The Many Layered Jam Cake is one rich cake. After trying it once, this recipe goes into my permanent rotation for entertaining. A bit more involved than an everyday cake, Many Layered Jam Cake definitely tastes like more than a sum of its parts. This is a delicious, decadent cake for your next vintage gathering.
The original 1920s recipe called for two different types of marmalade. It didn’t mean sweet orange marmalade and another sweet orange marmalade. This recipe calls for orange marmalade and lemon marmalade. Or maybe orange and lime. Even a sweet orange and a tart orange would be good.
In search of marmalade…
I couldn’t find any of that locally. My area sells sweet orange marmalade. Period. While I don’t live in the middle of nowhere, I also don’t reside in a large metropolis. But the three groceries I checked all offered sweet orange marmalade and nothing else.
If you want to try this with other flavors, you may be reduced to making your own marmalade. Any citrus fruit can be turned into marmalade. Oranges, lemons, limes, even grapefruit marmalade can be successful. Here’s a recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade by the Ball Company. The Ball Company that makes canning jars. They know a thing or two about canning recipes, and their Blue Book is legendary. I own two copies. But I digress.
Without any other options, I made the cake with just sweet orange marmalade. And Oh. My. I won’t say that I saw taste testers fighting over the cake when we did the original tasting. But I can say that every time I looked in the refrigerator a little more of it was missing. Even the Resident Fruit Hater at my house loved it.
I made the Many Layered Jam Cake with gluten free flour because that’s what I have to use. The original recipe was written for ordinary cake flour. (To substitute regular flour for cake flour you simply measure a cup and then remove 2 tablespoons of flour from the measuring cup. Then, if you like, stir in 2 Tablespoons cornstarch to make up your full cup of flour.)
This cake is baked in layers. I used a 1/2 cup measure and ended up with seven very thin layers that baked in 12 – 14 minutes apiece. Once baked, I flipped them out of the pan and let them cool. And you know what? Cake layers that are only 1/4-inch thick cool really quickly. In less than half an hour after baking all the layers I was ready to assemble the cake.
Loose and fluffy
I used wax paper in the bottom of the pans to make removal easy. Changing the paper lining with each layer works best. Or simply grease and flour your pans really well so the layers don’t stick.
Confession: the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder. I swear I don’t remember putting that in. If you use the baking powder, your layers will probably rise a bit more than mine did, and taste less dense. Either way, this Many Layered Jam Cake is amazing.
Using only one type of marmalade, it took most of a jar to assemble the seven layers. A thin spread of marmalade goes between each layer. Then top the assembled cake with a nice sprinkle of powdered sugar. It’s so rich that it doesn’t need more than that. Icing would not only be overkill, but it would dull the citrus flavors of the rest of the cake.
If the weather’s warm, enjoy your cake with a nice glass of iced coffee. I wrote about iced coffee in the 1920s in this blog post.
Many Layered Jam Cake
- Electric mixer
- 8-inch cake pans
- cooling rack
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1¾ cups cake flour works fine with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 baking flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp lemon peel, grated
- 1 jar marmalade or two kinds if you can find them
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar you won't use it all; this is to spinkle on the cake top. I used about a tablespoon in a tea strainer.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prepare two round or oval cake pans. (The small oval cake pans in the photo are made by Wilton and available to go with their Level 2 or Level 3 cake decorating class materials.) Either grease and flour the pans liberally, or cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan, grease the bottom of the pan lightly, stick the paper to the pan, and then grease the paper.
- Stir the flour and the baking powder together in a small bowl.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar, unbeaten eggs, flour/baking powder mixture, and the lemon peel. Mix together slowly for one minute, and then beat on medium speed for two minutes. The mixture should turn a light yellow.
- Place 1/2 cup of the cake mixture into each pan, and smooth it down until it forms an even layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until done.
- After you remove the cake layers from the oven, let them rest a minute and then loosen them with a metal spatula or something similar (don't use a rubber spatula that will melt from the heat). Turn each layer carefully onto a cooling surface like a cake cooling rack. Let them cool for 20 minutes or so.
- Repeat the baking and cooling until you are out of batter. You should get 6 – 8 layers. I got seven, with the last layer a bit thicker than the others. I used it as the bottom layer to provide stability.
- Once your layers are cool, assemble them. Between each layer, spread a thin layer of marmalade. If you have two types of marmalade, alternate flavors with each layer. Top your cake with a healthy sprinkle of powdered sugar. Refrigerate until needed, and then let it come back to room temperature before cutting.