Adventures with Gumdrop "Fruit" Cake for Christmas

Gumdrop fruit cake

Gumdrop cake

Last weekend I undertook the baking project of making a GUMDROP FRUIT CAKE. I have so much to tell about this experience, I don’t even know where to begin. How did this come about? Well, my Mom has told me a few times about her friend Ruth that makes this cake for her family instead of the usual Christmas Fruit Cake and they love it. GUMDROPS IN CAKE? this sounded very intriguing to me.

Fast forward and I was trying to think of something I could bake for my kindergarten class as a treat before the Christmas holidays. My Mom passed on her friend’s recipe and I thought this seemed like the perfect cake for kids!

gumdrop cake

I mentioned to my friend that I was going to make this cake and she immediately told me that hearing about a gumdrop cake was like a trip back in time. She recalled that her Grandma used to make one every year.I had no idea that this was an “old” recipe (until of course I saw the ingredient measurements). I looked online for other Gumdrop cake recipes and I found several stories. Many families have fond memories of the Holiday Gumdrop cake.I find the stories of traditional recipes so interesting!

gumdrop cake

The most amazing thing is how much this cake looks like a fruitcake. It also smells like one too. I cut up slices and filled a container and the smell is wonderful, every time I lift the lid!

I set aside last Sunday afternoon to bake my cake. It was baked in a loaf pan so I was concerned that it may not be enough to feed 20 children and a few adults, so I made a 2nd loaf! The recipe said to bake it for an hour but it wasn’t done until 1& 1/2 hours. I have an issue with baking loaves – I seem to have the worst time getting them cooked through. I often opt to make muffins or mini loaves instead due to this baking stress I suffer from. The first loaf was really big in the pan so on the 2nd pan I made 1 loaf plus 2 mini loaves and cut back the cooking time a bit. My next problem came when I attempted to slice the loaf. After cooling all afternoon, it still felt warm inside and I had trouble cutting through. I waited until the next day for the 2nd cake and it cut much better.

I got mixed reviews from the very honest kindergartners!! Lots of children loved it, some apparently “HATE RAISINS” (and they got the “chat” about how they could express that in a more polite manner). A couple of children seemed to have a fear of the gumdrop and wouldn’t even taste it. Yes, they are a tough crowd of critiques.

In my opinion this fruitcake is way better than a REAL fruitcake! (sorry Mom) and it was a fun experience to make it and share it around. Most adults were quite intrigued by the idea of a gumdrop fruitcake!

My Mom’s friend was gracious enough to say I could share her family recipe. Thanks Ruth!

RECIPE (with my updated amount of ingredients since I am not good with a pound)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of raisins (boil them in water for 5 minutes and then drain them)
  • 1 cup of applesauce
  • 2 cups of Jumbo Gumdrops cut into quarters.  ** Do not use the black ones
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda (dissolved in 1 tbsp. of hot water)

Directions

  • Cream the butter and sugar and add in the beaten eggs and only 1 cup of the flour gradually.
  • Use the 2nd cup of flour to add to the gumdrops to coat them.
  • Add the applesauce, raisins and remaining flour, salt and the gumdrops.
  • Add the baking soda last.
  • Stir and pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 350’F for an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Let cool completely before slicing!!

Gumdrop cake

Gumdrop cake

Gumdrop cake

Gumdrop cake

Gumdrop cake

Snow came to town last night and surprisingly (NOT) it was my Daughter’s travel day. She has had the worst luck in flying from Ontario, Canada to Kansas in the 2 years we have been here. Thankfully she got here fine and our drive through the blowy snow to the airport went okay too. ( I say our Canadian winter driving skills give us an edge over the locals) Now this morning I am up and there is a light covering of snow, which will look pretty when the sun comes up. I am dressed in my pyjamas and ready for the day. Yes, you heard that right! Today is our GRINCH feast and pyjama party in Kindergarten.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my Gumdrop cake story and enjoy this busy time of year!

Christmas Tree in Branson Landing

Branson, Missouri

I shared all my photographs from Silver Dollar City in Branson on Friday and I just had to share a few more photos. I love this tree in Branson Landing, Missouri. We were there on a beautiful sunny and warm day and the atmosphere was wonderful.

