Growing up, December meant lots of baking. My Mom had several different cakes that she only baked once a year and that was Christmastime. The Kemac stove was filled with wood, the kitchen was at least  102 degrees and not a single window opened. 

Controlling the temperature in a wood heated oven is a real art. One stick of wood can make the difference between 250 degrees and 500 degrees. Mom may have used margarine and artificial vanilla the rest of the year — but not for Christmas cakes.  Only the finest ingredients would suffice. It was the only time of the year that Mom used her little Sunbeam hand mixer. Each cake was baked, wrapped in several layers of tin foil and placed in the freezer with strict orders to Dad and the rest of us, “Do not touch these cakes until I say so!” As it grew nearer to the 25th, mom softened and started to bring them out.  I am the first to admit that we practiced no self-control and kept eating one more sliver until we made ourselves sick.

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There were so many choices: pound cake, Dad’s favourite, gumdrop cake, marble cake, applesauce cake, light fruitcake, dark fruitcake, war cake, sultana cake, Tom and Jerry Cake and my all-time favourite, coconut cake. She made more than one of the more popular cakes. Icing was a no-no, but I now believe a big scoop of ice cream would have added a nice touch. Just for old time’s sake, I would like to share Mom’s “Tom and Jerry Cake Recipe” with you.  Does anybody know how it got its name?  My husband could never remember its name and usually referred to it as “Bert and Ernie Cake.” It was worth it just to hear Mom laugh.

Sarah Roache’s Tom & Jerry Cake Recipe

Tom’s Layer                          Jerry’s Layer
1 cup butter                            2 TBSP vanilla
2 cups white sugar                1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup milk                               1/2 tsp cloves
3 large eggs                            1 cup raisins
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Divide Tom’s batter in half and add Jerry’s
ingredients to one half.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a tube pan.
Place the spiced half on bottom.
Top with the white batter.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 60 – 75 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.


As we approach Christmas, I urge you to reach out to the widowed, lonely, mentally ill, poor and just plain grumpy.  Invite them to share in your Christmas traditions.  It would be a perfect gift, just the right size, shape and colour, doesn’t need dusting and has no expiry date.  It is also a gift that would be forever cherished.

Merry Christmas from our Kitchen to Yours!