Martha Washington's Cake

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This is the famous first lady Martha Washington's fruit cake. It originally was made with 4 pounds butter, 4 pounds sugar, 5 pounds of flour, and 40 eggs, and it is said that it weighed 13 pounds! Below is the version that is used today. The cake has a stiff icing that shatters when it is cut.


10 eggs
1 pound butter
1 pound sugar
1-1/4 pounds flour
1 large pear, 5-ounces, peeled, cored, and diced
2 medium apples, 9-1/2-ounces, peeled, cored, and diced
3-1/2-ounces raisins
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2-1/2 teaspoons ground mace
2-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2-ounces wine
2 ounces French brandy

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Separate egg whites from yolks and set yolks aside. Beat egg whites to the soft-peak stage. Cream the butter. Slowly add the beaten egg whites, one spoonful at a time, to the butter.

Add sugar slowly to egg whites and butter, again, one spoonful at a time. Add egg yolks. Add flour, slowly. Add fruit and almonds. Add ground mace, nutmeg, wine, and brandy.

Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch springform cake pan. Put batter into pan and place in oven. Bake for about 75 minutes. When done, remove cake from oven, cool and ice.

This is a modern version of the icing used.

Modern Adaptation of 18th-Century Icing

3 egg whites
1-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon lemon peel, grated
2 tablespoons orange-flower water

Beat for 3 minutes egg whites and 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar. Continue to add sugar until you have used all of the sugar. Add lemon peel and orange-flower water.

Beat until icing is stiff enough to stay parted when a knife cuts through it. Smooth it onto the top and sides of cake. Let it dry and harden in a 200-degree oven for about 1 hour.

NOTE - Icing will be brittle and shatters when you cut into the cake.