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri during the holidays is a beautiful place to visit.

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

I took this fellow’s photo last year, if you recognize him, but I couldn’t resist taking it again!

Branson, Missouri

I can hardly believe its December the 15th! Christmas is coming so quickly. This week our older children will come to town which is pretty exciting! We are hoping for good weather for their travels. I spent yesterday making ‘GUMDROP “FRUIT”CAKE to take as my Christmas treat for my kindergarten class to enjoy. I have never made it before (why do I do that to myself?) and it ended up to be a bit of a bigger production than I expected. I hope to be able to share it with you this week … if I do not get too crazy busy!!

I am off to work, the land of lots of small, EXCITED, slightly possessed with visions of Christmas, but sweet, children… Wish me luck.

Photography to get you in the Christmas Spirit from Silver Dollar City!

from Branson Missouri

Branson, Missouri

During the Thanksgiving holiday we took the opportunity to take our foreign exchange student to Branson, Missouri. We went there last year too but my Daughter thought it was such a fun spot, we should go back again. We lucked into a great condo rental for a great price and we did all different things on this trip. If you would like to see the photographs that I took last year, click on this link.

We went to Silver Dollar City which is a big theme park that turns into Christmas starting at Thanksgiving. We paid a bit more to have a 2 day pass and that turned out to be a brilliant idea. On our first evening in town, we went to walk around the see the lights. Silver Dollar City has over 5 million holiday lights!! We then returned the day after Thanksgiving when the park opened to enjoy it in the daylight. We saw a wonderful Broadway like production of a Christmas Carol. It was really fantastic!

I hadn’t planned on taking photographs, but I couldn’t resist all of the fun Christmas decor I saw as we walked along.

Branson, Missouri

These baskets lined the way across a bridge.

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

I am not even sure what this building is used for, but I thought it was so adorable.

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

This Christmas tree is a main attraction. We first saw it in the dark, covered in lights that turned colours and patterns to music. We were amazed when we came back in the daytime to see how beautiful it was at that time of day too.

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

If you take a trip to Branson at the holidays, you can’t help but leave with a little Christmas spirit inside you! Maybe my photographs might help a little bit too!

Putting a little crafting JOY in your day and in my house!

JOY wall sign

JOY craft project

I made this J O Y last December and I LOVE the way the letters turned out but I did not find a lot of joy in finding a way to hang it and a place to hang it.

Last year, it hung off of the mantel. I started out trying to string it like a garland and that didn’t work. The hard part was keeping the letters from tilting one way or another. So then I hung them from removable hooks individually. It looked alright as you can see but they did move around and I wasn’t sure I loved the look.

This year, we have them in a new place. We hung them from the same removable hooks, but right on a wall this time. This wall is just a small space that is usually empty.

Hmmm… I am still not convinced that this is the best way to hang my letters. I was thinking about hanging inside a empty frame. Let me know if you have a favourite or a good idea for me.

JOY wall hanging

Making the JOY !

JOY craft project

I bought the letters and I painted the sides and then I traced the letters onto scrapbook paper and cut them out. I glued them on using Modge Podge. I gave them all a good final coat with sparkly podge and then I added the little silver snowflakes embellishments.

JOY craft project

My husband screwed little eye hooks into the tops of the letters so I could hang them.

JOY craft project

As i am publishing this blog this morning, I can say that I am liking the word JOY hanging on the wall. It catches your eye when you come in the house. I had a ladies potluck party last night and the house was all aglow with candles, the fireplace, laughter and music. I took a moment and I thought the JOY looked pretty nice on the wall.

