Bakers Journal

Visions of Sugarplums & Babies

November 29, 2007
By Jane Ayer

The leaves are brilliant

The leaves are brilliant, the air is crisp, and Halloween is just around the corner. You’ve made it through Thanksgiving, and next approaches one of your busiest periods, if not the busiest: the holiday season. At this point, you’re likely in major planning mode, trying to decide what you’ll include in your holiday product lineup, stocking up on special ingredients like candied fruit and spices, looking at last year’s sales and determining just how much product you’ll need on hand for this year. Well, is this the issue for you!

For a little inspiration as you choose exactly what you’re going to offer your customers, turn to our holiday formula section on pages 14 and 15, where you’ll find a recipe for gumdrop cake, a perennial favourite during the holidays in the Maritimes. I remember many a Christmas cutting gumdrops into the required size, remember the torture of having to wait for the cake to cool, remember finally getting to have a heavenly slice (one side slathered with butter) with a glass of milk. If my mom made it too far in advance, the chances were slim of it lasting until Christmas day. The cake has great kid appeal, but will also be a hit with adults who aren’t big fans of traditional fruitcake. It’s also cheaper to make than fruitcake and requires less effort. Along with the gumdrop cake formula, you’ll find a recipe for a cranberry bread that hints of eggnog, a Danish kringle that requires less work than the traditional method, gingerbread that even non-gingerbread lovers will love, and cookies that are fragrant with the taste and smell of oranges (the recipe for which comes from a long-closed Toronto bakery).

Next, turn to Michelle Brisebois’ column, where you’ll find tips for wrapping up some of these products into holiday gift baskets that are just right for time-strapped, at-their-wits-end shoppers. And for advice on choosing packaging that fits the flavour and feel of your products, turn to page 18.


As I write this, I’m in my own planning mode: to hand over what has in some ways been a child, my own baby to nurture and grow and learn from, in preparation for a real live baby to nurture and grow and learn from, my first. I’m now 34 weeks pregnant. But, because of the way our publishing schedule works, by the time you read this, there’s a very strong likelihood I’ll be holding my baby in my arms, trying to cope through sleepless nights, staring in awe and wonder with my husband at the creature who has turned our world (in the very best of ways) upside down.

I’ve been with the magazine for five years now, started on an October day in 2001. Since then, I’ve sampled many a loaf of bread, spoken to many a baker, walked many a trade show floor, learned so much about this vibrant and varied industry. And your passion has rubbed off. I am fascinated by the magic and skill required for making the perfect loaf of bread, the one with just the right crumb structure, just the right crunch and colour to the crust, just the right flavour and mouth appeal. I have loved this job and will miss it. Mostly I will miss you: your dedication, your willingness to share your stories – and your products! But you’re being left in very good hands, those of a woman by the name of Barbara Lauer Hoffman, whom you will meet in the next issue.

A year from now, I expect to be returning to this page, returning to the post. In the meantime, thanks for sharing and happy baking.

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