My Mother’s Kitchen: Gumdrop Cake Recipe

“Christmas! ‘Tis the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial fire of charity in the heart.” ~ Washington Irving

Mom’s Gumdrop Cake recipe is one of my family’s favourite desserts that I make each Christmas season. In fact, my family would eat it any time of the year; if I would break down and bake it on a late spring day or in the middle of a summer heat wave they would line up in the kitchen doorway with plates in hand. But to me, Gumdrop Cake is synonymous with Christmas, with falling snow and twinkling lights and with relatives and friends dropping in to share best wishes.

Mom’s recipe calls for lots of eggs, a cup of warm milk, and one and a half pounds (POUNDS!) of gumdrops. She would snip the gumdrops into three pieces with a pair of sterilized kitchen scissors—what a smart way to speed up a potentially tedious task.

I use the same method when I prepare the gumdrops to be drenched in flour. The ones that I don’t use in the recipe—mostly plain white but sometimes black liquorice ones that happen to be mixed in with the brightly coloured red and green and orange and pink, are set aside to be enjoyed by any child or adult who happens to hover near the kitchen during this preparation stage . Is it any wonder mom’s Gumdrop Cake recipe is a family favourite?

One creative finish that mom often did after the cake was cooked and cooled was to ice it and decorate it for Christmas; I remember a perky little Santa sticking his head out of the cake’s centre opening, and this Santa was usually surrounded by tiny reindeer prancing around the cake’s circumference. I confess that I don’t take the time to decorate my Gumdrop cakes, but one year, who knows, maybe I will. I think I still have the Santa and tiny plastic reindeer that mom used for her cakes; they’re much older now and look a bit worse-for-wear, but I’m sure they would still be pleased to assume their place of honour once again on a Gumdrop cake.

Is it customary for you to decorate your Holiday cakes? I’d love to hear from you; drop me a note or post a comment on my site; thanks so much for visiting.

Mom’s Gumdrop Cake

1 cup shortening
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs (drop one at a time and beat well before adding the next one)
1 cup warm milk
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon
1 ½ lbs. gumdrops cut into chunks and floured with ½ cup flour.

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well each time. Add liquid and dry ingredients alternately. Add floured gumdrops last. Spoon the batter into a greased and lined tube pan. Bake 1 ½ – 2 hours at 350°F oven; cover with foil for first ½ hour. When cake is done, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes in pan before turning out onto wired rack to cool completely. Wrap cake in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to retain moisture.  Decorate if desired.

13 thoughts on “My Mother’s Kitchen: Gumdrop Cake Recipe

  1. I made mine the other day but found it too recipe was different so the temp was lower and one less egg…would any of these be the cause for the dry loaf

    1. Hi Bonnie. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and commenting on the Gumrop Cake recipe. Yes, I think that having one less egg could certainly make the cake drier. Not sure if the oven temperature would change anything but I’m wondering if you covered the cake with foil at all? That’s what I usually do for the first half hour or more. Again, I’m not sure if that would affect dryness or if it would only keep it from browning too much overall.
      If you try my mom’s recipe this year I’d love to hear from you how it turned out! Thanks again for commenting.

  2. Good morning.. I remember my mom always made gumdrop cake at xmas also and it’s my husbands favourite cake.i’m going totry your receipe today for him. He is from yarmouth ns but i am a Newfie… xmas is my fav time of yr.

    1. Hi there – so glad you stopped by to look around. I’m sure your husband will love my mom’s gumdrop cake recipe. It’s been a family favourite of ours for as long as I can remember. I have my gumdrops and need to make my cake this week, too!
      My maternal grandmother was from NL and my son was born there when my husband and I lived in Placentia in 1978-79. We also lived in St. John’s for a couple of years (1998-early 2001) and I loved it there.
      Hope you have a Merry Christmas.

      1. I am attempting my grandmother’s Gumdrop Loaf-but needed some clarification and found your recipe-which is identical-except yours has an extra egg and tsp of baking powder and warm milk-nanny’s does not specify. My grandmother always made a loaf- would you know if this recipe would make just one loaf or 2- or one and a baby loaf?

      2. Hi Ellie. This recipe fills a large tube pan, so depending on the size of your loaf pans I would guess that it would fill 2 regular ones or 1 long one and 1 shorter one.
        Hope you enjoy my mom’s recipe – I’m making it this week, too! Merry Christmas!

  3. Sylvia, I so remembering enjoying your very delicious baking!!! And that great breakfast at your house in Arichat. That was the first time I had champagne and orange juice for brunch!! It was great.

  4. This is one of our most favorite of your Mom’s recipes. She made this cake for us for Christmas a number of times, and she even taught me how make it – including tricks for using the scissors for snipping without gumming them up, and warnings to avoid the black gumdrops.
    This cake is one of the few I know of that translates well to vegan cooking – even with egg substitute and soy milk, it still tastes moist and magical.
    Thanks for sharing your memories about this – now all we need is a photo of a decorated cake, complete with aged tiny reindeer! Let’s do one together next time we enjoy the luxury of sharing Christmas together. 🙂

    1. Good morning. I am so lucky to have found this recipe this morning and to see that it is from a Cape Breton family. I grew up in Mabou. My mother always baked hot milk gumdrop cake at Christmas time so I went in search on a recipe this morning. Love your picture of the ocean. I will try this recipe today.

      1. Hi Valarie-thanks so much for dropping by my blog and for your lovely comment….just to clarify, though, although I have lived in Cape Breton on two separate occasions in my adult life, I am, unfortunately, not from there by birth–but I’m from not too far away–the small town of Sackville, NB on the NB/NS border, so that counts, right? And my mom was a MacNeill, which is a good Cape Breton/NS name, so that counts, too, right? LOL. I hope you enjoy the gumdrop cake recipe–I bought my gumdrops a few days ago and plan to make my cake this coming week (if I make it too much before Christmas it all gets eaten and then I have to make another one!). Please drop me a note to let me know how your cake turned out…thanks again and Merry Christmas.

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