Mary Meade’s White Fruitcake

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I am happily in fruitcake land. Once a year, I get out the battered angel-food pan my mom left me, cut and grease up the brown-paper liners and mix the fruit and nut batter. The making of it, soaking-in-rum of it and sharing of it all brings back best memories of mom.

We don’t have the pecan trees she had in Texas, but we do have her appreciation for quality ingredients and her zest for throwing parties. This year, fruitcake will on the refreshments table at our first annual Fezziwig’s Ball, the seasonal capper for the twice-monthly gatherings we host at the Pig & Weasel, our “arts incubator & house concert” series.

I like both dark and light fruitcake, but this white one–requested by reader Ray Kostura–is especially good. Developed in the Chicago Tribune test kitchens sometime in the forties, this recipe is one of the most requested from their archives. It was featured often by Ruth Ellen Church, who shared the nom de plume “Mary Meade” with other Tribune food editors during her many years at the paper (1936 to 1979.)

You can prepare this the old-fashioned way–using an angel-food pan to make one very large cake, or, use four 9 x 5 loaf pans. I like to bake some of the batter into fruit cake muffins–cute, and easy to share.

Makes 4, 9 x 5 loaves, or three 9x5 loaves plus 12 muffins

White Fruitcake Ingredients

  • 1 lb each: candied pineapple, candied cherries, light raisins
  • 1/2 pound each, candied: lemon rind, orange rind, citron
  • 1 1/2 cups orange-flavored liqueur, or white wine, plus additional to brush on cake
  • 3 cups (six sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 large eggs
  • 6 cups sifted flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds (six cups) walnuts (or pecans)
  • corn syrup

Instructions

  1. Cut pineapple in varying sizes. Slice cherries in half. Combine pineapple, cherries, raisins, rinds and citron in large bowl. Stir in liqueur; let stand, covered, overnight.
  2. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time; beat well after each addition. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat on low until combined. Stir batter and nuts into fruit mixture.
  3. Grease four 9- by 5-inch loaf pans (or, use one angel-food pan); line with paper cut from brown bags, or. parchment paper and grease paper. Spoon batter into pan(s). If using the loaf pans, place pans in shallow roasting pan; fill with hot water to come halfway up sides of pans. (If using the angel food pan: place on cookie sheet and place pan of water in the bottom of the oven.) Bake until golden and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn cakes out; remove paper and cool completely on wire rack.
  4. Brush additional liqueur over top and sides of cakes using pastry brush. Wrap in foil; store in covered container at least one week. To finish cakes before serving or giving away, brush with corn syrup and decorate with additional fruit and nuts as desired. Brush top with additional corn syrup; let dry slightly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

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