Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gumdrop Cake from 1946

I can’t take the pressure anymore! The Old Foodie and her “Week of Cakes” has worn me down. It is the middle of the work week, and instead of kicking off my shoes, pouring a glass of Bordeaux, and watching the evening news, I am baking a Gumdrop Cake.

I have a high-powered meeting tomorrow. But instead of studying, I’m obsessed with thoughts of Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders and Willy Wonka.

The Old Foodie knew she would get to me. It was only a matter of time as she sat in her secret lair in Australia and innocently presented day-after-day of retro cake confections – Hot Lemonade Cake, Busy Bachelor’s Marble Cake and Peppermint Stick Candy Layer Cake with Seven Minute Frosting. And, right in the middle of Lent, no less. I can’t even pawn this cake off on a church bake sale. The faithful are all fasting.

I give up! Stop the madness!

And, what is it that breaks me – a Gumdrop Cake, of all things. It’s certainly suitable for a children’s party, but what will those executives say when I pull this rainbow-colored loaf out of my briefcase? I suppose I can always run away and join the circus. The color scheme would certainly appeal to a troupe of clowns.



Some thoughts about the primary ingredient – is it gum, or candy? Gumdrops are actually gelatin, or pectin-based pieces covered in granulated sugar. Eight gumdrops are reported to contain only 115 calories, so I have nearly convinced myself that this will be a low-calorie treat. Yet, as I study various websites searching for the truth about the origin of gumdrops I am stymied, and can find no reputable explanation for their invention. Perhaps gumdrops really are grown on Gumdrop Mountain. If you are in a celebratory mood, be advised that we have just missed National Gumdrop Day. It occurs every year on February 15th, which seems a bit excessive since so much chocolate is typically consumed on February 14th, but perhaps it is part of the day-after-Valentine’s Day low-calorie candy diet plan.


Should you attempt to try this cake at home, be forewarned: the directions call for one pound of gumdrops, chopped finely. Gumdrops are sticky. Chopping gumdrops finely can challenge even the most experienced chef. Typically, when writing one of these Retro Cake posts, I would imagine what the baker might have been doing in the era when the cake first appeared. In 1946, I suspect they were scrubbing the gelatin off their kitchen knives.

The Old Foodie questioned the wisdom of removing the black gumdrops from the recipe. I suspect this is purely a matter of aesthetics, as many would prefer not to find black pieces in their cake. But as an added bonus, the baker can snack on the black gumdrops while the cake is in the oven.


Well, I’m off to have a slice of Gumdrop Cake, pedal 10 miles on my stationary bicycle and find a support group for Retro Cake addicts. Have a nice day on the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay!

©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

23 comments:

The Old Foodie said...

I knew you would succumb!

Kathy said...

Although I detest gumdrops, it sure makes pretty cake slices, doesn't it? Would spraying a small of amount of PAM on the knife keep them from sticking? It's been my experience that people at the office will eat anything homemade--even a Gumdrop Cake. There probably won't be any left by 9:30.

valentina said...

I don't really fancy gumdrops but I have to admit they make the cake prettier!:) they look like the colourful dried fruits:)

Veron said...

This looks adorable, T.W. ! First time I've heard of gum drop cakes although I think I loved eating gum drops as a child. And I'm sure you'll do fine with your high-powered meeting, baking relaxes you and clears the mind!

baking history said...

I enjoyed your post so much T.W., love your sense of humor.
The cake looks very nice, I did not know this retro cake, but since I really like gumdrops I can empathize with you, and see how you could not resist baking this cake.
BTW, I baked the Lincoln Cake, just posted about it.

Cakespy said...

This one belongs in that cake alternatives to prozac post I did! Just looking at this makes me happy!!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow!!
I love gumdrops (one new word for me to learn in English, thank you very much) but never knew one could bake with them... Wonderful cake, T.W.!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm not a gumdrop girl, but I think this would be wonderful for a kids' party, or on the holiday menu. Does it taste as sweet as it looks? Did you try it out on your co-workers?

Lidian said...

What a lovely retro cake! Your post was a real treat for me, and now I'm going to check out The Old Foodie!

Terry B said...

I personally love Dots, a sort of gumdrops most often sold in movie theaters, where I consumed the lion's share of my lifetime [thus far] intake. I'm guessing the cake would be weirdly wonderful, in a perfect retro sort of way.

Rgarding the cutting, do you think popping them into the freezer a short while before trying to chop them would make a difference?

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Janet - It was only a matter of time!

Kathy - I have a couple of gumdrops left, so I will try the PAM trick.

Hi Valentina - It is festive, and I think it was invented as a Christmas cake, way back when.

Hi Veron - the meeting went well, but this was absolutely not a gumdrop type of crowd!

Manuela - thanks for the kind words! Your Lincoln Cake is beautiful!

Cakespy - the day could have been far worse. It was just what the doctor ordered!

Thanks, Patricia! It's a fun cake, isn't it?

Hi Lydia - how sweet it is! Try and imagine how sweet you think it is, and then multiply by three!

Lidian - you will absolutely love visiting with The Old Foodie!

Terry B - "Weirdly wonderful" is right on - there is no other way to describe it.

Maryann said...

Candyland, shutes and ladders, trouble, parcheesi(sp), you have me back in childhood on a snow day :)

Lidian said...

Thank you - not only did I love The Old Foodie's site, but I have been inspired by you and her to do a retro cake recipe in honor of the week!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

TW-When you open your retro cake bakeshop, can I get a frequent flier pass? You continue to amaze me with these delightful creations. Best of luck with your meeting! Bring them some cake, that should help break the ice. :)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Maryann - don't you wish we actually had a snow day on Friday! I could have stayed home with a cup of coffee and some gumdrop cake!

Lidian - Glad you made the connection! The Lady Goldenglow Cake is a classic!

Susan - I will give you a lifetime membership! Turns out the meeting group was not at all of the gumdrop cake demographic, but I did get a special request from a colleague who reads CT to deliver some free samples!

Tempered Woman said...

This is so much fun! I found you on a cross post from Blissfully Domestic. Love this blog- thanks for the fun post.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Tempered - thanks for visiting and welcome! I hope you'll be back to sample more!

Allison C. said...

Hi, T.W. -- I wish I would've seen the Gumdrop Cake sooner. Today is my five-year-old son's birthday, and while the recipe is 62-years-old, it's timeless. He would've loved it. Oh well, he got brownies instead. But since Easter's around the corner, I think the Old Foodie's Hot Lemonade Cake is in order!

~~Louise~~ said...

Hi T.W.
Took today to catch up on all my favorite blogs. WOW! Your cake looks so colorful. I posted your recipe on my google calendar so we don't forget Gum Drop Day next year. I sure could use a piece right about now, getting the afternoon sugar lows:) One of those macaroons would do as well...

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Allison - thanks so much for visiting! I can sense that you are a real foodie at heart! Happy Birthday to your son!

Louise - how nice to make the calendar!

~~louise~~ said...

Hey T.W.
Grabbing this recipe link for Gumdrop Day tomorrow.

Thanks!

Marilyn said...

Dipping a knife in HOT water makes it easier to cut up the gumdrops. You could also use scizzors dipped in hot water as well.

Anonymous said...

They actually leave the black gumdrops out because the coloring in them will bleed into the cake