It has been so cold this week I have actually been thinking of making a fruit cake. So I started pulling out some really old books to check out long ago and far away recipes. I have a rather beaten up copy of Sara Paul's Cookery from Experience. Written in 1875, Mrs. Paul book bears all the marks of the early cookbooks, including a good bit of information on housekeeping as well as tried and true methods for such things as removing tar and storing meat in hot weather.
Removing tar required "soaking" it in lard, which begs the question, how then does one get the lard stain out? Well that is another day...
I lust love flipping through these cookbooks from the late 1800's. While there are seriously dated offerings, one can find recipes that seem to have been written by today's most innovative chefs.
Mrs. Paul offered up several fruit cake recipes, but this one sounded the most promising.
Fruit Cake, No. 1
One pound of butter, the same of sugar and flour, ten eggs, one pound of raisins seeded, one of currants washed and dried, and half a pound of citron cut in little strips. Stir the butter and sugar to a cream, add to them half a small nutmeg grated, a pinch of cinnamon and the rind of half a lemon grated; stir well; then add the yolks of the eggs beaten light; stir these well together, and then add the flour alternately with the whites of the eggs beaten to a froth; mix the fruit altogether, and stir in it two heaping tablespoons of flour, and stir it in the cake. Bake slowly nearly two hours; if browning too much, cover with thick paper. When the cake shrinks from the sides of the pan, and a broom splint run down the centre of the cake comes out clean and dry, the cake is done; and this is the test for all kinds of cake.