August 23, 2011

Jack Layton's Gumdrop Cake

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.” 
                                                                                           –Jack Layton

Gumdrop Cake is not really the kind of thing I would normally bake. But I did it for Jack.

Food is my favorite way to remember loved ones who have passed on. I feel closest to my mom when I'm making her recipes and eating the foods she used to make (you’ll be seeing a lot of her recipes on this blog). This morning, I wanted to make a recipe in honor of Jack Layton who passed away yesterday. It turns out Gumdrop Cake is one of his all-time favorites. His grandmother used to make it as a special treat when he and his siblings would visit.

Like so many Canadians, I am deeply saddened and still reeling from the news of Jack’s passing. For the past 3 years, I've had the pleasure of living in his Toronto riding. It's been so amazing to have an MP that I can admire, respect, be inspired by, and who would so promptly respond to letters and let you know that your concerns had been heard. The news also weighs down on me because it was almost 2 years ago that I lost my mom to cancer. She was about the same age, a bit younger than Jack. Both were too young to die. Cancer has become such an epidemic. One of the reasons I chose to work in the environmental sector is because I believe, like my mom did, that the health of our planet is directly related to our own health and well-being. And if we want to win the fight against cancer as a society (and also get to eat delicious and uncontaminated foods) we need to fight against pollution first and foremost. This film really gets to the core of the cancer issue for me personally, so I thought I’d share the trailer here, even though it’s not directly food related.

But back to Gumdrop Cake. And Jack. What a politician, and what a man. It is such a huge loss for Canada, at a time when we badly need his leadership. But as he so eloquently says in his last letter, the future must be faced with love, hope, and optimism. To cheer you up a bit after that trailer, and get you warmed up for the cake recipe below, here’s an excerpt from This Hour Has 22 Minutes “Baking with Jack Layton”. Rest in peace Jack, and may there be an infinite supply of your grandmother’s gumdrop cake in heaven.

Jack Layton’s Gumdrop Cake (taken from the Globe and Mail)
3/4 lb gumdrops (omit black ones)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
5 ml vanilla
1 egg
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon each salt, baking soda and nutmeg
Cut gumdrops if large. In a shallow bowl, dredge gumdrops, raisins and nuts in 1/2 cup flour. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add applesauce and hot water and mix well. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, salt, baking soda and nutmeg and add to sugar mixture. Fold in gumdrop mixture.
Pour into a well-greased tube pan or 9-by-5-inch pan lined with wax paper and well greased. Bake in a 275 F oven for 45 minutes. Increase temperature to 300 F and bake for 75 minutes. Let sit for several hours or overnight before cutting.

Man. I could have done some fun stop motion animations with those gumdrops, but no time for that this morning, off to work! Just a quick photo of the cake before it gets gobbled by my co-workers. (Looks quite Christmassy doesn't it?!)


  1. Beautiful tribute to a wonderful man whose loss is felt deeply in this country. Thank you for sharing, Aube!


  2. Hi Aube, I found your blog through a post on Foodiva's Kitchen, and I'm ever so glad I did. Your photos and posts are wonderful!
    It sounds like we're almost-neighbours... I also live in Jack Layton's riding, and have for almost all my life.
    I always admired his panache and optimism, both of which shine even in that last letter. We lost a hero yesterday. He was truly one of the last great Canadian politicians.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I'll be baking a gumdrop cake in Jack's honour later this week.

  3. Wonderful Aube! - just a beautiful post to honor Jack Layton. Loved the 22 minutes sketch too.


  4. This is such a beautiful post. I've had the loveliest time going through some of your archives tonight, here in London with a glass of wine. You're so right about how food connects us- I know that whenever I make my husband's Mum's favourite recipes, he always feels like she's still with us.

  5. Hi Isabelle, thanks for stopping by! Nice to know there's other food bloggers in the hood! I just checked out your blog and it's gorgeous, I especially love the sound of zuchini, pea and mint fritters! I've got some mint in the backyard so I'll have to try that this week. Yum!

  6. Tori it's so great to have a visitor to the blog all the way from London! Thanks for your comment! I wish I had some wine around tonight so I could browse your blog the same way you did mine. But minus the wine, I'm going to go check it out right now. Cheers!

  7. What a thoughtful post, Aube. Very inspiring. You have a way with words, media, and food. So proud that you are my niece! :)

  8. Aube - you baked this BEFORE work??? You continue to raise the bar ... I'm lucky if I find myself wearing my own shoes before work.
    Lovely tribute to a sincere individual - well done!

  9. Gina and Pat and Pam you are so kind! Thanks for the comments and lots of love to you! xoxo
    PS: Pat, I'm most definitely not a morning person, so it's a bit of a miracle that that happened... but I found the recipe the night before and had been feeling so weepy all day from the news and I just got really excited about making it so yes, I actually did get up very early and baked it before work! Probably it will never happen again ;-)

  10. I am deeply touched Aube by your writing, by the images and by the memories. You are on a total roll with this blog, it has grown so much so fast. Keep it up it is food for the soul and for the tummy. I love it! Sophie

  11. I read Jack Layton's last letter and found it so inspirational. Even near his end, he thought about others first. Not being Canadian, I didn't really know what did, but I went through all the links on him and was touched that he always worked towards unity for Canada, and that he had passages from both the Bible and Quran read at his funeral. This post is a wonderful tribute to the guy, and yes, your gumdrop cake would also be a BIG hit in my house!