A long-time Rimbey holiday tradition is continuing through a community endeavour.
For almost 20 years, Tom Ford baked and sold Christmas fruit cake in the community, but after moving into Valleyview Manor, he was unable to continue with the tradition he started.
A group of women at the Rimbey United Church stepped forward to continue making the festive cakes in his stead.
“One day the United Church asked me for my recipe to raise money for the church. I thought about it for a week and decided they may as well try it. Seems to be going pretty well, so far so good,” Ford said.
Annette Boorman, a member of the Rimbey United Church, said the idea to continue baking the cakes was two fold. On one hand the group wanted to fundraise for the church, and on the other hand they wanted to keep a local holiday tradition alive.
Boorman said the church, like so many other organizations and businesses, are struggling right now, and they wanted to find a way to support the church during a difficult time.
“Like so many others we are struggling. We want to keep our church alive,” Boorman said.
A small group of about four women were trusted with Ford’s super-secret recipe.
Ford received the recipe from his brother, a baker who lived in Ontario. He said his brother and another man worked for weeks to perfect the recipe before sending it to him in 2000.
“I started making these Christmas cakes and they turned really good. First year I made 600 two-pound cakes. People got to know about the cakes so I started to make them year round,” Ford said.
After a few years of making the cakes Ford said he was making upwards of 1,300 two-pounds cakes and an additional 400 one-pound cakes.
Before moving into the Manor in 2019, Ford was making close to 1,600 two-pound cakes and 600 one-pound cakes each year.
When the group from the church began baking Ford’s recipe, he was there to guide and advice them on the best practises, which the group was very appreciative of.
According to Boorman, the group agreed to never share the recipe and to only use it to raise money for the church around Christmastime.
“When someone is generous enough and a leader like Tom is, you don’t want to do anything to disrespect him and his generosity,” said Boorman.
This year the group baked a much smaller batch of the Christmas staple, and sold out very quickly.
They kept the price the same as Ford’s pricing at $20 for a two-pound cake and $10 for a one-pound cake.
“This is a tradition for Rimbey. Tom has baked them for 19-20 years, he has always had them without fail. We wanted to try and keep that tradition alive,” said Boorman.
“This was the end of my 19 years of baking cakes alone,” Ford said.