This was a standard of the 19th-century American baking repertoire and deserves to be better known again. I came across the recipe so many times during a several month period—mostly in 19th- and early 20th-century handwritten manuscript cookbooks—that my curiosity got the better of me and I sat down with as many versions of the recipe as I could find and compared them. Only the more recent versions called for the cocoa, which imparts a very subtle flavor and a bit of color to the batter. Aside from that, most of the recipes were quite similar. The seedless jam is my innovation— I think it’s a little better than chomping down on those enormous blackberry seeds.
If you bake this cake during blackberry season, serve it with some sugared blackberries on the side.
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.
© 2008 Nick Malgieri. All rights reserved.