Soaking fruits marks the beginning of the festive season. I used to panic couple of years back about the very thought of rich fruit cake. Today it seems quite easy as breeze but it took me so many days to get aquainted with all the process which makes it more than any regular cake. I wanted to soak fruits the traditional way and I had to do a lot of study to hunt those old methods and am finally very happy about the way I have soaked my fruits this year. Theraupatic!
- Cinnamon – 1 inch
- Nutmeg – 1, break them roughly.
- Caraway seeds – 1 tsp
- Cloves – 6
- Ginger powder – 1 tsp
- 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- Raisins – 1 cup
- Sultanas – 1 cup
- Seedless dates – 1 Cup
- Glaced red cherries – 1 cup
- Citrus fruit peel – 1/2 cup
- Apricots – 1/4 cup
- Figs – 1/4 cup
* Combination of fruits are completely your choice. This adds upto 5 cups in total. You can adjust them between a 3 to 5 cup based on your taste.
- Granulated white sugar – 2 cups
- water – 1/2 cup
- water – 1 cup (to “stop” the caramelization process)
- Rum/Brandy/Whisky – 1 cup ( or combine a pair of alcohol along with red wine)
* Use a total of 1/2 cup in case you want lesser alcohol
1. Chop the fruits finely. Keep aside
2. Process the spices in your small jar food processor along with granulated white sugar until it is fine powder. This might take 3 to 5 minutes on high speed. Use a seive to sift the mixture. Do not over sift, let the granule particles stay on top. Remove it and grind again if needed or store it for later. Use the fine powder that has been collected at the bottom.
3. For caramel syrup: In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the sugar and 1/2 cup water and switch on stove on high flame. The sugar will melt and start boiling. Use a wooden spoon to mix until it comes to a rolling boil. Bring down flame to medium high. Have a pastry brush handy and a cup of water. Now do not stir anymore but use the pastry brush and brush some water and touch the sides of the pan which might tend to brown first. The colour of the sugar syrup will change from white to beige. Do not stir but shake the vessel slightly. Keep it back on fire. Colour will start changing now a little quickly from beige to brown. Once the whole caramel becomes brown in colour switch off stove and remove the vessel from stove. Wear your mittens and pour the additional 1 cup of water, standing at a distance. Pour the water slowly, a little at time. The caramel in the vessel will try to bubble up. Do not panic. Keep pouring the remaining water a little at a time, away from a distance until the whole water has been used up. Now mix the water to blend with the syrup completely and put it back on fire on high flame for a couple of minutes until it thickens a little bit. Do not leave it again for long, else you will have a very thick and sticky caramel. Cool it down completely and store in airtight container. This you can do few days ahead and refrigerate. Make sure you dont have your kids around doing this process.
Here is a video link to elaborate more on the caramel syrup process. Watch the wet caramel syrup starts at 4th minute of the video.
4. In a wide vessel add all the chopped fruits. Use a dispossible gloves and start kneading the fruits trying to mash the fruits thoroughly. Now add the caramel syrup and mash again so the syrup blends completely. Now add the spice powder and mash again. Finally add alcohol and mash again.
5. Transfer the prepared fruits in a porcelain jar/any airtight container and close it. Place the container safely until use.
6. Turn over the container, if using airtight plastic jars, every two days so the flavour mingles thoroughly all over. If using porcelain jar, give it a shake every 2 days and put it back in place. Do not open it regularly to visit. Let it be closed until use. Do not use your hands to pick up fruits from the jar.
7. If steps properly followed you can soak this method for a year. Make sure you add alcohol every month or two if soaking for more than couple of months.
8. This batch will make one recipe or 1.5 times a recipe. You can soak as many batches with different combination of fruits/alcohol.