- FOR THE SIMPLE SYRUP:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- Strips of zest of 2 lemons (about 3 tablespoons)
- Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
- FOR THE CAKE:
- 1 pound of a combination of dried fruits, such as blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raisins, and chopped apricots
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 ounces almond paste
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
- 4 cups bleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup slivered blanched almonds
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the lemon zest and juice and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
- Combine the dried fruits together in a large mixing bowl. Pour the simple syrup over them, toss to coat, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain and serve the syrup.
- Cream the butter, sugar, and almond paste together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle at low speed, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat until the mixture is fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition on low speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add 1/2 cup of the Grand Marnier and mix to incorporate.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium-size mixing bowl and blend well. Add this mixture 1/2 cup at a time to the butter mixture with the mixer on low speed, each time mixing until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The batter will be thick.
- Add the warm fruit and all the nuts a little at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Lightly grease twelve 1-pound loaf pans. Spoon about 1 cup of the batter into each pan. Bake until golden and the tops spring back when touched, about 45 minutes (rearranging them after 25 minutes if necessary to brown evenly).
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Remove cakes from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.
- Wrap each cake in a layer of cheesecloth. Store in plastic storage bags until they are slightly stale, 3 to 4 days.
- Combine the reserved simple syrup with the remaining 1/2 cup Grand Marnier and the bourbon. Without removing the cheesecloth, make tiny holes with a toothpick randomly on the top of each cake. Pour 2 tablespoons of the syrup over the top of each cake once every 2 to 3 days until all of the syrup is used. Let the cakes age for up to 3 weeks before eating.
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