4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 pound chopped dates
1 pound candied citron
1 pound chopped pecans
1 pound dried figs, coarsely chopped
1 (15 ounce) package raisins
1 (10 ounce) package currants
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
12 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup brandy
15 pecan halves (optional)
3 red candied cherry halves (optional)
Make a liner for a 10-inch tube pan by drawing an 18-inch circle on brown paper (not recycled). Cut out circle; set pan in center, and draw around base of pan and inside tube. Remove pan, and fold circle into eighths, with lines on the outside.
Cut off pointed tip of triangle along line. Unfold paper; cut along folds to the outside line. Place liner in pan; grease and set aside. Repeat procedure for second pan.
Combine 1/2 cup flour, dates and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl, tossing gently. Set aside.
Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, beating until blended after each addition. Add milk and corn syrup, mixing well.
Combine remaining 3 1/2 cups flour, baking soda and next 4 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with 1 cup brandy, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix at low speed after each addition until blended. Pour over fruit mixture; stir well. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Place pecan halves in flower designs on top of batter, if desired.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool completely in pans on wire racks.
Remove cakes from pans; peel paper from cakes. Wrap in brandy-soaked cheesecloth; store in airtight containers in a cool place. Pour a little brandy over cake each week for at least 1 month. Before serving, place cherry halves in center of pecan flowers, if desired. Yields 2 (5-pound) cakes.