Yesterday I made the last of my fruit cakes. Now they only have to age a few weeks and I am all done for this year. They came out great, the last batch I cooked too long, they taste fine but they take more brandy to moisten them. This batch I checked oftener so I got them out of the oven at just the right time. The cooking time depends alot on the size of the cake and I always make several different sizes at the same time. Here is the recipe I use. The difference in the Southern Fruit Cake and a regular on is that a Southern cake uses one and a half times as much fruit. step 1. First weigh out 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of raisens and 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of currants. (I buy my raisens at B J’s in a five pound bag so I just use half of that. My currants come from Amazon.com and are in a 10 ounce package so I just use two of those.) Wash these under cold water just to get them wet and spread them on a raised sided cookie sheet, cover them with another cookie sheet or with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. This is to plump the raisens and currants so they don’t sink in the batter. Step 2. While the raisens are plumping measure and chop the other fruit. 1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped candied pineapple, 1 pound citron, 1/2 to 3/4 pound candied orange rind chopped, 1/2 to 3/4 pound candied lemon rind chopped, 1/2 pound canied cherries cut in half, 1 pound walnut meats lightly chopped, 1 pound pecan meats lightly chopped. Mix these all together in a very large bowl, I use my extra large metal mixing bowl and find it just right for mixing well. Sprinkle in two cups of flour and stir well to help keep the fruit from sticking together. I candy my own pinapple, orange, and lemon rind while I am in Florida after Christmas and keep them in the freezer until the next fall when I make my cakes and it works well and is less expensive. You may add other fruits as well such as chopped dates or figs. Step 3 – in the large mixer cream together 1 cup of butter and 1 cups of dark brown sugar. Add five eggs and beat well. Add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp mace, 3/4 tsp nutmeg, 3/4 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp ground cloves and 1/2 cup molasses and 2 tsp vanilla, mix well. add altenately 3 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour or all purpose flour and 1/2 cup brandy and 1/2 cup syrup. I use a mixed berry syrup this year. sometimes I use a jelly that didn’t quite jell that I use as a syrup. Step 4. Put this batter into the large bowl of fruit a little at a time so you can mix it in well. When the fruit and batter are one big mass you are done. Grease and flour your desired pans and fill each one almost full. These do not rise much if any so what you put in is what you will end up with. This batch made me one regular sized bunt pan, three half loaf pans, and 6 small round disposable pans full. Cook in a 300 degree oven until done, do not over cook. Place a pan of water on the shelf under the cakes to help keep the moist. I cooked the 6 small one first and it took one hour and twenty minutes. Always check about twenty minutes before the time is up so you don’t over cook, some days my oven seems to be hoter than others so the time does vary. On the small cakes it can take as much as an hour and a half. The other four cakes I did all at once, the half cakes takes about 2 hours and the large cakes take 2 to as much as 3 hours, always check often to see if they are done. The first two batches I did I make one large 2 quart cake plus several small one. the large cakes I steamed and that worked well. It took three hours to steam those. Step five: Let the cakes cool in the pan, when cool but not cold remove from the pans and let air cool on a rack until completely cool, then cut a piece of cheese cloth that will completly wrap the cake, soak the cheese cloth in brandy and wrap it around the cake. Put the cake in a plastic freezer or storage bag and place the cake in a cool dark place to age. I use the bottom shelf of the refrigerator as my root cellar is too warm right now about 68-72. These should age for three weeks, each week check them to be sure the cheese cloth has not dried out, if it is dry spoon on a little more brandy. After they have aged for three weeks remove the cheese cloth and glaze and decorate the cakes. I usually eat one or more of the small cakes while they are aging to keep track of the flavor. They can be eaten right away but they are better when fully aged. Step 6, To Glaze, bring to a boil 1/2 cup light corn syrup and 1/2 cup water. Boil until the glaze begins to thicken just a little – this makes 2/3 of a cup. Cool and brush on the tops of the cake and decorate with pecans and candied cherries, red and green. Let dry over night on a rack, then put into the plastic bags and keep in the refrigerator until you eat them. They can be frozen if you want to keep them several months. You and also keep them longer if you keep them in the cheese cloth and keep that moist with brandy for extended lenght of time. If you live in a cold climate you can do the aging in any dark cold area. Good luck and have fun making your own combination of fruits and nuts. Have a great day.