I'm certain this has been adapted over the more than hundred years that it has been in the USA, but our family has enjoyed it for as long as I can remember. Thinly sliced with a cup of tea, this fruitcake says "Family Christmas" to me. The females in the family inherit fruitcake-making responsibility when the eldest female decides to retire from her cake-making chores. I'm IT for the time-being.
GENEVIEVE FENWICK WICKHAM'S FRUITCAKE
8 oz melted butter
1 1/2 C. brown sugar
4 eggs separated, whites stiffly beaten*
1 TBLS cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 C. AP flour
1 C. fruit juice (we've been using apricot nectar, but have also used apple and OJ)
2 lbs. candied fruit**
1 lb. white raisins
1 lb. walnuts (I use pecans instead)
candied cherries for top, if desired
* it was several years before I read the recipe carefully enough to realize that the eggs should be separated and the whites beaten stiffly. Before that, I simply mixed whole eggs with the butter with no appreciable difference)
** delicious candied fruit is available from La Cuisine in Alexandria, VA
I have never made this single recipe, I double or triple it. Doubled, it makes about six loaves. You'll need two pretty large bowls and a strong arm.
Mix melted butter and egg yolks until very smooth. Whip in fruit juice and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift all dry ingredients saving out 1 C flour to be used to flour fruit.
Add egg-butter mixture to dry ingredients.
Add remaining flour to fruit-nut mixture and add this to the batter.
Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.
Pour into prepared (buttered) cake pans and bake 250-270 degree oven about three hours, depending on size of pans. Put pan of hot water at bottom of oven.
Cool cakes on rack. When completely cool, drizzle with brandy using a heavy hand.
NB: my grandmother initially wrapped these cakes in muslin or old linen tea towels but my mother preferred foil and kept them in tins. Because I live in the desert, I keep the fruitcake in the refrigerator during the year.
It is a good idea to add additional liquor during the year, maybe once a month or so. I vary the flavor by alternating brandy with dark rum and an occasional slug of bourbon - an anathema to grandmother's Irish heart, but delicious nonetheless.