07 December 2009

Edna Lewis’ Christmas Fruitcake

Fruitcake Week is winding down over at Cookbook Of The Day and we just can't seem to stop! This recipe is from the late great Edna Lewis. It appeared in Vogue, so there is no cookbook. Fortunately here at Lucindaville, our only criteria for post is to post what we like. This recipe reminded Lewis of her mother and sister and the way the house smelled as the cakes baked. That is the reason to bake. Here is her recipe, bake it with someone you love.

Edna Lewis’ Christmas Fruitcake

1 cup diced (1/4 inch) glazed candied orange peel
1 cup diced (1/2 inch) glazed candied lemon peel
2 cups ½ inch-long thin strips citron
1 cup dried currants
2 cups raisins, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup brandy
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ pound + 6 tablespoons (2 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, separated, the whites at room temperature
1/2 cup sorghum

1. in a large bowl, stir together the orange peel, lemon peel, citron, currants, and raisins. Add wine and brandy and combine the mixture well. Let the fruit macerate, covered, for at least several hours or overnight.

2. Butter a 10 X 4-inch tube pan (or 2 loaf pans, each 9-by-5-by-3-inches) and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper well.

3. Into a bowl, sift the flour with with the spices. Add the baking
powder and salt and sift again.

4. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolks, beaten lightly, and beat the mixture well. Add the flour, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sorghum and beat the mixture well. Stir in the fruit mixture with the liquid and combine well.

5. In a large bowl with a mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Fold the whites gently but thoroughly into the batter. Spoon the batter
into the prepared pan and let stand , covered loosely with a kitchen towel, in a cool place overnight to let the flavors mellow.

6. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

7. Bake the fruitcake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove and cover it with a piece of brown paper (do not use foil) and bake it for an additional 2 to 2 ½ hours.

8. let the cake cool completely in the pan on a rack and it out onto a work surface. Leaving the parchment paper on the cake. Wrap the cake in
foil, and pack it in a tin, and punch a few holes in the lid or set the lid on loosely. Store the tin in a cool place. Every 2 to 3 weeks up until Christmas, sprinkle the cake with about ½ cup of brandy, wine, or whiskey. (The liquor will keep the cake moist and flavorful and help preserve it as well.)


  1. Edna Lewis was mentioned on the Aesthetes comments today-I think of all the cooking I have done bookwise- Edna Lewis' are my most successful. I especially love the Scott Peacock book (her last-I suppose) I have a fruitcake receipt to share on la soon. GT

  2. Hello -
    I am a filmmaker in Atlanta. I just wanted to let you know I produced a 21 minute documentary about Miss Edna Lewis. The film is called "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie".

    It is viewable in its entirety on Internet at a Gourmet Magazine website:


    and at this Library of Virginia website:


    My website, http://bbarash.com/bb_friedchicken.htm

    has more information about the film and the story of Miss Lewis.

    Bailey Barash


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