Gumdrop Jewels Fruitcake
This was the only kind of fruitcake that I enjoyed as a child, and still do! Instead of bitter citron, the "fruit" in these moist loaves is fruit-flavored gumdrops. (Don't forget to remove any black ones)! When sliced, a rainbow of colored gumdrop "jewels" are revealed, delighting children. Very festive on a platter of Christmas treats!
No-stick cooking spray
1 cup pecans, broken or coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon margarine or butter
1 pound golden raisins
1/2 pound fruit-flavored gumdrops
1 1/2 cups natural (unsweetened) applesauce (not chunky)
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine or butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 325ºF degrees (or 300ºF if you oven runs hot).
Line 3 small loaf pans with parchment paper or waxed paper, then spray the paper with no-stick cooking spray; set aside.
Place the pecans and margarine in a skillet and toast, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat until the nuts are lightly browned and fragrant; remove from the stove to cool.
Place the raisins in a bowl.
Remove any black gumdrops, then cut the remaining fruit-flavored gumdrops into thumbnail-sized pieces, adding them to the raisins.
Stir in the cooled nuts; set aside.
Place the applesauce in a fine-meshed strainer/colander over the sink (or a bowl if you wish to save the liquid); set aside to drain.
In another bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
Use a couple of spoonfuls of the flour mixture to dredge the raisins, gumdrops and nuts, stirring until they are thoroughly mixed and well coated.
Set both the dredged "fruit" and nut mixture and the flour mixture aside with the drained applesauce - all will be used shortly.
Using an electric mixer, cream together the margarine, sugar and eggs.
Alternately add portions of the flour mixture and drained applesauce to the creamed ingredients.
Dissolved the soda in the hot water.
Add the dissolved soda and vanilla to the batter.
By hand, stir in the dredged "fruit" and nuts.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans (I use a kitchen scale for accuracy).
Arrange pans in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean. (If the tops of the loaves are browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil).
Turn baked loaves out of the pans, then cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cooled, wrap the loaves in wax paper or plastic wrap, then store in an airtight container. (Mother placed the loaves in the freezer, removing them to thaw and slice as needed).