Wooden Initial Santa Ornaments

santa initial ornaments

I saw this idea on Pinterest and I loved it! Each year I try to make at least one new ornament and its always fun to search for the perfect idea.  I love to give my children a new ornament or a homemade one so that one day, they will have their own collection of ornaments for their own trees.  Last year I made each of my kids a Santa Initial for Christmas. Of course, I couldn’t share it on my blog or they would have seen them.

santa initial ornaments

wooden santa initial ornaments

What you need:

  • wooden initials from the craft store
  • red and black paint
  • red foam and felt, white cotton and a white pom pom
  • gold glitter
  • snow tec
  • white glue and hot glue
  • sealer or a glitter varnish
  • a piece of wire or ribbon to hang it

Initial santa Ornaments

Directions

  1. Paint the letters with red paint
  2. Paint the black “belt” across the middle. (use tape to mark it off so its straight)
  3. Cut out a hat shape in felt and something else to make it sturdy (foam, cardboard) Glue them together and attach white hat trim and pom pom.
  4. Once its dry, you can brush on a glitter sealer or just a regular one.
  5. Use white glue to outline a belt shape and fill it in with glitter.
  6. Hot glue on the hat on an angle on the top of the letter.
  7. I used Snow Tec on the bottom to make it look like Santa is standing in snow.
  8. Attach a small loop to the back of the hat to hang it.

Santa Initial Ornaments

Initial Santa Ornaments

We decorated our Christmas tree today and it is always fun to pull out all of the old ornaments. Each one tells a story. I always love seeing the baby ornaments and one favourite of mine is my Daughter’s tiny mittens from her first Christmas. Each child has a box of their own special ornaments that they made through the years. My Oldest thinks hers are all “lame” so she usually doesn’t put many of them on the tree, but I think one day she will change her mind! In my opinion, they are all special keepsakes.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

chocolate candy cane cookies

These are great cookies!! this is a fun one to make if you have children because there are lots of ways that they can help.

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. (250 g.) Cream Cheese softened
  • 3/4 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 tsp. of vanilla
  • 2 –1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
  • 4 squares of semi sweet chocolate melted
  • 1 pkg. (6 squares) of white chocolate
  • crushed candy canes

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350’F.
  • Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with the mixer on medium speed until well blended.
  • Add flour and baking soda; mix well.
  • Blend in semi sweet chocolate.
  • Shape a tablespoonful of dough into about 52 balls. Roll each ball into a 3″ long rope. Place them 2″ apart on baking sheets, bending top to resemble a candy cane.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 min. on baking sheets and transfer to wire racks and cool.
  • Microwave the white chocolate as directed on the package; drizzle over the cookies.
  • Sprinkle on the crushed candy canes.
  • Let stand until the chocolate is firm.

*This recipe originally came from KRAFT and I have been making these cookies for years.

chocolate candy cane cookies

You can take your time and roll these a little thinner if you wish. I often get my Daughter in helping me and we are not too fussy. This recipe does make a big batch of cookies too.

chocolate candy cane cookies

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Do you like to bake at the holidays? I love to bake and I usually let each family member pick one favourite cookie that I will make. The most fun happens when my girls join me for a baking afternoon. Of course eating all of the cookies is never a problem!!

A Homemade Photo Ornament

photo ornament

Let’s get December off right by sharing an ornament I made last year of the cutest puppy ever!

I made this ornament for my friend to celebrate her puppy Sadie’s first Christmas! I think photo ornaments are such great mementos of special events! As you hang your ornaments you can reminisce about that special moment.

photo ornament

This little pup is pretty special to us and we feel like she is part of our family too.

photo ornament

To make this ornament here is what I used;

  • a wooden rectangle piece from the craft store
  • a photograph (this one I had printed out at Wal-Mart with the Christmas border in a small size)
  • sparkly trim
  • paint
  • Modge Podge
  • wire for a hanger
  • bells and buttons
  • I used letter stickers but you could write with a Sharpie permanent marker

First of all, my husband drilled a small hole in the top of the wood for the hanger.

Then I painted the wood on the back and all around the sides with a 2 coats.

photo ornament

photo ornament

Once that was dry, I glued on the photo using the modge podge. (the photo needed a hole too and the wood and photo can be drilled together)

photo ornament

I decorated the back with my message, using stickers but you can just write with a permanent marker.

