Our 1st Surprise Bake Along: Bespoke Jam Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Our 1st Surprise Bake Along: Bespoke Jam Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Yesterday was so much fun! Thank you to everyone that tuned in to bake with me for the very first Surprise Bake Along! I’d had the idea for a little bit to find some way to get everyone together to bake, and my friend Jen, added the twist when she asked, “Is it a surprise?” And how fun it that, right? Not knowing exactly what you’ll be making, no crucial decisions to make besides just showing up and having a great time!

We are just starting out on this and I’m so happy to have you along with me! Thank you to everyone who stuck it out through the technical difficulties yesterday and a huge merci to the Frenchman for filming. 😀 I’ve already made a list of how we can make it just a bit better next time, but I’d love to hear from you too. So if you have any ideas or little pointers, please reach out or leave them in the comments below!

Each time I’ll be following up the bake along with the recipe here on the blog so you can refer to it at anytime! The photos and videos will remain in my highlights on Instagram as well, with little tips on textures etc etc.

a plum vanilla jam cake on an antique platter with swirls of vanilla bean buttercream and decorated with fresh herbs

For our very first Surprise Bake Along, I wanted to pick something that was just about full proof- I knew there’d be flour and comments flying all over the place, missed steps, and a bit of improvising. For this cake, essentially as long as you throw everything into a bowl and beat it really well to get the lumps out you’re going to be fine and have a delicious result.

Now for the twist: I wanted this to be unique as well and customizable. And seriously what fun to be able to decide on what flavor you’re making (well without even really knowing it :-D). I used a family jam made from little plums from Alsace called Mirabelles. The jar had a full vanilla bean inside as well- talk about delicious…. We also had someone make a rhubarb raspberry cake, a fig cake, and a lemon marmalade cake! Amazing!

Probably my favorite part is decorating and showing new techniques. This time I showed an easy way to add a delicate green touch, using fresh organic herbs arranged in a circle on top of some creatively “swooshed” icing, using a method I demonstrated live. A couple pansies added to the top, and this guy was done!

The cake is the perfect texture, moist but dense, with a subtle flavor coming from the jam and the perfect finish from the buttercream on top. The herbs also, more so for decoration than eating, infused just a little into the icing as well- adding that, “ohh what is this?” I particularly loved the tiny bit of sage I was getting. Just the perfect amount- not overwhelming, just a touch.

Ready to make yours? Recipe below, pin it for later, and make sure to post a pic on instagram and tag me (@mollyjwilk) and use the hashtag #surprisebakealong so I can see your creation!

Bespoke Jam Cake by Molly Wilkinson for the 1st Surprise Bake Along
Bespoke Jam Cake by Molly Wilkinson for the 1st Surprise Bake Along
5 from 1 vote

Bespoke Jam Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Essentially a throw everything a bowl cake- that’s so easy and delicious! Choose your own jam to adjust the flavor and have fun with it!

Course Dessert
Servings 6 people
Author Molly Wilkinson


For the cake:

  • 160g (1 cup + 2tbsp) flour (all purpose, T45 or T55)
  • 170g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 170ml (3/4 cup) whole milk
  • 60g (4.2 tbsp) unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp your choice of jam (not too runny)

For the icing:

  • 170g (10 tbsp) unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 300g (2 cups) powdered sugar (you might need more!)
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • vanilla (1/4 tsp paste, 1/2 tsp extract)


For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 175C or 350F, using the convection setting if possible.

  2. In an electric mixer, beat your butter until it is soft and the texture is like mayonnaise.  

  3. In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt). Measure the milk separately, and then alternate between adding the dry and wet ingredients to the butter as it’s mixing on low.

  4. Turn the speed up to medium-high, and beat well getting out as many lumps as you can. Scrap the bowl several times.

  5. Add the egg and 2 tbsp of jam, and mix to combine.

  6. Pour into a greased and floured 8″ or 9″ cake tin, lining the bottom with parchment. 

  7. Bake for 30 minutes until nicely brown on top, pulling away from the sides, and bouncing back when you press on the top. Cool completely either at room temp or in the fridge or freezer.

To make the icing:

  1. Start with the butter, beating well with the whisk attachment in an electric mixer (hand or stand!). Slowly add the powdered sugar, watching the texture. 

  2. The mixture will lighten in color and become thick. Add more powdered sugar if necessary. 

  3. Carefully pour in the milk, starting with 1 tablespoon and adding more as needed to get to a spreadable texture. Whipping well after each addition.

  4. Add the vanilla, mix to combine and ice your cooled cake. Have fun with it! Get creative. Decorate with fresh herbs on top and edible flowers.

  5. Serving notes: It’s best to serve this cake within a couple of hours as the herbs/flowers will start to wilt. If you plan to eat it the following day, continue as normal, and refresh the flowers/herbs as needed before serving, or decorate the day you’ll serve the cake. You might need to make holes in the cake with a toothpick to stick in the herbs as the icing will harden just enough on the top to make it difficult. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Our 1st Surprise Bake Along: Bespoke Jam Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream”

  • 5 stars
    I must admit Molly this is the only recipe I have made of your , I really need to branch out!! But I DO LOVE this recipe, I have used it over and over , I keep writing it down and people keep wanting the recipe and I keep giving it away and I have to write it down again . ( yes I’m over 50 , I like to look at a recipe while I’m cooking and not have to push my phone button to see it , this recipe is the perfect size and perfect texture ( very moist ) I have tried to make scratch simple cakes for years and they were always too dry or too sweet or just didn’t taste good , but this one is perfect! Thanks again , oh and by the way my daughters and I were baking along with you when you did this first bake off , I was in Georgia visiting with one of my daughters and my other daughter was in Tennessee, it was loads of fun !! Thanks again!

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