Let Them Eat (Christmas) Cake

By Rose Ann Sinay

Let Them Eat (Christmas) Cake

“Mom, do you think the Christmas cake is appropriate to bring to an adult dinner party?” my daughter asked during our phone conversation, two weeks before Christmas.

“Of course,” I said. It’s the perfect holiday dessert.” But I knew what she meant. It was “our” special cake that we’d been making together since she was five. It was a tradition. Although we loved it, the ingredients and method of creating it might not appeal to sophisticated, grown up tastes. I have to admit, had I known what it was made of before tasting the cake, I wouldn’t have tried it.

The basic recipe had come from a co-worker who had placed the sweet treat in the lounge for all the employees to enjoy. Layers of thin, moist cake, separated by red and green, fruit flavored fillings were covered with white cream. Not only was it delicious, it looked like the expensive Yule logs in the specialty food catalogs – the ones that you would be proud to send as gifts and would be excited to receive in the mail. I asked her for the recipe, even though I doubted that I would have the time or patience to make it.

When she gave me the from the kitchen of Anna index card, I was sure she had made a mistake. Five ingredients…no baking? Not possible. She assured me that it was truly that easy.

I re-read the directions, ticking off the few items that I needed. This could be the perfect mother/daughter holiday project. My five-year-old loved helping in the kitchen. I often gave her a bowl with something to mix while I cooked. Successful cake or not, she would have a great time playing with food.

That first year, we made one log. It wasn’t quite as elegant as Anna’s had been, but it was a hit with the family. My husband and son had watched us make it, so they took tentative bites of the dessert before gobbling the rest.

The next year, we made two cakes: one to take to a relative’s holiday party, the other for our Christmas celebration. My daughter was so proud as she sprinkled the finishing touches – sparkling red and green sugar crystals – over her very own, snow white masterpiece.

Every year we added to, changed, and experimented with the ingredients. We competed with each other to create the fanciest, tastiest cake. Some years were better than others; it didn’t matter. It was an evolving recipe.

So now that we live too many hours away to make the Christmas cake together, could we continue our tradition? Would she be crushed if someone at the friend’s dinner party took a bite and fed the rest to the dog?

I decided that I, too, would make the colorful confection and take it to a social gathering in our community. My daughter and I picked a day and time to “bake” together while we talked on the phone. We would both go outside out our circle of comfort and share with our friends.

How did it turn out? Did everybody like it as much as we do, or did the dog get fat?

I am giving you “our” recipe. Grab someone you love, have some fun and find out for yourself. Create a cake and make it your own!

The Christmas Cake

  • 1 box graham crackers
  • Water
  • *1 small box cherry gelatin
  • *1 small box lime gelatin
  • 2½ cups natural applesauce, divided
  • 1 large tub whipped topping
  • Maraschino cherries (optional)
  • Candy spearmint leaves (optional)
  • *can be made with sugar-free gelatin

Mix 1¼ cups of applesauce with 1 package of cherry gelatin in a bowl. (Reserve 1 tablespoon of the dry powder for decoration.) Mix the lime gelatin (less one tablespoon) with 1¼ cups applesauce in another bowl. Place two graham crackers (two sections each) end to end on a flat, oval plate. With a pastry brush, quickly whisk the tops with water (don’t saturate) and then spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the red gelatin/applesauce mixture on top covering the entire cracker (it should not be a thick layer.) Top with 2 more crackers and repeat the steps: brush with water and spread the green mixture. Continue stacking crackers and alternating fillings until your cake is tall enough, or you run out of crackers. Completely cover the log with all the whipped topping. Use the back of a large spoon to sweep topping into snow peaks all over the cake.

Insert tooth picks or dry spaghetti pieces on the ends and middle of cake. Wrap loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.

Place a few Maraschino cherries at the base and top corner. Slice a few candy spearmint leaves in half and place around cherries.

Just before cutting it into thin slices, sprinkle the saved dry gelatin powder lightly over the top in thick, alternating stripes of red and green.

Variations for next year’s cake: add layers of vanilla pudding or cream cheese mixed with whipped topping and a little confectionery sugar. Use your imagination.

This dessert should take an entire Christmas holiday to create: fifteen minutes to put the cake together and the rest to spend enjoying it with friends and family.

Merry Christmas to all!

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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8 Responses to “Let Them Eat (Christmas) Cake”

  1. Colleen Wenthen says:

    Great story and great cake! Thanks for sharing the memories and the recipe.

  2. Tammy Rohlf says:

    What wonderful memories and a lovely Christmas tradition to share with your daughter no matter how far away you are from each other.

  3. Betsy Bergstrom says:

    What a great story. I am so glad you share it on facebook so we can all enjoy. I love your writing.

  4. Rose.
    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story. It does not matter how far away our children are as long as you have such wonderful memories to share. I loved it !!

  5. Diane Lindamood says:

    Rose Ann,
    Enjoyed the story. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Anxious to make the cake and I am going to pass it on to my daughter so she and her daughters can make the cake together!!

  6. BJ Hale says:

    Ro….love it…thanks for sharing!!!! Your stories always make me feel warm inside :)

  7. Judy vasile says:

    No daughters but lots of granddaughters to try this cake. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Jacqueline Stowe-Davis says:

    I am always looking for different things to make with my granddaughter. Making crafts to cooking and decorating our home for the holidays. I hope she cherishes the memories she and I are making as much as I do. I am in love with your stories.

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