Relative amounts of dried and candied fruit can be varied, but the total amount of fruit should be about 5 cups.
Additional fruit and nuts can be added if you like lots in your fruitcake.
Chop fruit as necessary.
Halve the green and red candied cherries, and very coarsely chop apricots and dried pineapple.
Very coarsely chop pecans.
Place fruit and nuts in a large bowl, and toss well with the 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
Cream softened butter and sugar, using an electric mixer, until well combined.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, and set aside.
Sift all dry ingredients, and stir until well combined.
Stir 1/3 cup bourbon into milk in measuring cup.
Using an electric mixer, alternately, add flour mixture and milk mixture to the creamed butter, starting and ending with flour, mixing to combine well after each addition.
When thoroughly combined, toss flour coated fruit and nuts again, and fold into batter using a large wooden spoon or spatula.
Place rack in middle of oven with second rack below, place a cookie sheet on the lower rack to shield loaf pans from heat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 5-6 mini-loaf pans (3"x5½x2") loaf pans or a 10" tube pan (preferably with a removable bottom), and line with greased wax paper.
If using mini-loaf pans just press 5 or 5½ wide pieces crosswise in pans; dont worry about the pan ends.
Fill pans just to the top or a little below with batter, dividing evenly.
Fruitcakes will rise just a little above the top a little during baking, but they wont overflow.
If using mini-loaf pans, bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean, If using a tube pan, bake for about 1-1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Pans should be shuffled about and turned after half of baking time has passed to ensure that fruitcake (s) bake evenly.
When done, remove fruitcakes from oven, and set on cooling racks to cool for 10 minutes.
Turn fruitcakes out of pans, peel off wax paper, and set on cooling racks for another 10 minutes.
Brush loaves generously with dry sherry, and return to racks to cool completely.
Allow to set overnight, covered, for sherry to soak in to loaves.
Cut cheesecloth into pieces large enough wrap each loaf in a double or triple layer, and soak cheesecloth pieces in 1/2 cup bourbon.
Wrap loaves in the cheesecloth, and sprinkle any remaining bourbon on top.
Wrap in foil, and set in a cool place to age for 1 week.
Carefully peel back foil, and brush or spray each loaf with remaining 1/2 cup bourbon.
Replace foil, and allow loaves to age 1 more week before eating or giving as gifts.
This brushing and aging process can be repeated several more times if desired, assuming that you started well before Christmas.
This recipe can easily be doubled if your oven is large enough to handle all the pans.