Martha's Great Cake

Martha's Cake



1 1/2 cups currants
2/3 cup chopped candied orange and lemon peel
1/3 cup chopped candied citron
1/4 cup French brandy
3/4 cup Madeira, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground mace
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, separated



  1. Combine the currants, orange and lemon peels, and citron in a large bowl. Add ½ cup of the Madeira, and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for at least 3 hours, or as long as overnight. Stir the remainder of the Madeira together with the brandy, cover, and set aside.
  2. When ready to bake the cake, preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  3. Drain the fruits in a large strainer set over a bowl, stirring occasionally to extract as much of the Madeira as possible. Add the strained Madeira to the set-aside Madeira and brandy.
  4. Combine ¼ cup of the flour with the fruit, and mix well. Add the almonds, and set aside. Sift the remaining flour with the nutmeg and mace.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is light. Add the sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating for several minutes after adding each ingredient. Whisk the egg yolks until they are light and smooth, and add them to the butter and sugar. Continue to beat for several minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  6. Alternately add the spiced flour, ½ cup at a time, and the Madeira and brandy, beating until smooth.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks. By hand, gently fold them into the batter, combining lightly until well blended. By hand, fold in the fruit in thirds, mixing until well combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  9. Bake for about 1 ½ hours, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. If serving the cake plain, turn it out of the pan to cool completely. If finishing it with icing, turn the warm cake out of the pan onto a baking sheet, and proceed with the icing.

Optional: Use the Sugar Icing recipe below. Ice generously onto the surface, piling it high and swirling it around the top and sides. Set in the turned-off warm oven and let sit for at least 3 hours, or until the cake is cool and the icing has hardened. The icing will crumble when the cake is sliced.



One 10-inch tube cake

Reader Comments

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How to brown the icing?

The cake in the picture looks like the icing was browned in the oven, like a lemon meringue pie. How was this done? What temp, how long, etc?


This seems to be a fruitcake recipe, and for more than one cake. Lady sure knew how to entertain...

Has anyone tried this yet??

Is there an Almanac kitchen?? Has this recipe been test baked?? Curious, but that's a LOT of ingredients if it's awful. . . . just sayin'! Eggs ain't free . . .


The Editors's picture

We’ve presented this recipe precisely as Martha Washington wrote it, for authenticity’s sake. However, it is certainly not your average cake! Here’s a more realistic version of the recipe, courtesy of the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant: Martha’s Great Cake.