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Martha Washington's Great Cake

This is the recipe adapted for the 21st century. It's what those nice docents give you when you visit the kitchen at the Mt. Vernon estate.

Because I like the idea of going full circle, I'll be re-caking Martha's recipe at the end of this year. I may try a couple of different combinations of fruits and nuts. Craisins are good. And of course, how can you not include dried cherries for a Washington family recipe?

10 eggs

1 pound butter

1 pound sugar

1 ¼ pounds (20 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/4 pounds (20 ounces) assorted fruits and nuts*

2 1/2 teaspoons ground mace

2 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 ounces wine

2 ounces French brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch spring form pan.

Separate egg whites from yolks and set yolks aside. Beat egg whites to a "soft peak." Cream the butter. Slowly add the beaten egg whites, one spoonful at a time, to the butter. Slowly add the sugar, one spoonful at a time, to the egg whites and butter. Add egg yolks. Add flour, slowly. Add fruits and nuts.

Add mace, nutmeg, wine and brandy.

Pour batter into pan and bake about 75 minutes. Allow cake to cool after baking.

When cake is almost cool, make the icing.

*The following are suggested based on what would have been available to Mrs. Washington, either fresh or dried.

5 ounces of pear (peeled, cored, and diced)

3 1/2 ounces of raisins

9 1/2 ounces of apples (peeled, cored and diced)

2 ounces sliced almonds

Modern Adaptation of an 18th-Century Icing

3 egg whites

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons orange flavoring

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Using a mixer (or your arms, if you've had your vitamins), beat together egg whites and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Repeat adding sugar until you have used 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

Add grated lemon peel and orange flavoring. Beat until the icing is stiff enough to stay parted when knife cuts through it. Smooth onto cake. Let it dry and harden in the oven for 1 hour (Note: Icing will be brittle when cut with a knife).

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