Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a 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. Remove the strips of lemon zest and discard the zest. Set syrup aside.
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 reserve the syrup.
Cream the butter, sugar
, and almond paste
together in the bowl of an electric mixer
fitted with a paddle attachment 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
, 1 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 orange
liqueur 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 350 degrees F.
12 mini disposable loaf pans (about 3 1/2 inches by 5 3/4 inches). Divide the batter
evenly between the pans, about 1 cup each. Bake until golden and the tops spring back when touched, 35 to 40 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. Wrap cakes well in a decorative manner if giving as gifts.
Serve the cakes with the Whiskey Sauce.