Edna Lewis's Christmas Fruitcake
Glazed candied orange peel
Glazed candied lemon peel
Dry red wine
+ 6 Tbsp butter,
Mix all the fruit in a large bowl and pour in the wine and brandy.
Stir gently and set aside to marinate for a few hours.
Butter a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans and line
it (or them) with clean parchment paper. Butter the paper.
Sift the flour with the spices twice. Add the baking powder and salt
and sift again.
Put the butter into a large mixing bowl and cream until satiny. Add
sugar and, using an electric mixer, cream until light and fluffy.
Beat the egg yoLlcs slightly and then add them to the bowl. Mix the
batter well before you start to add the flour-spice mixture. Stir the
batter as you add the flour, a litde at a time, stirring well after
each addition. When the flour is thoroughly incorporated, add the
molasses and stir. Finally, stir in the fruit and any soaking liquid
in the bowl.
Put the egg whites in a grease-free bowl and beat with a clean beater
until they hold stiff peaks. Fold them into the batter thor oughly
and then spoon the batter into the prepared pan (or parns). Cover
loosely with a clean cloth and let the batter sit overnight in a cool
place to mellow.
On the next day, heat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the fruitcake on
the middle rack of the oven and bake for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. After 1
1/2 hours, cover the pan with a piece of brown paper (do not use
foil) or set the pan in a paper bag and return it to the oven.
When the cake has baked for 3 1/2 hours, remove it from the oven and
listen closely for any quiet, bubbling noises. If you "hear'' the
cake, it needs more baking. Or test the cake with a toothpick or cake
tester. If the toothpick or tester comes out of the center of the
cake clean, the cake is ready to take from the oven. Put it on a wire
rack to cool, still in the pan.
When the cake is completely cool, turn it out of the pan (or pans),
leaving the brown-paper lining on the cake. Wrap the cake with
parchment, then aluminum foil, and pack the cake in a tin. Homemade
fruitcakes need air, so punch a few holes in the lid of the tin or
set the cover loosely on the tin.
Set the tin in a cool, undisturbed place, and every two or three weeks
before Christmas, open the foil and sprinkle the cake with a liqueur
glassful of brandy, wine, or whiskey. The liquor will keep the cake
moist and flavorful and help preserve it as well.