FRUITCAKE FERVOR

I'd like to request a copy of one of the fruitcake recipes that you published last fall; I had it on my computer but lost it. The recipe that I'm seeking called for bourbon, cherries and pecans. Could you please send it to me? Thank you.

Irene Bush

Washington

Bush's requested recipe originally appeared in an article on uncommon fruitcakes written by Elinor Klivans last year.

If you have a recipe request, please contact us. (See address and e-mail information below.)

Kentucky Bourbon Cake

(Makes 1 large cake)

At first glance it looks as if this cake calls for way too much bourbon, but most of it is absorbed by the fruit as it steeps in the liquor. Both fruit and cake will give only a hint of bourbon. This adaptation of a traditional recipe comes via Sammye Williams, a native Kentuckian, who now lives in the Washington area.

For the cake:

1 1/4 cups bourbon

1 pound red candied cherries, halved

1 1/4 cups golden raisins

4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for the pan

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

6 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups (about 1 pound) pecan halves

For the syrup:

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons bourbon

The day before making the cake: In a medium bowl, stir together the bourbon, cherries and raisins. Cover and let sit overnight, stirring occasionally.

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Butter a 9 1/2- or 10-inch tube pan with sides at least 3 3/4 inches high. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper and butter the paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and both sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will look curdled. Mix in the vanilla and the bourbon-cherry mixture, including any liquid that remains in the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Stir about 1/3 of the egg-white mixture into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining egg whites just until no white streaks remain. Stir the pecans into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the fruitcake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 3 hours. Transfer to a wire rack to cool thoroughly in the pan. Loosen the cake from the sides and center tube and remove it from the pan. Discard the paper lining the bottom.

For the syrup: In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the water and sugar and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the bourbon. Soak a large piece of cheesecloth in the bourbon syrup. Wrap the cake tightly in the cheesecloth, pressing some of the cheesecloth into the center hole. Wrap the fruitcake in plastic wrap, then in heavy aluminum foil. Put into a large tin, if desired. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks. Check the cheesecloth every 2 weeks and moisten with additional syrup if it becomes dry. Refrigerate for up to 2 months. Cut the cold cake into thin slices and serve at room temperature.

Per serving (based on 24): 519 calories, 6 gm protein, 63 gm carbohydrates, 26 gm fat, 84 mg cholesterol, 9 gm saturated fat, 24 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

Send your recipe question (or your answer to a reader's question) to: Prince George's Food, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. Or e-mail it to food@washpost.com.