The end of year celebrations are only a few short weeks away. It seems to me that the Christmas month has crept on completely unnoticeable. Was it the fault of the longest winter that is having trouble leaving us poor starved for warmth folk of the south-west alone, or have I been so preoccupied with all that has been going in my life that I have completely lost track to time?
I’m hoping this post isn’t coming out too late and still has a chance to be useful for the fast approaching Christmas bake-race.
I have adopted a tradition of spicing the dried fruit a couple of years ago. Doing so definitely makes the baked goodies taste so much better. Infusing the fruit with the spices gives them a rich, piquant flavour. The cakes, fruit mince pies, bread, fruit mince and chocolate truffles all taste so beautiful.
My little munchkins and I have already been baking bread and muffins using the spiced fruit. The last bake was a honey flavoured fruit bread, where honey was added to the buttery dough. It makes a great breakfast and snack to go with the afternoon cuppa.
1 kg mixed dried fruit
200g dried apricots, diced
200g dried dates, diced
200g glazed cherries ( green or red )
100g nude ginger, diced
100 dried prunes, diced
100g dried cranberries
1 orange, peeled
2-3 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla pods
1 1/4 cup brandy
Place dried fruit, orange peel, spices and vanilla pods into a large bowl. Pour brandy in and mix well to combine. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container or a large airtight glass jar. Keep on the counter or a pantry to mix every few days. If keeping in a jar, turn the jar upside down and leave for a few days to then turn back upright again. Repeat every few days until ready to use the fruit.
It is best to soak the fruit at least a week ahead of cooking with them. Soaking for up to a month ahead will allow scents and flavour to develop into a richer fruit mince.
Discard spices, vanilla pods and orange peels prior using the fruit mince.