Well I told you I would get Martha Washington’s Great Cake recipe out and so after you’ve made your snow cream start soaking your fruits for this delicious cake that will bring you back to 18th century Virginia.
The recipe below was clipped from: http://www.seasonalwisdom.com/2012/11/recipe-for-martha-washingtons-great-cake/
You will enjoy reading the original recipe there that calls for 40 eggs, 5 pounds of flour, 5 pounds of sugar, 5 pounds of fruit…you get the picture. No wonder it was called her Great Cake!
Below is a modernized version of Martha Washington’s Great Cake, created by the author of Dining with the Washingtons (Nancy Carter Crump). The only change I made was to add a hearty splash of vanilla and almond extracts as well as toasted the almonds. I don’t think Martha would mind.
1 1/2 cups currants
1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel
1/3 cup chopped candied lemon peel
1/3 cup chopped candied citron
3/4 cup Madiera, divided
1/4 cup French brandy
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, separated
Combine currants, orange and lemon peels, and citron in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of Madeira and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Stir the reminder of the Madeira with the brandy; cover and set aside.
When ready to bake the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Drain fruits in a large strainer set over a bowl, stirring occasionally to extract as much Madeira as possible. Add the strained Madeira to the set-aside Madeira and brandy.
Combine 1/4 cup of the flour with the fruit, and mix well. Add the almonds, and set aside. Sift the remaining flour with the nutmeg and mace.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is light. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating for several minutes after adding each ingredient. Whisk the egg yolks until they are light and smooth, and add them to the butter and sugar. Continue to beat for several minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Alternatively add the spiced flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and the Madiera and brandy, beating until smooth.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks. By hand, gently fold them into the batter, combining lightly until well blended. By hand, fold in the fruit in thirds, mixing until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula, or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. If serving the cake plain, turn it out of the pan to cool completely. If finishing it with icing, turn the warm cake out of the pan onto a baking sheet, and proceed with the icing.
To ice the cake, spread Sugar Icing generously onto the surface, piling it high and swirling it around the top and sides. Set in the turned-off warm oven, and let sit for at least 3 hours, or until the cake is cool and the icing has hardened. The icing will crumble when the cake is sliced.
Sugar Icing Recipe for Great Cake:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons rose water or orange-flower water
In the bowl of an electric mixer, start beating the egg whites on low speed, gradually adding 2 tablespoons of the sugar. After about 3 minutes, or when they just begin to form soft peaks, increase the speed to high and continue adding the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until all the sugar is incorporated and the egg whites form soft peaks.
Add the rose water, and continue beating to form stiff peaks. Use immediately to ice the cake.
NOTE TO MY AGA FOLLOWERS: I baked this cake in the baking oven, (~325°), for one hour, in a tube pan placed on a rack that was sitting directly on the floor of my baking oven. As your oven temperature may vary I would suggest you start testing the cake for doneness with a cake tester or wooden skewer after it has baked for one hour. I doubt you will have to bake it beyond 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool completely before attempting to ice the cake. I placed my cooled cake on an upside down sheet pan covered in parchment paper. This will allow you to easily transfer the cake to your cake stand after the icing sets. After icing I slid the sheet pan with cake into my warming oven for two hours. Then remove and completely cool. The icing will have formed a hard crust and crumble when cut just like it’s supposed to.
Bon Appetit y’all!