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
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.