Black Fruitcake

This is an English cake. It is also known as Dark Fruitcake, English Fruitcake and Merry Christmas Cake.

Ingredients

Cake:
1/4 pound candied citron
1/8 pound candied lemon peel
1/8 pound candid orange peel
1/2 pound candied cherries
1 pound candied pineapple
1 pound golden raisins
1/2 pound seeded raisins
1/4 pound currants
1/2 cup dark rum, cognac, sherry or Madeira
1/4 pound blanched shelled pecans
1/4 pound shelled walnuts or pecans
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
5 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon almond extract

Almond Paste:
1 pound blanched almonds
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract or
    2 teaspoons rose water

Milk Frosting:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Cake: Prepare fruits and nuts a day ahead. Sliver the citron, lemon and orange peel into very thin strips; cut cherries in half and pineapple in thin wedges. Set aside.
  2. Pick over raisins and currants to eliminate stray stems or seeds; add rum, cognac, sherry or Madeira, and soak overnight. Chop almonds and walnuts or pecans coarsely. Set them aside, also.
  3. The following day, grease a 10-inch tube pan, four 1-pound coffee cans, or 2 bread pans measuring 9 x 5 x 3 inches. Line with brown paper.
  4. To make the cake, mix 1/2 cup of the sifted flour with all the fruits and nuts in a large bowl. Sift remaining flour with spices and baking soda. Cream butter until soft, then work in granulated sugar and brown sugar, a little at a time, until mixture is smooth. Stir in the eggs, milk, almond extract and flour mixture. Mix thoroughly. Pour over the fruit and nuts and work together with your hands until batter is very well mixed. Lift the batter into the pan or pans and press it down firmly to make a compact cake when cooked. Bake at 275 degrees F. A tube pan that uses all the batter will take 3 1/4 hours. The bread pans, which will each hold half the batter, will take 2 1/4 hours. The coffee cans, which each hold one-fourth of the batter, will take 2 hours.
  5. Remove cakes from oven, let stand 30 minutes, then turn out onto cake racks. Peel off the brown paper very carefully. The four small, round cakes make attractive Christmas gifts.
  6. To age fruitcakes, allow at least four weeks. Wrap each cake in several layers of cheesecloth well soaked in rum, cognac, sherry or Madeira. Place in an airtight container, such as a large crock or kettle, and cover tightly. If cheesecloth dries out, moisten it with a little of the wine or spirits. Do not overdo it. The cakes should be firm, not soft, at the end of the aging period. This will make them easy to slice in neat, compact slices. If you wish to frost fruitcakes after they have been properly aged, cover the top first with Almond Paste, then with Milk Frosting. To decorate, make a garland of candied cherries, slivered angelica, and blanched whole almonds around the edge of the cake.
  7. Almond Paste: Work almonds through a food grinder or blend in an electric blender. Thoroughly mix in confectioners' sugar. Beat egg whites slightly, then stir into the almond mixture. Add almond extract or rose water, using your hands to blend the heavy mixture.
  8. Milk Frosting: Combine sugar, milk and butter in a saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil. Then boil, without stirring, until a few drops tested in cold water form a soft ball. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, and beat until frosting is of spreading consistency. Spread over top of cake letting it dribble down the sides. If frosting becomes too stiff to spread, melt in top of double boiler over boiling water, then beat again.