Before the holidays got into full swing, I was offered an opportunity to review a very special cookbook by a mother and daughter team from Colorado, Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper. Time got away from me but I still wanted to share this lovely book. Sadly, Sally passed away just as the cookbook was being finished but Lee continued on in her mother’s honor; sharing both her recipes and continuing her legacy as a renowned cook and hostess, teaching cooking classes, guesting on TV and radio and speaking about the mother-daughter bond that created this beautiful book, ‘A Well-Seasoned Kitchen.’
Started as a collaboration when Sally had begun to suffer from the affects of osteoporosis and memory loss, Lee has captured in these recipes the very image of her mother. Classic recipes for today’s contemporary cook, they offer some old, some new, some simple and some more elegant. If you have read enough of this blog you might know how well loved my series of Denver Junior League Cookbooks are. I have never had a misstep when I’ve counted on those volumes for something new to try.
This book is so reminiscent of those. Approachable recipes for everyday and easy entertaining, in fact my only problem was in deciding what I wanted to make from dishes that included appetizers like Camembert Saute, a simple round of cheese coated in bread crumbs and fried in butter, Savory Chicken in Phyllo Packets that can be frozen and recipes like the one I’m sharing today, this Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting; a dessert from Kentucky that dates back more than 100 years. Further digging has fond yet another variation on Lemon Bars; with a touch of frosting on the top that are lovingly labeled as Nama’s Lemon Love Notes and my Grandma’s Pecan Butter Balls are included here as Grandma Clayton’s Sand Tarts; obviously a Grandma thing! I love thinking about the difference in recipe sharing before the Internet; how friends would share dishes and recipe cards and I’m amazed at just how far and wide those recipes reached; I wish I knew the history beyond those travels sometimes, don’t you?
Not surprisingly I made a couple of simple changes when I made this cake. Basically a spice cake made with some jam in the batter and then frosted with a Caramel Frosting, I was a bit concerned about the level of spiciness. I liked the unique sound of the cake but given my own propensity (or lack thereof actually) for heavily spiced cakes, I chose to eliminate the allspice. Or was it because I didn’t have any? Yeah, that too! I’ve included the allspice in the list of ingredients so using it is your call. This result was perfect for me.
I was preparing this cake for dessert to follow a late afternoon meal when I shared Cubano sandwiches (I’ll share those next week!) with my neighbors including their kids. That meant there would be 10 adults and 8 kids and as I started to feel some pressure for time, I gave myself myself a break and instead of actually frosting the cake I decided to drizzle it with the caramel frosting. The jam in the cake was evident in the slight purplish hue it imparted but I wanted more jam…so I spread several tablespoons on each warm layer before topping them with the frosting.
That effort did make finishing the cake, well, a ‘piece of cake’ but did not affect either the presentation or the taste. One thing I did notice was that I enjoyed this cake even more the next morning with coffee; though to be fair that may have been as much as anything due to the fact that the house was a bit quieter and I had my cup of coffee in hand. I love the kids on the street and have found that my long and wide main hallway is a nice playground, unfortunately part of that play is chasing my poor cat. Peyton would be wiser to make himself known occasionally; hiding just feeds their desire to find him; poor guy.
I did not finish the basement in my new home; how was I to know there would be a whole passle of kids that I love near me? Now I’m planning to carpet a portion and get some kids toys for that space, giving them a play area and Peyton some peace. I promise I will not be hanging a bar from the ceiling though to swing on like my parents did. My fall from that contraption onto my head ended in my first visit to the hospital as a 4 year old with a concussion. I literally learned the hard way. 🙂
Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel Frosting
For the Cake
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp cocoa
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup blackberry jam
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup raisins (I didn't have any; I just doubled the pecans)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
To Finish the Cake
- 1/2 cup blackberry jam
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Butter and flour 2 - 8" cake pans
To Make the Cake:
- Sift together the dry ingredients from flour through cocoa.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add the vanilla and mix in well.
- With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time, beating until well incorporated, scraping bowl often. Blend in jam.
- Add half of the dry ingredients then half of the buttermilk. Repeat and mix until just blended.
- Add the raisins and pecans and pour the batter into the prepared pans.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Place pans on a wire rack to cool.
To Make the Frosting:
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
- Stir in the brown sugar and cook for 2 minutes.
- Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Remove the frosting from the heat and stir in the vanilla; once incorporated, add the powdered sugar. Let cool slightly.
To assemble the cake:
- Dollop a bit of frosting in the middle of the serving plate; this helps to keep the cake from sliding. If you have rounded tops on your cake, but the first layer on top of the frosting, top down.
- Put 1/4 cup of jam on the top of the first layer and spread evenly to the edge. Drizzle some of the caramel frosting over the jam.
- Place the 2nd layer on top of the first, dome side up; spread the remaining jam on the top of the 2nd layer.
- Drizzle the remaining frosting liberally all over the cake. Allow to cool before serving.