Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nana's White Fruit Cake

Nana was famous for her fruit cake. I know fruit cake gets a bad rap, but you haven't tried Nana's. It is light and airy and quite simply heaven in a bread pan. I knew I was grown up the first time Nana sent me my very own fruit cake, in December 1993, the first Christmas I was in Washington, D.C. But 6 years later, in December 1999, Nana trusted me with her fruit cake recipe was the year I knew I was an adult.

Nana baked her last fruit cake in January 2006.
David and I spent a week in Florida and after church on Sunday, Mom, Nana and I made Nana's fruit cake. I savored the fruit cakes we made that January, each year having just a little, so that the first Christmas Nana wasn't with us anymore, she'd still be with us. I still have part of one fruitcake that I guess we'll finish this Christmas.

I'll be making Nana's White Fruit Cake this Christmas on my own, for the first time, and sharing it with my friends and loved ones. I'll stick to her recipe exactly, except that my cakes will probably also include a few tears. They'll be tears of both joy and sadness. Joy because of all the wonderful memories I have around Nana's Fruit Cake and Christmas and sadness because it's the first Christmas without Nana.

I don't know the origin of Nana's fruit cake recipe. I've always just thought of it as Nana's White Fruit Cake, so that's how I titled it.

Today, I'm happy to share Nana's recipe with you. I thought about keeping it a secret, but that isn't Nana's way. She'd want to know you enjoyed it too.

NOTE: This is Nana's typed out recipe. All of the notes and verbiage are hers. I didn't change a thing. I think using the recipe the way she thought of it and in her sweet words makes it better.

Nana's White Fruit Cake

3/4 lb butter (3 sticks)
2 cups sugar
6 egg whites
1/2 cup whiskey
4 cups plain flour (sifted) - does not need sifting these days as flour is very fine and soft.
2 tsp baking powder
1 lb pecans
1 lb candied cherries (red and green mix)
1 lb candied pineapple

Day before you bake I cut my pineapple and cherries in halves. I think this makes slicing easier and prettier. Then chop pecans. Can use scissors to cut in half.

You will need mixer, one glass bowl to beat egg whites and a big bowl to put pecans and fruit in. You will save a little flour to pour over fruit and pecans so they will not go to bottom of pan when cooking, this is called dredging with flour. About 1/4 cup.

1. Mix first 6 ingredients in order one at a time and cream each time.
2. Pour little (about 1/4 cup) flour over the fruit and pecans and stir. I use my hands.
3. Beat egg whites until stiff.
4. Pour batter over the fruit and pecans and use hands to mix then pour egg whites in and fold into this using hands.

All done, ready to pour into loaf pans and bake.

Grease pans and flour sides and bottom, but shake to get all flour out. Then I cut from a brown bag the size of bottom of pan and place in bottom to keep from sticking. (JLG NOTE: I think parchment paper would work, but I'll always use a brown paper sack.)

Start in cold oven. Bake about 2 hours or 2 1/4 hours. I just look and feel to see if brown and if cake feels solid.

Let set about 15 minutes, then run knife around sides and turn out on board or wax paper. I let cool then dredge with whiskey (about 1/4 cup) then wrap air tight. Can open in a couple of weeks and can pour little more liquor if needed.

All ready for Christmas. I just leave in pantry in a plastic sack. Cake is first wrapped in wax paper or Saran wrap real tight.



Sonya Iannone Heilmann said...

Jessica, this is a great way to remember your grandmother! I got a little teary-eyed reading your account of her tasty recipe, because we've recently started doing something similar in my household.

My grandfather Rafael (whom I called "Sir Rafa"), passed away a year ago in October 2008. Just recently, on the anniversary of his death, my husband, daughter, and I made the "Sir Rafa Special" out on our grill - this is a tasty homemade "gourmet" burger that he would definitely enjoy if he were still around today.

So I guess this is my rambling way of saying I like how you're helping her memory live on and on!

Little Merry Sunshine said...


Thank you so much!

I love your new tradition honoring Sir Rafa!

Isn't it awesome how we choose to keep the memories of our loved ones alive?

Have a great day!