I owe all of you an apology; I have been sitting on this post for a little over a week, waiting for just one or two photos to be added while I messed around with thermodynamics homework instead. (Did you know you can construct your own tables of thermodynamics saturation properties even if you only know a few experimentally determined points on the curve? It’s true! Only a few nasty partial differential equations required…)
Alright, sorry — less geek, more cake!
I’m actually not the first blogger to try to make this. Looking for a retro cake recipe for Buzz’s birthday, I stumbled across a pretty cool blog: Culinary Types. T.W. Barritt has cooked a variety of vintage cake recipes, including Election Cake, Watermelon Cake (extremely cute), and Gumdrop Cake. The latter recipe originally came from The Old Foodie‘s 2008 cake week.
The Gumdrop Cake seems to have burst onto the culinary scene in America and Canada in the 1940’s, and was promoted as a novel alternative to traditional Christmas Cake. This version is from the Lilly Wallace New American Cook Book of 1946.
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup milk
¾ cup raisins
1 pound gumdrops, black ones removed, chopped finely.
Cream butter, while adding sugar and beaten eggs. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together over chopped candy and raisins. Dredge well. Add vanilla to milk and add flour mixture and milk, to first mixture alternately. Bake in a large greased loaf tin in a slow oven (275 to 300 degrees F) [140-150 degrees C] 1 ½ hours.
Cutting the gumdrops into little pieces is boring. I sat watching TV and using kitchen shears to cut each one into quarters, and it took almost an hour to get through a bag of gumdrops; the scissors kept getting glued up with sugar and gelatin. The result was good (teeny weeny gumdrop bits are better in the cake), but I’m not sure it was worth the time investment.
And after the gumdrop chopping, they got mixed in with flour… and I realized after the fact it would have been better to have been dropping the bits into the flour as I went, rather than mixing the big sticky mountain in all at once. Oh well, I’d already wasted that much time on cutting up gumdrops, why not waste more time dredging? (Again, the results were good… just took a while to get there.)
And then after baking for an hour and a half, I was feeling pretty impatient — and so I tried to flip the cake out onto the cooling rack without actually checking that it was cooked through.
Luckily, cake of this consistency has a pretty dense crumb, and it can handle being scraped off the counter, dumped back in the pan, and baked a while longer… it just ended up being a little lumpy on top.
This does indeed look very much like a fruitcake, with candy rather than candied fruit (unfortunately removing the option of pretending fruitcake is nutritious). And from the description, that definitely seems to be the intent. The kids absolutely love it, and Buzz likes it a lot. Personally, I find it a little TOO sweet and chewy; I think it’s the squishy gumdrop consistency that’s really not doing it for me. Plus all the preparatory work made it a very involved project, a little too much effort for the result. Next time, I’ll skip the gumdrops and just stick with candied fruit bits — something everyone in the family likes, including me.