Gather all ingredients, place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Grease and flour (or spray with Baker's Joy) a tube cake pan, bundt cake pan or 3 regular cake pans.
In large mixing bowl (or stand mixer) cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add 4 egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each.
In a separate bowl, (the old recipe says to do this 4 or 5 times, but 2 or 3 is okay) sift together flour, soda, spices and salt.
Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the creamed mixture and mix well.
Add 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix well.
Once again, add 1/3 dry to wet and mix; add remainder of butter milk and mix.
Add remainder of flour mixture and mix.
Fold in preserves, jam, raisins/dates and pecans.
In separate bowl, beat the 4 reserved egg whites to soft peaks.
Fold approximately 1/4 of the whites into the batter.
When combined, gently fold in remainder of beaten whites until no white streaks remain.
Pour into prepared pan(s) and smooth the batter some.
Bake in preheated 300 degree oven for 35 to 50 minutes (depending on which pan you use) or until toothpick, inserted (center of regular cake pans and 2 inches from side of pan for tube and bundt pans) comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes; then place a cake plate on top and invert; shake pan slightly to release cake; remove pan and allow cake to cool completely (uncovered) at room temperature before preparing the icing. (See NOTE)
Prepare the caramel icing. In a sauce pan, over medium heat, melt butter.
Add brown sugar and bring to a boil over medium to medium high heat; stirring constantly, cook for about 1 minute, until slightly thick.
Remove from heat, let cool slightly then add milk and beat until smooth.
Gradually add, and beat in, confectioners sugar, until icing is of spreading consistency.
Working quickly, ice the cooled cake immediately.
Leave cake uncovered and let sit in a cool area (not the refrigerator) for 2-3 days before serving. (It may sound strange, but that's the way it's done.)
Cover after slicing. Cake may be cooked and frozen ahead of time without icing. Thaw completely and allow to come to room temperature before icing.
NOTE: If using regular cake pans, spread bottom and middle cake layers with additional strawberry or blackberry jam to within 1 inch of edge. (Do not spread jam on top layer.) Assemble layers, then make and apply icing. You may, also, make a double batch of icing and use instead of the jam in between the layers.