Mama Brown's Jam Cake

Aaron Greene

This recipe was passed down to my mother, Agnes Greene, when she was young.  The original recipe comes from the kitchen of Mama Brown, a former cook at the historic Netherland Inn in Kingsport, Tennessee.  Mama Brown worked at the inn during the 1800s as it was building its reputation as a stop on the Old Stage Road, a main artery to Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky.  Because of its location on the Holston River, the inn is the nation’s only registered historic site with both a stage-stop and boatyard.  This very recipe could have been served to Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson, who stayed at the inn.

1 cup butter
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
5 eggs, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons allspice
1 cup jam (Any flavor will do, but blackberry best)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup raisins or chopped dates
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup nuts chopped
3 cups plain, all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, cream butter and gradually add sugar.  Cream until fluffy.  Combine eggs and jam.  Mix well.  Add to creamed mixture.  Beat well. 

Combine buttermilk and soda and stir well.  Set aside.  Combine flour, spices, and salt and add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Stir in raisins and nuts.  Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans.  Bake at 350º for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove from pans and put on wire racks.  Cool completely.

My grandmother has been known to top hers with a bit of caramel icing, and this is her recipe.

½ cup melted butter 1 cup brown sugar (packed)

¼ cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt 2 cups powdered sugar

Boil first 4 ingredients until thickened.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat with wire beater.