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- Preheat oven to 400°F; grease and flour 4 loaf pans.
- Separate eggs.
- Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add pears and pecans; stir again.
- Set aside.
- In large bowl, cream butter and sugar.
- Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla and beat again.
- Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk, blending well after each addition.
- With clean dry beaters, beat egg whites until they stand in firm, glossy, moist peaks.
- Fold ⅓ egg whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining whites.
- Fill each pan ⅔ of batter.
- Reduce oven heat to 350°F.
- Bake 65 minutes, until tester inserted in center of each cake comes out clean.
- Ten minutes before cakes are done, rotate pans back to front to cakes on each rack brown evenly.
- Let cakes cool five minutes on wire racks, then turn out and finish cooling right side up on wire racks.
- Before serving, decorate top of fruitcakes with whole nuts and mixed candied fruit peel.