Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
Cream shortening; gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar, beating well. Add vanilla; beat well.
Combine cake flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with skim milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Beat 5 egg whites (at room temperature) until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter.
Spoon batter into 2 prepared cake pans. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove layers from pans, and let cool completely.
Cream butter; gradually add remaining sugar, beating well. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, remaining baking powder, salt, and cloves; add to creamed mixture alternately with 1 cup milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup chopped cherries, and raisins.
Spoon batter into the one remaining prepared cake pan.
Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove layer from pan, and let cool completely.
Spread filling between layers and on top, placing the dark layer between the two white layers. Spread frosting on sides of cake. Garnish top of cake with 1/2 cup pecans and cherry halves, if desired.