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
- Whiskey Sauce
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.
Combine 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. Brush the cakes with 1 cup of the reserved simple syrup.
Wrap each cake in a layer of cheese cloth. Set the cakes in a container and drizzle 1 teaspoon of the bourbon mixture over each cake and set aside covered for three weeks. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the bourbon mixture over each of the cakes once every 3 to 4 days.
After three weeks, the cakes can be eaten or wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months, adding more liquor every couple of weeks.
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