Here’s one of my mother’s best cake recipes. (She had quite a few. Many were from the sides of boxes of flour, cocoa or other basic ingredients. As she aptly stated in a letter to my niece, which included several family-favorite icing recipes, the food companies want you to buy their product, so they make sure their recipes are good.) I typed this recipe while visiting my parents many years ago, and included this note, based on comments made by my mother at the time: “From the mother of Nan Roberts, one of Mother’s sorority sisters, who served it at a Christmas party in 1949, and was kind enough to send it to Mother shortly thereafter.” Enjoy! ;o) —AntoniaJames
1 large tube cake or two large loaves
½ pound golden raisins
1 pound dried sour cherries
¾ pound butter
2 cups granulated white sugar
6 egg yolks – beaten
5 cups all purpose flour – sifted before measuring
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons nutmeg
6 egg whites – beaten until stiff but not dry
1 pound shelled pecan halves or pieces
2 cups Kentucky whiskey + more for soaking the cloth used to wrap the loaves
In This Recipe
Soak overnight the raisins and cherries in the bourbon.
When ready to bake the cake, heat oven to 300 degrees.
Cream until light the butter and sugar; add the egg yolks and beat well.
Add soaked fruit and whiskey, along with the soaking liquid.
Sift the flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Add to the batter, along with the pecans. Stir well to combine.
Fold in the beaten egg whites. (Mrs. Roberts's recipe doesn't include this, but I always stir in about a third of the whites to lighten the batter before folding the rest.)
Bake in a large, generously buttered tube pan for three hours, or in two loaf pans lined with parchment (make a sling coming up the two long sides) and well buttered at the ends, for about 1 ½ hours, or until a tester comes clean.
Let cool thoroughly. Wrap in cheesecloth soaked in whiskey and store in a tightly covered container.
Slices best when cold.
N.B. You can use dried cherries instead of candied cherries, if you like. I typically use only 3/4 pound of dried, and add ¼ cup of whiskey, as the dried cherries will absorb more than the candied ones. Next summer, I hope to make my own candied cherries, having recently stumbled on an appealing and reliable recipe for doing so in the first “Tartine” cookbook.
Also, if you don’t own a sifter and don’t care to buy one, try to borrow one to use when making this. With this much flour to be sifted twice, it’s well worth using a sifter and not a sieve, as many seem wont to do these days.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)