Beat shortening and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together 2 cups of the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. Add alternately with applesauce to creamed mixture; blend well. Stir in oats.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup flour with raisins, dates, cherries and nutmeats; stir to coat fruits and nutmeats evenly with flour. Stir into batter. Pour into 2 greased and waxed paper-lined 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" loaf pans.
Bake in preheated very slow oven (275 F.) about 2 hours. Set pan of hot water in bottom of oven while loaves are baking. Loosen edges; cool on wire rack about 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool thoroughly. Wrap cooled bread and store one day before slicing.
Source: Our Favorites for family and friends Reprinted with permission from The Quaker Oats Company Electronic format courtesy of Karen Mintzias