Divide batter between the prepared pans, then level the tops in a general way, leaving them slightly bumpy. Lift each pan and drop it a few inches onto the work surface to settle the dough. Bake cakes in the preheated 300 F. oven until the tops are golden-brown and a cake tester emerges dry from the center, about 1¾ hours. Midway in baking, exchange the oven positions of the pans for even browning.
If the tops seem to be browning too fast or too much, cover each cake loosely with a foil tent only slightly larger than its top. If you are baking the cake in a pullman pan, the baking time will be approximately 10 minutes longer.
Let fruitcakes cool in the pans, set on wire racks for 20 minutes, lift them out, remove the paper, and cool them completely on the racks. While they are still warm,...pierce cakes deeply on all sides with a long, sharp, two-pronged fork (or use a thin skewer) and brush them all over with additional liqueur, using ½ to ⅔ cup.
If you have made a single large loaf, you may wish to divide it into two or three sections for storage or giving. Wrap cakes separately in foil and store them in a cool pantry, or refrigerate them.
Although the cakes may be served after a week, they continue to mellow and improve for many months and are delicious after more than a year of refrigerated or very cool storage. For long storage,...wrap the cake (or a leftover portion) in cheesecloth, then sprinkle the cloth with brandy before wrapping the whole business in foil.
Yield: 2 large cakes, 3 ½ lbs. each, or one 7 lb., 12" long "pullman" loaf.
Witty writes: "For someone who grew up in the Golden West, as I did, no fruitcake can be more appealing than one made with as many California fruits as possible, most of them simply dried rather than candied.
"My best-of-all-possible cakes shows tawny California colors when it is sliced - gold, peach, apricot, wine-red, brown, and cream - and it's not oversweet. No luridly dyed fruits belong in it, and neither do the pretty but tasteless chunks that are so often sold as candied fruit. So, if at all possible, do candy your own pineapple, orange peel, and sour cherries for the cake; they are vastly better homemade than store-bought.
"The confection...is full of nuts. Feel free to swap one kind of nut for another - Brazil nuts, especially if they are oven-toasted first, are good in place of one of the other kinds, but I urge that the hazelnuts be kept. Similarly, substitute pitted prunes for figs if you prefer them . For a touch of bracing tartness, substitute Candied Cranberries for part of the candied cherries; rinse off their coating of sugar and pat them dry, or use them in their sugary state." "As dried fruits and nuts are sold in a wild array of package sizes, I've given the weight as well as the measurement for certain items in the ingredients list, to simplify shopping. If you foresee no need for two cakes, the recipe is easily divided in half. On the other hand, you may want to make both cakes and store one for next year; it will keep perfectly in a cool pantry or the refrigerator." From "Fancy Pantry" by Helen Witty. New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 1986. ISBN 0-89480-037-X. Pp. 236-238. Posted by Cathy Harned. From: Cathy Harned Date: 09-24-94
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