I just finished reading Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund and am now obsessed with the idea of Kentucky Jam Cake! In the book, the cake ends up becoming the way for the main character to keep ties with her childhood roots. Remembering our Hungry Reader Month from almost a year ago, I decided to do some digging for the recipe...I found a few recipes, but not too much on the history or origins of this recipe. It's sometimes referred to as "Southern Jam Cake," but Kentucky seems to be universally acknowledged as its birthplace.
The cake batter is flavored with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and then it's mixed with either blackberry or strawberry jam. In some versions, the cake is frosted with a boiled buttermilk icing, and in other versions, it's a caramel icing.