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Mrs. Beeton's Christmas Cake

(by Jeanne Hunter)

2 c. flour

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. ground cloves

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. allspice

1/2 t. grated nutmeg

1/2 t. salt

1/2 lb. unsalted butter, softened

2 c. dark brown sugar

6 large eggs, beaten

3/4 c. molasses

3/4 c. apple juice

3 T. brandy

1 c. raisins

1 c. golden raisins

1 1/2 c. mixed glacéd fruits

1 c. glacéd cherries

1 c. chopped walnuts

zest of one lemon

Spray either a 10 x 3-in. or two 7 x 3-in. round pans with Baker's Joy cooking spray, and place in the freezer to chill for an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 275 F.

Mix flour, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream butter.

Blend in sugar and beaten eggs.

Mix together molasses, apple juice, and brandy.

Beat into flour mix.

Fold in raisins, fruits, walnuts, and lemon zest, combining well.

Pour into chilled pan(s) and bake for approximately 3 1/2 hours for the larger pan, 3 hours for the smaller pans, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan.

Remove from pan(s), wrap in wax paper then aluminum foil, and store in cool, dry place.

Before serving, frost with optional royal icing.

Optional Royal Icing:

3 large egg whites

5 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 T. lemon juice

1 1/2 t. glycerine

Beat egg whites on low speed until they are foamy and frothy.

Add sugar by large spoonfuls while continuing to beat.

Beat in lemon juice and glycerine on medium speed until the icing stands up in stiff peaks when the beater is lifted.

(Read War and Peace, the story that accompanies this recipe.)

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