I can always tell when I start to feel a little off but most of the time, I don’t know the reasons behind this anxiety. A little frantic, less calm, and definitely nervy. Those are the best ways to describe me these past weeks. I can’t sit still, my mind races a mile a minute, and sleep escapes me.I was talking to my friend last night about the current state of California. From the economy to the government, it feels like this great state of mine is falling apart at the seams. I’ve never been more stressed about my job situation than I am now, and I’m sure that all state employees feel my pain. The not-knowing-if-you-have-a-job kills all hope. Going in to work everyday with these kinds of thoughts makes for uneasy work environment. When your supervisors and managers can offer no reassurance, you know you are in trouble. Toss in the ridiculous Prop 8 ruling, and you have got one big damn mess. No wonder I’ve been feeling stressed. I think the entire California population needs to pop a Zoloft and call it a day, but that’s just my opinion.
After a couple weeks full of this tension and constant insomnia, I had had it. It was time for a mental health day, full of bad television, books, coffee, and cake. In that order too. I may not be physically sick, but mentally I am way off my game. And if your brain isn’t working, what good are you?
Lucky enough to have some vacation (and furlough) days stored up, I let myself do anything I wanted. I slept in (finally, a full night’s rest!), watched “True Blood” (new season! coming soon!), ordered some of my pictures to be printed, and baked this cake. Oh, this cake. Words can’t express my love for this cake.
This Blackberry Jam Cake was the perfect treat for me and my day of relaxation. It comes from Nick Malgiere’s The Modern Baker which has totally redeemed itself in my eyes. I have had my issues with this book, after it let me down with a cookie recipe that will never grace this blog’s pages, but my Ham & Egg Tart turned out tasty so I decided to give the book another try. Thank god I did because you don’t meet this kind of cake every day. My faith has been renewed and I plan on trying more recipes from this book. I have got my eye on some of the pies, so get ready for that folks…
Moist and full of flavor, the ingredient that really makes this cake is the cocoa. You can’t completely taste it, but while you are eating it, you can’t help but wonder “What is in this cake?!” I wanted to keep the cake as silky as possible so I left the nuts out. I bet some toasted pecans would enhance the cake’s natural flavor and would work well with the raisins. If you don’t love raisins, I don’t know why you read this blog since I use raisins as much as I can. If you want, you could swap out the raisins for cranberries or another dried fruit, but if you can, keep the raisins. As for the jam, I got mine from Trader Joes. I want to try baking this cake with apricot preserves or maybe passionfruit. Doesn’t that just sound refreshing? If you try using another kind of jam, let me know. I’m intrigued.
This cake reminded me of a spice cake, the ones that I love to eat during the autumn months. But the seedless blackberry jam keeps this cake seasonal for summer. It would be a great addition to any BBQ or campout you plan on attending this summer. It won’t outshine the BBQ Chicken and biscuits, but will slowly creep up on anyone who eats it. I bet that the entire thing will be gone before you have a chance to start cleaning up.
Blackberry Jam Cake
Origin: Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker
Yield: One 10-inch tube cake, about 24 slices
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Inactive Prep Time: 5 minutes
● 3 cups all-purpose flour
● 2 tbsp alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa
● 2 tsp ground allspice
● 2 tsp ground cinnamon
● 1 tsp baking soda
● 16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
● 2 cups sugar
● 4 large eggs
● 1 cup dark raisins
● 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
● 1 cup buttermilk
● 1 cup seedless blackberry jam, (I got mine from Trader Joes)
● One 12-cup tube or Bundt pan, buttered, coated with fine, dry breadcrumbs, and sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray
Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350℉.
For the cake batter, stir together the flour, cocoa, spices, and baking soda; set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar with the paddle on medium speed until light, about 5 minutes.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition.
Remove two tablespoons of the flour mixture and toss it with the raisins and walnuts to coat. Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture on lowest speed. Stop and scrape down the bowl and beat, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in half of the remaining flour mixture. Beat in half of the remaining buttermilk, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Finally, beat in the jam, and then the raisins and walnuts.
Use a large rubber spatula to give a final stir to the batter, then scrape it into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is well-risen and firm, and a toothpick inserted between the side of the pan and the central tube emerges dry, about an hour.
Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then unmold onto a rack to cool.
To store, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage. Defrost the cake and bring it to room temperature before serving.