Boil sugar, shortening, water, raisins and spices for 5 minutes; remove from heat and let cool completely.
Mix dry ingredients together; add to cooled mixture stirring by hand.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour cake mixture into a large greased and floured loaf pan or 3 smaller aluminum loaf pans and place walnut halves across the top of cake(s). Bake for 1 hour, stick a toothpick in center of cake, if it comes out wet bake for an additional 10 minutes. Cool; pour brandy over the top of the cake and cover with aluminum foil. Let sit in a dark place for at least 3 months for the raisins to ferment.
For Vanilla Sauce: Bring milk and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Beat yolks and 2 Tbsp sugar together until light and lemon-colored.
Remove pan from heat and pour milk over eggs, stirring vigorously. Pour milk mixture into pan and heat, without boiling, until thickened.
Remove from heat; add vanill and butter and stir.
NOTE: This cake will keep for quite awhile. If it should become hard around the edges, just make the vanilla sauce and pour over it.