moist cake and it just seems to get moister each day as long as you keep it wrapped tightly.  It does have quite a few ingredients, so here is what you will need:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated  (the beaten whites go in last)
2  1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 jar prune baby food
1 cup blackberry jam
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1/2 cup pineapple jam
1/2 cup cherry preserves
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and shortening together.  Add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks. 

 Place egg whites in a separate bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.  You fold these in at the end.  Sift together the flour, soda and salt. 

Mix in all of the jams, the prune baby food and the seasonings. 

Alternately mix in the flour and buttermilk.  Don't over mix, just basically incorporate it all.  Stir in the chopped pecans. Finally fold in the beaten egg whites. 

Prepare 3 nine inch cake pans by lining them with parchment or wax paper.  Spray the insides well with nonstick cooking spray.  This cake has a tendency to stick because of all of the jam in it, so be sure to line the pans and don't skip that step.

Evenly distribute the batter between the pans and shake the pans around to get any air out. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.  Remove and cool completely before icing. 

Caramel Icing

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cream ( I used half and half and it worked fine)
1/4/ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. of powdered sugar

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan on the stove and dissolve brown sugar in it.  Add the cream and salt.  Bring up to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and beat in the sugar and the vanilla. You need to use an electric mixer for this.  If it seems too thick add 1 Tbs. cream at a time until it's where you want it.

Immediately stack and frost cake.  You have to move fast, because this icing will start to thicken.  It's best if you keep it on some low heat or in a pan of hot water as you work with it.  If it starts to get too thick to work with heat it a little and add a dash of cream.


  1. Wow! :-) I have never heard of Jam Cake! :-) I'll have to try it out! :-) Merry Christmas!

  2. I have never heard of Jam cake either But willing to print off this recipe and give it a try
    A Great Big Thank you I love old vintage things to!!!

  3. How many days does this need to sit before eating? My mother used to make jam cakes each year but I never fully appreciated them until she didn't make them anymore :-( I do remember her making them several days before Christmas and wrapping them up with plastic wrap. She would scold me for even looking at them with tempting eyes and say that the cake was not "ready" yet. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!
    Cindy B.

  4. My Dad made Jam Cake from a slightly different recipe ( and yes he was from Kentucky) his mother taught him and she got the recipe from an aunt. Granmaw would make them before Christmas and freeze the layers wrapped in foil then let them thaw and ice it with the "Burnt Sugar Icing" she said freezing it made it moister. The frozen layers were great without the icing with ice cream!

  5. My mother used to make this every year. Loved It. I have never made one but I might have to try this.

  6. When I was little( before school age) my babysitter made a cake like this every Christmas. I remember her wrapping it up and keeping it in a cold bedroom without heat. My 5 year old mind remembers her calling it an “amalgamation cake” maybe she was saying conglomeration. Does this ring a bell with anyone? I am 67.

    1. The "Amalgamation Cake" is similar, but not exactly the same as a Jam Cake.



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