Carol Larmon of Tampa wrote a few weeks back, saying she was searching for a jam cake she used to eat in Kentucky back in the 1960s. It was made with blackberry jam and had a caramel-type icing.
Marjorie Knapp of Oldsmar remembers those cakes well.
"Everyone should be able to bake cakes as good as those my Kentucky-born mother used to make," Knapp e-mails.
"They were always tall, level and luscious," she remembers. "Dad's favorite was her Kentucky jam cake. He asked Mom to make it for his birthdays and for packing along on fishing trips, as it kept very well."
Knapp still has her mother's recipe, but it is old and inexact, calling for a "scant" cup of this or a "teacup" of that. Knapp says she also never had much luck with her mother's caramel icing and instead uses a recipe for Hermitage Icing from "Perennials: A Southern Celebration of Foods and Flavors," published by the Junior Service League of Gainesville, Ga.
"It's not Kentucky and it's not Mom's, but it's close," she says. "With it I can make a cake almost as good as hers - and the icing is easy."
Cynthia A. Vaughan of Seminole says Larmon's request reminded her of the jam cake her Louisiana grandmother used to make for such special occasions as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"Granny Hyde died in 1948, but there are times that I can almost smell this cake baking in her oven," Vaughan writes. "I hope this is the cake that Ms. Larmon is thinking of and it will become a part of her family traditions the way it has for us."
CALLING NORTH DAKOTA
Reader Diana Boggs of Tampa wants a recipe for the North Dakota Norwegian dessert krumkake. The waffle cookie is a Christmas treat made around the same time of year as sandbakkelse and rosettes cookies.
SEARCHING FOR 'OLD SOUR'
Violet Gibbs of Dade City writes to ask for a recipe her grandmother made called "Old Sour." She was a native Floridian born in Elfers, between Tarpon Springs and New Port Richey. Her grandfather was a commercial mullet fisherman.
"It was made out of lemon juice and hot sauce," she says. "We used to eat it on fried mullet or any type of fried fish. We also ate it on other things. There might have been other ingredients: I cannot remember."
Marge Lang of St. Petersburg craves the recipe for the green cream sauce that is served over some dishes at Red Mesa in St. Petersburg.
Jo Nashick still wants directions for making robust coffee.
TENNESSEE JAM CAKE WITH HERMITAGE ICING
11/2 cups sugar
1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup seedless blackberry jam
4 large eggs
21/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
11/2 cup chopped pecans
Hermitage Icing (recipe follows)
Cream sugar and margarine at medium speed of electric mixer. Add jam and eggs; mix well. Sift together flour, soda, spices and salt. After sifting the dry ingredients, transfer them to a large mixing bowl.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to jam mixture, mixing well after each addition. Fold in nuts. Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-inch layer pans. Stagger pans on oven racks. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, testing each layer separately to ensure doneness. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Turn onto racks to cool completely. Fill and frost with icing. Prepare cake 4 to 5 days ahead; it will get moister with keeping.
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup margarine
1/2 cup milk
6 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Combine brown sugar, margarine and milk in saucepan; bring to boil, stirring constantly (or microwave on high until mixture boils). Cool 10 minutes. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth. If frosting stiffens before spreading is completed, add a few drops of milk. Makes enough to frost 3-layer cake.
GRANNY HYDE'S JAM CAKE
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup jam (she used blackberry or damson plum)
3 eggs, separated (beat egg whites until stiff and set aside)
1/2 cup buttermilk with 1 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon cloves
1 tablespoon cinnamon
21/4 cups flour
4 tablespoons wine (I think she used Mogen David)
Cream butter and sugar. Add well-beaten egg yolks. Add flour alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Stir in the spices and jam. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake in a 350-degree oven.
11/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons thick cream
2 tablespoons butter
Boil sugar and water until it forms a soft ball in cold water. Pour the mixture slowly over cream and butter. Beat until creamy and spread between the cake layers.