I’m still struggling with depression (going to see my doctor today), so I’ve been trying to think of fun and not-too-complicated things to do to cheer myself up. And I was rooting through my jams and jellies the other day for my mom (who likes such things), and found the candied citron, lemon peel, bergamot peel, and orange peel that I’d made in my fit of candying. And we had just visited a family friend who makes divine fruitcake, and had been nice enough to give me the recipe.
So, yes, I am on my way to making fruitcake.
The recipe involves the following ingredients (for 10 loaf-sized fruitcakes):
- Dried papaya
- Dried apricots
- Dried pineapple slices
- Dried figs
- Glace green cherries
- Glace red cherries
- Crystallized ginger chunks
- Pitted chopped dates
- Golden raisins
- Candied diced citron peeel
- Candied diced orange peel
- Candied diced lemon peel
- Angel flake dried coconut, sweetened
- Slivered blanched almonds
- Unsalted butter
- Orange flower water (if available)
- Vanilla extract
- Unbleached flour, baking powder, salt
- pineapple juice
- Southern Comfort (for sprinkling cakes)
- Amaretto (for sprinkling cakes)
I went shopping last night and managed to find all the ingredients except the dried papaya (for which I am substituting dried mango) and the glace cherries. (Those are the atrocious little red and green things you find in supermarkets around Christmastime, which are almost but not quite totally unlike the cherries they’re supposed to be.) Since I don’t much like glace cherries, I wasn’t crying too hard over those, but Mike feels they’re a crucial component, and he likes fruitcake more than I do (i.e. is apt to be the primary consumer). So, since the only mail order place I could locate is on the East Coast and would take a week to get them to me, I decided to make my own glace cherries. Less traditional, and Mike may be heartbroken over the lack of bright green “cherries”, but I think they’ll taste better.
So this morning I got up, pitted 2 lbs of cherries, and blanched them in boiling water. I then strained out the cherries and added a boatload of sugar to the blanching water (now full of cherry juice, so i didn’t want to just discard it), brought it to a boil and boiled it to 217F, at which point it was about 40% sugar by weight. This is the starting-point according to the confectionery book I use for candymaking. Every day, I’ll increase the % sugar by 5% or so until it reaches 75%, at which point (in theory at least) the cherries will be shelf-stable and can be tossed cheerfully into the fruitcake without worry. And, unlike green glace cherries, they may actually taste like cherries.
For the rest, I’m using homemade candied citrus peel but have purchased the other ingredients. I can’t wait to taste that candied Meyer lemon peel in fruitcake! I think it’s one of the tastiest things ever.