If you do not want to take the time to make your own cake from scratch, use a purchased white cake mix instead - I will not tell!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare 2 or 3 (8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans) by lightly greasing the pans with vegetable shortening, then lining the inside of the pans with parchment paper, and then lightly grease with vegetable shortening the top of the parchment paper. Then dust the inside of the pans with flour. NOTE: The older versions of Lady Baltimore Cake were made with two (2) layers, but most of today's version are made with three (3) layers - your choice.
In a bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In another bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract; set aside.
In a large bowl of your electric mixer, cream together the vegetable shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.
With the mixer on low speed, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add approximately 1/2 of milk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with the remaining flour mixture, and stirring just until blended. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl and using clean beaters, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold approximately 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten the batter, and then fold in the remaining egg whites.
Remove from oven and place the cake pans on wire cooling racks to cool for 10 to 15 minutes; remove from the cake pans and place the cake layers on the wire cooling racks to finish cooling.
Prepare Meringue Frosting.
Prepare Fruit-Nut Filling. Add approximately 1/4 of the prepared Meringue Frosting to the Fruit-Nut mixture; gently stir to combine.
Using a spatula, spread the Fruit-Nut Filling evenly between the cake layers as you put the cake layers togeher. Spread remaining Meringue Frosting on sides and top of cake.
In a large mixing bowl using clean beaters, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved and syrup is clear. Increase heat to high and bring syrup to a boil. Boil without stirring until syrup reaches 248 degrees F. on a candy thermometer, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
With the mixer at medium-high speed, pour the hot syrup slowly, in a thin steady stream, into the previously beaten egg whites. Add vanilla extract and continue beating until the mixture is cool, thick, and shiny, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
In a bowl, combine raisins, figs, candied cherries, and walnuts or pecans; set aside.