“Before the war” Southern Fruit Cake
This Colonial cake recipe makes an irresistible Christmas dish
This is the real old-fashioned fruit cake prepared on all the Southern plantations for the holiday season “befo’ de wah” [“Before the war”]. The recipe and its preparation come down from Colonial days.
Cream with the hand two cupfuls of butter and beat in two cupfuls of sugar. Add ten eggs, unbeaten, one at a time, and beat the mixture between each addition. Then add half a cupful each of grape juice and dark molasses (brandy was formerly used), two teaspoonfuls of mace, one teaspoonful of nutmeg, three-quarters of a teaspoonful of salt, one teaspoonful of ginger and one and a half teaspoonfuls of cloves.
Sift four cupfuls of pastry flour with one and three-quarters teaspoonful of baking powder and mix with two pounds of seeded raisins, two pounds each of currants and candied orange peel, half a pound of citron, and a quarter of a pound each of candied cherries and pineapple. (The cherries should be quartered, the citron shredded, and the cherries and pineapple finely chopped.)
Combine the flour and fruit with the other ingredients and turn into two large round pans, lined with two thicknesses of greased paper. Cover the tops with buttered paper and steam for three hours, then bake for two hours longer in a very slow oven. Let cool, take from the pans, and put away in a stone jar to ripen for a month before cutting.
In Colonial days, it was well-dampened with brandy after it had stood for two weeks. This amount of ingredients will make about ten pounds of cake.