Once it was all dry I sealed it all with another coat of Modge Podge.

photo ornament

I wanted to make the hanger extra special so I strung on some red buttons and two gold bells.

photo ornament

The final touch was to glue the trim all around the edge cause every girl needs some glitter!

photo ornament

It is hard to believe that a year has gone by and Sadie will be enjoying her 2nd Christmas this year. It is also hard to believe that it is December at all! Time sure goes fast.

Happy Thanksgiving Americans!!

As a Canadian living in the United States, I am very thankful to be enjoying Thanksgiving for the second time this year! Many Americans that I meet are surprised to hear that Canadians have their own Thanksgiving. Canadians celebrate in October. Why October? well, I think its because Canada is further north and we harvest our crops earlier. Thanksgiving is centered around being thankful for the bountiful harvest and our blessings from the year gone by. The history of Thanksgiving in Canada can be traced back to the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England in search of the Northwest Passage. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in most of Canada. The Monday is the official holiday but families gather to enjoy a meal on either day during the long weekend. Canadians traditionally eat a turkey dinner, lots of the fall vegetables and pumpkin or apple pie is a traditional dessert.

I guess in all fairness I should share some information about the history of American Thanksgiving too. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have.Thanksgiving Day parades are held in some cities and towns on or around Thanksgiving Day. Some parades or festivities also mark the opening of the Christmas shopping season. Most people have a four-day weekend so it is a popular time for trips and to visit family and friends. Thanksgiving is the biggest travel time of the year.

In my opinion, American Thanksgiving is a much bigger event then Canadian Thanksgiving. In Canada, it is a 3 day long week-end to give thanks with your family and enjoy a meal. Americans do it up BIG and they all LOVE Thanksgiving. They eat, give thanks, shop, go to parades, play football and eat some more. Many Americans that I know, put up their Christmas trees too. I see the American holiday as a kick off to the whole holiday season leading into Christmas.

I have a few dear American friends that live in Canada and I have some wonderful American friends too. I love that almost all of them consider Thanksgiving their favourite holiday of the year. It is great to be thankful for a day that is all about families gathering together!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING AMERICANS! enjoy your day!

photo borrowed from: http://www.newlafayette.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Thanksgiving-dinner.jpg

my Thanksgiving “research” is from Wikipedia.

(opinions and Thanksgiving information from a Canadian girl living in Kansas)

A Baby is in the house!!

Baby Oscar

Meet Baby Oscar!

He is a ‘Real Care baby’ that our Finnish exchange Student had to look after for her Child Development class at school.

Baby Oscar

Little Oscar is an amazing piece of technology! He offers most of the challenges of parenting without the joys. ( He is not too cuddly, he is actually pretty heavy. There are no smiles and loving gazes) Oscar has an internal computer that keeps track of everything! He also has a head that needs supporting. Oscar offered lots of crying when he needed something, breathing sounds when sleeping and when he was awake he would make different cooing sounds too. The only part missing was that his eyes didn’t close. I think that would have been helpful so you could tell if he was sleeping. Here is what it says about him on the website. http://www.realityworks.com/products/realcare-baby 

RealCare Baby makes it possible for people to practice caring for an infant 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Baby cries for care at all hours, day and night
  • Caregiver determines what Baby needs: feeding, burping, rocking, diapering
  • Unique wireless ID to ensure accountability
  • Baby’s computer tracks its care and safe handling
  • Detailed assessment data is downloaded post-simulation

New with RealCare Baby 3:

  • Data is recorded when clothing is changed and which clothing articles Baby is wearing
  • Baby records surrounding temperature and reports when temperature varies from safe zone
  • Baby now detects how long it has been sitting unattended in a car seat (sold separately)

Here is Mom on duty holding her baby. Oscar is wearing a scarf that belongs to my Daughter’s old teddy bear … (no comment)

Baby Oscar

Baby Oscar’s Finnish Mom was also fitted with a bracelet so she was  the only one that could look after him.

Oscar came home on the school bus on Friday and he went back to school on Monday morning. That was definitely long enough! ha ha

Baby Oscar

I am pretty sure the experiment worked because his “Mom” says she does not want her own baby anytime soon. However, someday when she does become a Mom she will have some previous experience to rely on and a “A” on her report card to back it up!

