This recipe was given to me by my wonderful friend of 40 plus years. You know the saying that you can count real TRUE FRIENDS in your life on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left over. She is one of my TRUE FRIENDS and I adore her. This recipe came from her grand mother to her mother and to her. This was the Christmas Gift for her and her sister when they were children. It makes 25 pound. Jeri is my friends name. Most of her life she has had a serious and chronic illness of her lungs. The Measles settled in her lungs as a child and she's had several lung surgeries, even a Mayo Clinic. She is 79 now and on Oxygen 24/7. Last year she struggled to make this cake but it was just too taxing on her body. Her sister is deceased, she had one daughter who is deceased also. Jeri has 2 sons and the daughter in laws are not interested in making this traditional family fruit cake. However, she wanted to pass it on. So..she gave it to me. I know it's a lot of work but the taste and beauty of it is worth it.It's time to get busy making it if you want it for Christmas this year. There has been so much love put into this recipe. I hope you will accept this gift knowing how many joyful hearts it has created down through the years..."Jesus Is The Reason For The Season" In honor of my very precious friend, Jeri Rollo McClendon....Jewel Hall
Step 1 : Brown 1/2 of the flour in a 300 - 325 degree oven in a heavy black iron skillet(STIR OFTEN !!! can't get too brown) until it changes color, don't let it burn !! Put 2 1/2 cups of the browned flour in one large bowl and the other 2 1/2 cups white flour in a bowl to flour the nuts and fruits later.
Separate eggs, put yokes in a separate bowl and save the whites in their own bowl to beat into meringue to use later.
Cream sugar and butter with mixer and slowly add one egg yoke at a time, beating after each one. Slowly add the 2 1/2 cups of browned flour; set aside.
Step 2:Chop as many pecans / walnuts as you want, quiet a few, save some halves to decorate the tops of the cakes. In a separate bowls flour with plain white flour the raisins, cherries (except the ones to decorate the tops of the cakes)lemon peel, orange peel,candied pineapple and nuts (except the nuts to decorate the tops of the cakes with the cherries). Candied fruits, peels and nuts must be chopped BEFORE being drenched with flour. Set aside in separate bowls.
Step 3: Empty the Apricot preserves into a bowl of its own. Put all pre measured spices in a bowl by itself. The cup of VERY STRONG COFFEE should be made the day before and allowed to sit at room temperature.
Step 4: YOU WILL NEED A VERY LARGE DISH PAN TO MIX EVERY THING UP.
Begin alternating above ingredients in dish pan except egg whites and the un floured cherries and nuts reserved for tops of cakes.
To the sugar, butter, egg yokes and browned flour mixture begin alternating some chopped fruits, peels, candied pineapple, chopped nuts, preserves, spices and Strong Coffee. Mix real well after each addition until all is mixed real well in dishpan. NOW beat the reserved egg whites real stiff and fold into batter. This is a large amount of batter so be sure you have a very large dish pan.
Use smooth sided angel food cake pans; not bunt pans. this should make 2 full size cakes and 2-3 loaf size cakes. You have about 25 pounds of Fruit cake mix now. Cut parchment paper to fit into bottom of pans about 3-4 layers thick then use cooking spray to coat parchment paper and sides of cake pans. Fill pans 3/4 full of cake batter; decorate with the reserved nut halves and the red and green candied cherries. Place ' Cut to fit' pieces of heavy brown paper bags over the top of cakes. Cook in a pre heated oven at 225 degree F. on lower rack 2-3 hours or until side of cake begins to pull away from sides of pans. You MUST place a pan of water on the top oven rack about half full to prevent fruit cakes from drying out while baking. Watch it to make sure it doesn't become totally empty before cakes are through baking. If you are cooking 2 angel food cake pans and some loaf pans all at one time on lower rack the loaf pans will get done first and be required to come out of oven first. Just keep a watch on them. When cakes are done remove from oven and leave in pans on racks to completely cool. Don't disturb them !! Leave out over night and cover them with a sheet. The next morning the cakes will be completely cooled and now can be gently removed from pans. Remove the cakes on to parchment paper, under pre cut pieces of a sheets to fit around cakes when soaked. Cut several pieces of Granny Smith Apples and lay on top of the cakes, NOW soak the pieces of sheeting fabric sized to to wrap the cakes well with BLACKBERRY WINE, wrap well and place in air tight containers. Re soak the material with the wine every 7 to 10 days. Do this 6 weeks before cutting one piece. You can serve after 6 weeks and you can re soak the cloth with with wine one ounce per month for 4 -5 more months...IF ANY IS LEFT !!!