Gumdrop Cake

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

This is one of my all-time favorite cakes! It’s colorful and it’s tasty.  While I make this cake at any time of the year (and it’s often a staple in my freezer because it freezes very well), it’s a great Christmas cake because of the colorful gumdrops which give it a festive appearance.  It is also  a perfect alternative for those who do not like the traditional fruitcakes associated with the holiday season.  It’s lighter, both in the color of the cake and its texture, than a fruitcake and yet it is colorful with its myriad of shades of gumdrops.

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

The cake is a bit time-consuming to make because cutting the sticky gumdrops can be a bit tedious and it does take over 2 hours to bake so you do need to do some planning ahead to make this cake. That said, the method is not at all difficult.

To begin, buy good gumdrops. Hard to believe it but there is a difference in the quality of gumdrops.  I use Ganong gumdrops made in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.  The Ganong company has  been making candies since 1873 so they have a good handle on what makes quality confections! The Ganong gumdrops are good quality and hence make a better cake.  Don’t use black gumdrops in this cake – those are good for snacking while cutting up the other colored gumdrops 😉 Black gumdrops are just plain ugly in a cake and may bleed out their intense color.  I also don’t put a lot of white gumdrops in the cake either because they are not bright and showy enough. Cut each of the gumdrops into 3-5 pieces, depending on the size of the gumdrops to begin with.

The thing about gumdrops is that they are heavy, even when they are cut. This means there is a possibility they could fall to the bottom of the cake with the top half or more of the cake having few, if any, gumdrops.  To counter this issue, make sure the gumdrops are well dredged (floured).  Dredging means some of the flour called for in the recipe is used to coat the cut sticky edges of the gumdrops so they don’t all stick to each other and fall, with their collected weight, to the bottom of the cake.

DSCN1900

To dredge the gumdrops, simply place the cut gumdrops in a bowl and add a small amount of flour.  By spoon or by hand, toss the gumdrops in the flour, making sure the cut side of each gumdrop is well floured.

The other tip to avoid ‘falling gumdrops’ is to only use a reasonable amount in the recipe. It’s tempting to add lots and lots more  gumdrops; however, those add weight to the cake and they will likely all get together and congregate to have a party at the bottom of the cake.  This cake has a light batter so it doesn’t have the power to hold up a lot of heavy gumdrops. I use 1 pound of gumdrops for this cake and find it is sufficient.

Adding the gumdrops to the batter is the last step in making this cake so, when doing so, fold them in gently with a rubber spatula and don’t over-mix. Just fold them in till there is no  flour visible.  Over-mixing them will remove the flour from their floured edges and may cause the gumdrops to fall to the bottom of the cake. The flour is meant to act as a “barrier” between the sticky gumdrops and the wet batter.  As shown in the photograph below, just keep gently rolling the spatula over and under the batter until all the gumdrops are incorporated.

Gently folding in the gumdrops

You can see how each roll of the spatula brings up more batter each time until the gumdrops are finally all blended in.

The batter for this cake will not result in a lily-white cake because it uses butter.  To get a white cake, shortening would have to be used but you would be sacrificing the butter flavour for which this cake is meant. Use the good stuff!

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

The butter will cream much easier and faster if it is at room temperature so take the butter out of the fridge an hour or two ahead of preparing the cake. Avoid the temptation of softening the butter in the microwave as, inevitably, some of it will melt and that causes a different texture to the butter.  I also remove the eggs and the milk from the fridge about 35-40 minutes before making the cake, bringing them to room temperature.  I find this helps the ingredients to incorporate better and more smoothly than if they are used in their refrigerated cold state.

The best pan to use for this cake is a funnel cake pan. The hole in the center of this pan helps the cake to bake evenly without it falling in the center, leaving it unbaked and gummy. I use my large 16-cup angel food pan for this recipe but a slightly smaller funnel pan would accommodate the amount of batter called for in this recipe.

Place the oven rack in the center of the oven to bake the cake and place the cake pan in the center of the rack. If the cake starts to brown too quickly on the top, loosely lay a piece of tin foil over the top of the pan.  It takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes for this cake to bake in my oven but I recommend that you start testing for doneness at the 2 hour point so the cake does not dry out.  It is done when a cake tester inserted near the center close to the funnel comes out clean and the top of the cake is no longer sticky.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes then turn it out on to a wire rack, removing the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.  Let the cake cool completely before cutting.  This cake is best left for a day or two to age before slicing it.

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1⅔ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1¼ tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavouring
1 tsp lemon flavouring

3 cups flour (reserve 1/4 cup for dredging cut gumdrops)
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

1 cup milk, room temperature

1 lb gumdrops, cut into 3-5 pieces each

Method:

Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Grease large funnel pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

In medium-sized bowl, dredge the cut gumdrops with 1/4 cup of the flour, making sure that the cut edges of each gumdrop are well floured. Set aside. In separate bowl, sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla along with the almond and lemon flavourings. Add the dry and wet ingredients in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients. After all ingredients have been added, beat batter on medium speed for 1 minute.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and, by hand, gently fold in the floured gumdrops just until incorporated and no dry flour remains visible. Do not overmix.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and, with knife, smooth batter out even. Bake for approximately 2¼ hours or until cake tester inserted near funnel center of pan comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool in pan for 20-30 minutes then turn cake out onto wire rack to cool completely. Cake  will slice better a day or two after baking.

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

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Gumdrop Cake

A buttery cake loaded with flavour and dotted with colorful gumdrops.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1¼ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond flavouring
  • 1 tsp lemon flavouring
  • 3 cups flour (reserve 1/4 cup for dredging cut gumdrops)
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 lb gumdrops, cut into 3-5 pieces each

Instructions

  1. Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Grease large funnel pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, dredge the cut gumdrops with 1/4 cup of the flour, making sure that the cut edges of each gumdrop are well floured. Set aside. In separate bowl, sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla along with the almond and lemon flavourings. Add the dry and wet ingredients in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients. After all ingredients have been added, beat batter on medium speed for 1 minute.
  4. Remove bowl from stand mixer and, by hand, gently fold in the floured gumdrops just until incorporated and no dry flour remains visible. Do not overmix.
  5. Transfer batter to prepared pan and, with knife, smooth batter out even. Bake for approximately 2¼ hours or until cake tester inserted near funnel center of pan comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool in pan for 20-30 minutes then turn cake out onto wire rack to cool completely. Cake will slice better a day or two after baking.
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Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake
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