My Mom’s Tomato Soup Cake Recipe and old fashioned recipes

tomato soup cake

My Mom has been making this cake forever! She often made it for company or to take to a party and she says she usually never told anyone that it was called a ‘Tomato Soup Cake’ because that turned everyone off. She would just say it was a spice cake. However, in the end, everyone always loved it.

She made it when I was home in the summer time so I took a few photos and she said that I could share!

tomato soup cake

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. of baking soda
  • 3/4 cups of white sugar
  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 cup of raisins – mixed into a bit of the flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
  • 1- 1/2 cups of cake and pastry flour

Directions

  • Cream the shortening and sugar together and beat in the egg.
  • Sift the flour and measure. Add all of the dry ingredients to the flour and sift again.
  • Stir in the raisins.
  • Alternate adding the flour and the soup to the wet mixture.
  • Bake a 350′ for approximately 30 –40 minutes in a greased square pan.

My Mom always ices the cake with a homemade white buttercream icing.

tomato soup cake

I have never made this cake myself and as I type up the recipe, I am wondering about some of the “old fashioned” steps. I always remember my Mom baking and sifting the flour with her old sifter, but I never do that!! I don’t even own a sifter! Do they still make them? I also know that she buys cake and pastry flour for baking cakes which is something else I do not do.

It gets me wondering whether these steps are still important.

I looked up the differences in the flour and here is what I found out;

All-purpose flour has a 10-12% protein content and is made from a blend of hard and soft wheat flours. It can be bleached or unbleached which are interchangeable.  However, Southern brands of bleached all-purpose flour have a lower protein content (8%) as they are made from a soft winter wheat.  All-purpose flour can vary in its protein content not only by brand but also regionally. The same brand can have different protein contents depending on what area of the country in the United States you are buying it.  Good for making cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries.

Cake flour has a 6-8% protein content and is made from soft wheat flour. It is chlorinated to further break down the strength of the gluten and is smooth and velvety in texture. Good for making cakes (especially white cakes and biscuits) and cookies where a tender and delicate texture is desired.  To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour.  Make your own – one cup sifted cake flour can be substituted with 3/4 cup (84 grams) sifted bleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch.

Pastry flour is similar to cake flour, although it has not been chlorinated,  with an 8-10% protein content and is made from soft wheat flour. It is soft and ivory in color. Can find it in health food stores or through mail order catalogs. To make two cups of pastry flour, combine 1 1/3 cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup (90 grams) cake flour. Good for making pastry, pies and cookies.

Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/flour.html#ixzz3JuMgcgVF

Apparently, there is a lot to learn about flour!!

I also wondered about the shortening versus baking with butter. I hardly ever bake with shortening.

Shortening Substitution

Many of my older recipes for cakes and cookies call for shortening. It seems that today’s recipes use mostly butter or margarine. Can these be substituted for shortening? What changes will I notice in taste and texture? —R.M., Wyoming, Michigan

Yes, butter or stick margarine can be substituted for shortening in equal proportions in cake and cookie recipes. Most folks prefer butter because of the wonderful flavour it imparts. However, you can expect some changes in the texture of your baked goods. Cookies made with butter will have a darker color and tend to spread out more as they bake. Using part butter and part shortening will help cookies keep their shape. Cakes made with butter can be as light and tender as those made with shortening…if the butter and sugar are creamed properly. During the creaming process, the sugar and butter are beaten together to incorporate air bubbles into the fat, which helps to make the cake texture light.

For best results, start with butter at room temperature (65°). The bowl and beaters should be cool to prevent the butter from becoming too warm as you beat it. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to rinse both the bowl and the beaters in ice water. Cream the butter and sugar for 4 to 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula

Read more: http://www.tasteofhome.com/cooking-tips/ask-the-test-kitchen/shortening-substitution#ixzz3JuNY2TVU

Sorry, this blog has become about much more then just a yummy cake recipe. Lots to consider!! I am leaving the recipe just the way my Mom makes it and I will let you decide if you want to make any changes.

Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading!