Most ladies think fruit cake quite incomplete without wine or brandy, but it can be made equally good on strictly temperance-principles, by substituting one-third of a cup of molasses for a wineglass of brandy. The objection to the use of liquor in sauces does not, however, hold good against that used in cake-making, as the alcohol is converted to vapor by the heat and passes off with the other gases. There are many, however, who object to the use of liquors in any way, and to keeping them in the house, and such will find the above an excellent and cheap substitute.
Raisins should never be washed, as it is difficult to dry out the moisture absorbed by them, and every particle of moisture retained tends to make the cake heavy. To remove the stems and extraneous matter, place the raisins in a coarse towel and rub them in this until as clean as rubbing will make them; then pick over carefully, remove any stems or other defects which may be left. The raisins should be prepared before the cake, and added the last thing before putting in the oven, as, being heavy, they sink to the bottom if allowed to stand. To seed, clip with the scissors, or cut with a sharp knife. Do not chop too fine; if for light fruit cake, seeding is all that is necessary. Slice the citron thin, and do not have the pieces too large, or they will cause the cake to break apart in cutting. Currants should be kept prepared for use as follows: Wash in warm water, rubbing well, pour off water, and repeat until the water is clear; drain them in a sieve, spread on a cloth and rub dry; pick out bad ones, dry carefully in a cool oven or in the "heater" (or in the sun and wind, with a thin gauze over them to keep off flies, insects and dust), and set away for use. When the fruit is all mixed, cream the butter and sugar - this is very important in all cakes - add the spices, molasses, or liquors, then the milk (if any used), next the eggs well beaten, adding whites with the flour, as previously directed. Always beat whites and yolks separately if many eggs are used, but if only a few, it is just as well to beat both together. Next add the flour (which in making black fruit cake may be browned), prepared with baking powder or soda and cream tartar, then the flavoring (lemon and vanilla, in equal parts, make the best flavoring), and lastly the fruit dredged with a very little flour. Some prefer to mix the fruit with all the flour. When but little fruit is used it may be dropped into the dough after it is in the pan, and pushed just beneath the surface, which prevents it from settling to the bottom. The batter for fruit cake should be quite stiff.
In making very large cakes that require three or four hours to bake, an excellent way for lining the pan is the following: Fit three papers carefully, grease thoroughly, make a paste of equal parts Graham and fine flour, wet with water just stiff enough to spread -easily with a spoon, place the first paper in the pan with the greased side down, and spread the paste evenly over the paper about as thick as pie-crust. In covering the sides of the pan, use a little paste to stick a portion of the paper to the top of the pan to keep it from slipping out of place, press the second paper carefully into its place, with the greased side up, and next put in the third paper as you would into any baking-pan, and pour in the cake. Earthen pans are used by some, as they do not heat so quickly and are less liable to burn the cake.
When using a milk-pan or pans, without stems, a glass bottle filled with shot to give it weight, and greased, may be placed in the center of the pan, or a stem may be made of paste-board, rolled up, but the latter is more troublesome to keep in place. The cake is apt to burn around the edges before it is done unless there is a tube in the center.
All except layer cakes should be covered with a paper cap, (or a sheet of brown paper, which the careful housewife will save from her grocers' packages), when first put into the oven. Take a square-of brown paper large enough to cover well the cake pan, cut off' the corners, and lay a plait on four sides, fastening each with a pin so as to fit nicely over the pan. This will throw it up in the center, so that the cover will not touch the cake. Save the cap, as it can be used several times.
Before commencing, clean out the stove, take off the lids and brush inside, rake it out underneath, get all the ashes out of the corners, have the best of fuel at hand. Don't build a baking fire before it is needed, have it only moderate, and add the extra fuel in time to-get it nicely burning.