A very traditional Christmas food, fruitcake became associated with Christmas in England when it was used to transition from meat free Christmas Eve meals. As with many English Christmas customs, eating fruitcake at Christmas also became a tradition in this country.
Preheat oven to 300° F. Place a pan of water in oven. Grease thoroughly and line with wax paper one set of tier pans (one 9-inch, one 7-inch, and one 5-inch).
In a large bowl, combine almonds and fruit. Dredge with one cup of flour.
In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup flour and shortening (or butter). Gradually blend in sugar. Beat in egg yolks and almond flavoring; beat until very light and fluffy. Add milk alternately with 4 ½ cups flour to creamed mixture. Make 3 dry and 2 liquid additions, combining lightly after each.
In another bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar to form stiff but moist peaks. Fold into batter. Fold in floured fruit mixture.
Bake for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours, depending on size of pan. Bake each cake until it tests done with toothpick. Remove from pans and lift off paper. Cool.
Last updated: January 10, 2017