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Ryan House 1855

Sonora, California

Specialty Recipe

Howard Cake

Old family recipe. Even people who hate fruit cake like this one.

1-1/2 cups butter (3/4 warmed)
2-1/2 cups white sugar
1-1/2 cups sour milk (I use sour half & half or evaporated milk soured with one teaspoon of white vinegar)
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups ground coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pounds white raisins
1 pound of mixed peels
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup diced orange peel
1 teaspoon orange extract
5 cups white flour (divided)

Mix butter, sugar, sour milk, eggs, 3 cups of the flour, coconut, and vanilla as any cake. Mix the remaining 2 cups flour with mixed fruit: in large bowl, combine fruits, then combine flour, salt, and baking soda and sift over fruit mixture; toss until fruits are well coated. Mix floured fruit with other batter. Use heavy non-stick tube pan or bundt pan 10 by 4 inches deep, well greased and floured. Turn into prepared pan and bake 3 hours in 300-degree oven. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick in center of cake. Makes 2 cakes. Cakes bake best if you place a small pan of water in the bottom of the oven. This keeps the cake from drying out. Cake batter can also be divided into loaf pans, small or large; adjust baking time.

Before baking, I decorate the top of the cake with blanched almonds. You can also add chopped pecans or almonds to the batter, but I like to have the nuts on top. Cool cake in pan on rack, then remove. When cake is cold, wrap with cloth soaked in brandy or bourbon, then in foil. Store in tightly covered container, preferably for several weeks, to ripen. Keep brandy cloth moist. The cake is also excellent without the brandy, depending on taste.

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