Black cake (again) pt 1

Yield: 1 Servings

Measure Ingredient
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Well, here it is Friday night and the busy week is over and we have decided not to go to one of the boring fundraising parties we were scheduled for, and I have an hour's free time, so--contrary to my earlier promise--here is the Laurie Colwin recipe for Black Cake--to my way of thinking the best ever fruitcake recipe I've encountered. As Laurie says in her essay: "I've never had anything like it before or since, and it is NOT an acquired taste. One bite is all it takes." BLACK CAKE PART I: THE FRUIT

1. Chop extra, extra fine one pound of raisins, one pound of prunes, one pound of currants, one pound of glace cherries and ¾ pound of mixed peel.

For a grainier texture, leave some of the currants whole. Pour into a large bowl or crock and cover with one bottle of Passover wine (Mani- shewitz Concord) and one bottle of the darkest rum you can find. Marinate at least two weeks-- but the longer the better--up to six months.

BLACK CAKE PART II: BAKING

2. Cream one pound of butter and one pound of dark brown sugar. Add the fruit and wine. Add one tablespoon of vanilla and ½ tsp. each of nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat in one dozen eggs. Add one pound plus ½ cup of flour and three tsps. of baking powder. Add one pound burnt sugar (see below).

Batter should be dark brown.

Bake in two DEEP 9-inch, well-buttered and floured cake tins for 1 to 1¼ hours at 350 degrees.

When the cake is absolutely cool, wrap it in waxed paper or aluminum foil (not plastic wrap) and let it sit until you are ready to ice it.

Burnt Sugar: In a heavy skillet combine 1 pound of brown sugar and 1 cup water, bring the mixture to a boil over moderate heat, stirring and washing down any sugar crystals clinging to the side with a brush dipped in cold water until the sugar is dissolved, and boil the syrup, swirling the skillet occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it is reduced to 1 ¾ cups. Let the burnt sugar syrup cool and reserve it until ready to add to recipe above.

BLACK CAKE PART III: THE ICING

1 ½ cups almond paste (about ¾ pound) (Can be found canned in supermarkets.)

7 cups confectioners' sugar (about 2 lbs.), sifted 6 large egg whites at room temperature 2 Tbsps. strained fresh lemon juice Silver dragees for decorating the cake (usually can be found in baking aisle in supermarkets)

Roll out half the almond paste between sheets of plastic wrap to form a 10-inch round and remove the top sheet of plastic. Fit the almong paste layer over one of the cooled cakes, trimming the edge if necessary, and remove the other sheet of plastic wrap. Roll out and fit the remaining almond paste onto the remaining cake in the same manner.

Make the icing: In a bowl with an electric mixer beat 4 cups of the confectioners' sugar, the egg whites, and the lemon juice for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the mixture holds soft peaks. Beat in the remaining 3 cups confectioners' sugar and beat the icing until it holds stiff peaks.

Transfer 2 cups of the icing to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip, spread the remaining icing on the tops and sides of the cakes with a long metal spatula, and pipe the icing in the pastry bag decoratively onto the cakes. Arrange the dragees on the cakes. Makes 2 black cakes.

NOTES: After having baked these cakes several times, I (Joanne) have these additional comments:

1. Both the Concord grape wine and the rum amounts are 750 ml bottles.

continued in part 2

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