Eudora Welty's White Fruit Cake

 

From the December/January 2016 issue of Eat Drink Mississippi

1-1/2 cups butter

2 cups sugar

6 eggs, separated 

4 cups flour, 

Flour for fruit and nuts 

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 pound pecan meats (halves, preferably)

1 pound crystallized cherries (half green, half red)

1 pound crystallized pineapple, clear 

Some citron or lemon peel, if desired

1 cup bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Nutmeg, if desired

Make the cake several weeks ahead of Christmas if you can.

The recipe makes three-medium-sized cakes or one large and one small. Prepare the pans, the sort with a
chimney or tube, by greasing them well with Crisco and then lining them carefully with three layers of waxed paper, all greased as well.

Prepare the fruit and nuts ahead. Cut the pineapple in thin slivers and the cherries in half. Break up the pecan
meats, reserving a handful or so shapely halves to decorate the tops of the cakes. Put in separate bowls, dusting the fruit and nuts lightly in sifting of flour, to keep them from clustering together in the batter.


In a very large, wide mixing bowl, (a salad bowl or even a dishpan will serve) cream the butter very light, then
beat in the sugar until all is smooth and creamy. Sift in the flour, with the baking powder and salt added, a little at a time, alternating with the unbeaten egg yolks added one at a time. When all this is creamy, add the floured fruits and nuts, gradually, scattering the lightly into the batter, stirring all the while, and add the bourbon in alteration little by little. Lastly, whip the egg whites into peaks and fold in.

Set the oven low, about 250 degrees. Pour the batter into the cake pans, remembering that they will rise. Decorate the tops with nuts. Bake for three hours or more, until they spring back to the touch and a straw inserted at the center comes out clean and dry. (if the top browns too soon, lay a sheet of foil lightly over.) When done, the cake should be a warm golden color.

When they’ve cooled enough to handle, run a spatula around the sides of each cake, cover the pan with a big
plate, turn the pan over, and slip the cake out. Cover the cake with another plate and turn right side up. When cool, the cake can be wrapped in cloth or foil and stored in a tightly fitted tin box.

From time to time before Christmas you may improve it with a little more bourbon, dribbled over the top to be absorbed and so ripen the cake before cutting. This cake will keep for a good white, in or out of the refrigerator.

This recipe is written in Ms. Welty's own words. It was included in the cookbook Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott

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