This is an adaptation of a Caribbean cook's generations-old family recipe.
- 2 cups milk
- 3 (7-gram) packages active dry yeast
- 12 cups flour
- 2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground mace
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 6 cups sugar
- 8 tbsp. butter, melted
- 8 tbsp. lard, melted
- 5 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup raisins
- 3⁄4 cup dried currants
- 12 pitted prunes, quartered
- 1⁄4 cup grated candied citron
- 1⁄4 cup finely ground almonds
- 1⁄2 cup kirsch or other eau-de-vie
- 2 maraschino cherries, stemmed
- 12 whole almonds
Put 1 cup of the milk and 1 cup water into a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat until tepid; then transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over milk, and set aside until softened, about 10 minutes. Gradually beat in 4 cups of the flour with a wooden spoon. Add orange zest, cinnamon, mace, cloves, and cardamom, and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 ½ hours.
Sift together sugar and remaining 8 cups flour in a medium bowl. Gradually add to yeast mixture in large bowl, adding butter and lard alternately and vigorously stirring with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in eggs and remaining 1 cup milk; then add raisins, currants, prunes, citron, ground almonds, and kirsch, and mix well.
Preheat oven to 300°. Divide batter between 2 greased and floured deep 8'' cake pans. Press 1 cherry into center of each, and decorate with almonds. Set aside for 30 minutes. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 3 hours. Loosely cover with foil if cakes get dark. Cool for 10 minutes; then unmold and cool on racks.