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Black cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

3/4 cup pitted prunes
3/4 cup currants
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup mixed candied peel
3/4 cup sweet red wine
3/4 cup dark rum
Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 eggs
1/4 cup burnt sugar essence or molasses

1.Have on hand a 9-inch springform pan and a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a food processor, work each of the fruits -- prunes, currants, raisins, cherries, and candied peel -- separately until they are finely chopped.

3.In a medium saucepan, combine the wine, rum, and chopped fruit. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Leave the fruit to macerate in the covered saucepan overnight at room temperature.

5. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter the pan and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.

6. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.

7. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and dark brown sugar. Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the burnt sugar essence or molasses.

8. Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Stir the macerated fruit into the batter.

9. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Set the pan on the baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking for 2 1/2 hours.

10. Leave the cake in the pan to cool completely. Unsnap the springform and slide the cake onto a flat platter for frosting. Adapted from "Home Cooking" Notes:

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