I read Sweets: Soul Food Desserts and Memories last year, made one of the cakes in the book, and mentally bookmarked several other pages. One of those was the page with the strawberry jam cake. All of the desserts from this book are charming, old-fashioned sweets made by members of the author's extended family. When I get to choose dessert, chances are it will be berry-flavored or lemon or caramel, and this time strawberry was the winner. This is actually a spice cake with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. It has pecans and buttermilk and of course strawberry jam. In the book, it was presented as a three layer cake which was to have more strawberry jam spread between the layers. I went in a slightly different direction with it and added the frosting from a different strawberry layer cake on page 39.
The jam cake recipe makes a lot of batter with five eggs and four cups of flour, and I chose to fill two eight inch round cake pans and bake the remaining batter in a small baking dish. I made a small layer cake with the rounds and put the extra flat cake in the freezer. I’m thinking that will make a useful platform for strawberries and whipped cream at a later date. For my layer cake, I followed the other recipe’s instructions for the strawberry frosting. Frozen strawberries were thawed and their juice was strained, and then the berries were combined with butter and confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. It was mixed until smooth, and I learned what to do differently next time. When I make this again, I’ll mix the butter and confectioner’s sugar first and then add the strawberries once that is already smooth. That way, I’ll be able to decide how chunky or not to leave the strawberries in the frosting. By mixing them all together, the strawberries were made smooth along with the butter. The flavor was fantastic, and the berries naturally made the frosting pink, but I thought a little texture from berry chunks might have been nice.
When I first frosted the cake, I placed it in the refrigerator to set. We enjoyed the cake that first day in its chilled state, but when I left it covered on the counter overnight, it was even better at room temperature the next day. The flavor of the spices and pecans was more pronounced, and the cake had become even more tender than the day before. In fact, it was better still the day after that. This cake would be delicious with just a dusting of confectioner’s sugar instead of being frosted, but the frosting added an extra punch of fruit and decadence.