At least a day before baking (or a week before) place the raisins in a jar with a tight-fitting top. Add the bourbon. Turn occasionally from top to bottom. (If the jar might leak when it is upside down, place it in a bowl.)
Prepare the oven to 300° and adjust a rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven. You will need a 10 x 4-inch tube pan, which may have a separate bottom or may be all in one piece, and it may have a nonstick lining or not. Butter the pan (even if it is nonstick), line the bottom with baking pan liner paper or brown wrapping paper cut to fit, butter the paper, and dust with fine, dry bread crumbs (with your fingertips, sprinkle the crumbs on the tube). Then, over a piece of paper, tap to shake out excess crumbs.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt (reserve 1/4 teaspoon of salt). Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is softened. Add the nutmeg and 3/4 cups of the sugar (reserve the remaining 1/4 cup) and beat for 5 minutes until the mixture is very creamy. Add the egg yolks (it is okay to add them all at once) and beat for a few minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula. On low speed add about one-third of the sifted dry ingredients and beat only to mix. Then mix in about half of the raisins, along with any bourbon that was not absorbed. Then add another third of the dry ingredients, the remaining raisins and bourbon, and finally the remaining dry ingredients, scraping the bowl as necessary with a large rubber spatula and beating only until incorporated after each addition.
Remove from the mixer and stir in the nuts. Now transfer the mixture to a larger bowl in order to have room to fold in the beaten whites. Set aside.
In the small bowl of an electric mixer, with clean beaters, beat the whites and the reserved 3/4 teaspoon of salt until the whites hold a soft shape. Reduce the speed to moderate and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Then increase the speed to high and beat briefly, only until the whites hold a definite shape but are not stiff or dry.
With a large rubber spatula stir one-quarter of the whites into the cake batter. Then fold in the remaining whites.
Turn the mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.
Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and dry. If the top of the cake begins to darken too much during baking, cover it loosely with foil.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 30 minutes. (The top of the cake will be 1 inch below the top of the pan.)
Cover the pan with a rack, carefully turn over the pan and the rack, remove the pan, peel off the paper lining, cover with another rack and turn over again, leaving the cake right side up.
When the cake has cooled, wrap it airtight and refrigerate it for a few days before serving, or freeze it.
The cake should be cold when it is cut. Use a very sharp, firm knife and make the slices thin.
Note: If you wish, you can wrap the cake in a napkin that has been soaked with bourbon or you can just stuff the center hole with a piece of cheesecloth that has been soaked with bourbon, and then wrap the cake with plastic wrap or foil and let it age that way at room temperature for at least a few days. It is a fine cake either way, with or without the additional bourbon—but it is possibly a little more fine with it. Kentucky Whiskey Cake
Makes 24 or more portions
"This is an heirloom recipe for an extravagant and marvelous raisin/nut/bourbon fruitcake. It is a cake traditionally served for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is wonderful any time. It lasts well and makes a magnificent gift. It is 5 1/2 pounds of deliciousness." Maida Heatter
Reprinted with Permission from ©Maida Heatter's Cakes, by Maida Heatter, foreword by Nancy Silverton, published by Andrews McMeel read more, get more recipes
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