Several readers sent in recipes for fruitcakes served every year at the holidays, some with the classic candied fruits and citron, others with dried fruits such as figs, raisins and dates.
Only one sent in a gumdrop cake.
“It’s an old, old recipe but we had it every year for Christmas,” said Sharon L. Honisch of West Allis. “The kids always liked it, too, they would bring their friends home (to share).”
Honisch, who grew up in Marshfield, believes that her late mother, Verna Koenig, got the recipe from her mom, Elizabeth Schmidt.
“I make the grumdrop fruit cake every Christmas (several of them!), as my mother always did,” Honisch said. “I have never seen it in any cookbook, and no one that I know has ever heard of it. I have no idea where it originated.”
She doesn’t believe that any of her grown children are carrying on the tradition — yet. None has asked for the recipe, she said, “but they always have some when they’re here.”
Gumdrop Fruit Cake
Recipe tested by Nancy Stohs
Makes 2 loaves
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 1 ½ cups applesauce
- 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 to 2 pounds gumdrops (see note)
- 1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two (9-by-5-inch) loaf pans with wax paper.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, applesauce and baking soda-water mixture
Into a separate bowl, sift flour with baking powder, salt and spices. Remove some of the flour mixture and mix with the nuts and the gumdrops to keep them from sticking together. Add both mixtures to batter and mix to thoroughly incorporate. Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour (begin checking at 50 minutes).
Using wax paper, remove loaves from pans to a rack to cool completely. When cool, peel off wax paper. Slice and serve.
Note: Honisch uses small, multicolor sugar-coated gumdrops. If you don’t find them in the grocery store, they can be found at Half Nuts, 9617 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, or online. For testing, we used 1 pound of the larger size gumdrops (purchased online), cut into thirds. Those were fruit-flavored; others may be flavored with holiday spices.