Soaking fruits for christmas- The easy way out!
Red is the colour of the season, and fruits are the flavours of the season. Why not, after all the countdown to christmas begins. Every baker small or big starts planning for this celebration well in advance. Little tinker bells adorning colourful blog posts, fruity aromas from the ovens, dry fruits soaked in liquor , glitter and glamour, oh its a baker’s paradise! Rich fruit cakes- boozy, non-boozy, citrusy, tea flavoured… so many varieties.
Traditional cakes have a lot of pre-soaked fruits in alcohol like rum, vodka, wine etc. They can be soaked anywhere between 1 year to 1 day before the day of baking. I am someone who is little less organised and doesn’t bother about soaking dry fruits, only to sulk seeing the gorgeous beauties of fruit cakes on foodie groups and other blog posts. Now, if you are as lazy as me, you woudn’t bother to do it an year ahead or even a month ahead. For lazy bones like us who proscarinate about doing them in time every year but keep postponing it, there are some last minute quick fixes. Since there are so many variations as in the soaker used, type of the fruits, duration, method of preperation, I will just list out few common and easy ones and meanwhile will keep updating as and when I try out other methods.
Let me list out the dry fruits/nuts which are used in general. This is just a guideline and you can change the type/proportion according to your preferences and availability.
- Black raisins- 100 gm ( roughly one cup)
- Golden raisins- 100 gm ( roughly one cup)
- Prunes (chopped into quarters) -100 gm ( roughly one cup)
- Dates ( roughly chopped) -100 gm ( roughly one cup)
- Figs ( roughly chopped)- -100 gm ( roughly one cup)
- Dried cranberries- -100 gm ( roughly one cup)
- Dried /glazed cherries- half a cup
- Tooty fruity ( optional) – I didnt use
- Candied orange peel ( recipe below)- half a cup
- Candied ginger (recipe below)- quarter cup
- Other options according to availability: dried apricots, peaches, pineapple etc
Note: Make sure you use cleaned and dried dry fruits. If buying loose raisins/ currents, wash them thoroughly and dry them before soaking. I used all pre cleaned and pre packed fruits, so just had to chop them and soak.
- Almonds – 100 gm
- Cashews- 100 gm
- walnuts- 100 gm
Note: Nuts lose their crunch once soaked. You can either soak them with other fruits or roast and use them in the cake batter while baking. while using almonds, blanch them in hot water for few minutes, remove the peel, chop and use to soak or roast and use in batter.
- Cinnamon- 1 teaspoon
- Nutmeg – 1 teaspoon
- Cloves – 1 teaspoon
- Orange and/ lemon zest – 1 generous tablespoon
Rum/ Vodka/ Red wine- 250 to 300 ml ( use good quality liquor)
Note: Go easy on spices when soaking for long time, as they lose their flavour. So, for soaking fruits for longer time, its better to add little spice at the time of soaking, and little more in the batter while baking the cake.When following the instant method of boiling the fruits either in alcohol or fruit juice, which is usually used up next day or within week, you may add adequate spices in the liquid itself along with fruits.
Method using alcohol:
- Keep dry, cleaned and sterilised airtight storage bottles ready before starting the process. Make sure they are glass, as plastic/metal reacts with alcohol.
- Alcohol brings the best of flavours in the cake, especially when soaked for months ahead. so this method is the most commonly used.
- Dump all the cleaned dry fruits in a a large bowl. If you dont want to lose the nutyy bites of almonds and cashews , then you can avoid soaking them. Instead add them in roasted form while mixing the batter.
- Pour enough rum/vodka/red wine sufficient to soak and cover the fruits completely. I ended up using around 300 ml of dark rum.
- Add some orange zest, spices and transfer into clean air tight bottles.
- Make this at least two weeks ahead to get a good flavour.The more the time the better.
Recipe completely adapted from cakes and more.
- Orange juice: 1 cup/ from 2 oranges
- Orange zest- 1 tablespoon
- Brown sugar ( or white granulated) – 2 tablespoons
- Fruits and nuts as required.
- In a pan, mix orange zest and juice stirring it well.
- Switch on the flame, add brown sugar, let it dissolve well.
- Now add all the dry fruits/nuts/ candied peels one after the other.
- Add spices and mix well.
- Bring them to a boil, then simmer and let them cook for few minutes till the raisins become plump.
- While the mixture is still liquidy, switch off the gas, cool the mixture,transfer it to air tight glass bottles and store it in refrigerator for over night or at least 10 hours.
- Use them in fruit cake baking.
Note: You can also use tea decoction to boil the fruits. Make sure you use good quality tea like Darjeeling to bring out best of the flavours. If you want instant alcoholic soak, then boil the same fruits in rum/vodka / red wine with spices for 10 minutes, let them cool down for 30 minutes and then use in batter straightaway. You can also store them in air tight glass jars to be used within a week or so.
Candied orange peel: Recipe from cakes and more
- Oranges ( firm ones, with peel firmly adhered to flesh of the fruit)- 2
- Water- 1/2 cup
- Sugar- 1/3 cup
- Giving superficial slits to the fruit like a ‘X’ dividing the fruit into four parts.
- Gently peel out the skin of oranges.
- Cut it into thin long slices.
- In a vessel, boil sufficient water, so that the peels are completely soaked.
- Add the orange peels and boil for 5-8 minutes.
- Drain all the water, collect the peels and boil them again in fresh water.
- This boiling in two steps reduces the bitterness of the peels.
- Now, in half cup of water dissolve sugar,heat and add the boiled peels.
- Cover the vessel and let the peels cook in the sugar syrup for 30 minutes.
- Keep flipping and stirring the peels in between so that they dont get burnt.
- When the peels are softened and absorb most of the syrup, sweitch off the gas, let the peels cool on a cooling rack or a plate.
- Once cooled chop them into small pieces and use in fruit cakes, or roll them in granulated sugar/ metled chocolate and serve as dessert.
- Fresh Ginger- peeled and thinly sliced into rounds 1/2 cup
- water- 1/2 cup
- sugar – 1/3
Similar to candied orange peel, boil the sliced ginger twice in boiled water, and cook in sugar syrup for 30 minutes until the slices are softened, stirring and turning them intermittently. Chop them finely and store in airtight containers until further use.
Soak your fruits in some rum, yourselves in the balmy winter sun and your lives in the warmth of your special one!! Happy soaking and Merry christmas!!