Monday, 30 November 2015

christmas baking series - candied orange & lime peel

I love how we pick up certain cultures and customs as we grow up. For me Christmas is one of them. I love the scent of Christmas trees, decorations, lights and presents. I also love the constant stream of cheesy Christmas songs and look forward to this time of year - especially as December also happens to be my birthday month. Yes I know, I’ve been short-changed! What’s a girl to do but console herself with the art of feasting? Of course nothing beats a fabulous Christmas feast with all the trimmings. It’s that time of year when we all gather around with our loved ones to indulge (or overindulge!) and celebrate.
It doesn’t matter what your beliefs happen to be – it’s an amazing holiday.

And In the spirit of getting us all into the festive season I’ve decided to start a Christmas baking series with some Christmas inspired recipes from around the world. For the first one I've decided to bring you a fun little project that you won't be able to resist! You didn’t think for a moment that I’d forgotten about baking? I live for baking this time of year and candied citrus peel is a staple for Christmas baking. You can add it to mince pies, a huge array of biscuits, Christmas puddings and cakes and even for decorating. If you’re not really a baker, I still urge you to make this – even if to just add finishing touches to something someone else has baked – and dare I say it shop bought goods!

The added bonus of making your own candied peel is that your kitchen will smell heavenly and you’ll also be left with a good amount of citrus infused syrup which you can incorporate into lots of yummy goodies. In case you’re wondering, I’m planning on making a festive rice pudding with mine!My family always find it odd when I attach myself to the stove when cooking. I barely leave the kitchen for more than a few minutes – whether it’s for a half an hour pasta dish or a two hour curry - I’m 100% committed to physically being in the kitchen and have been known to stare into the oven (if I can) at obsessive intervals. 

The upside is I very rarely ruin a dish or burn anything. However, when making the candied peel I decided to part with my trusted kitchen wisdom and play maverick for the afternoon and very nearly cried in defeat. I almost burnt the peel when they were simmering during the syrup stage, so I’d suggest tempting as it is to leave the stove unattended for 30 minutes or so while you have that cup of tea and watch a Bollywood movie – don’t! Just be check once to avoid disaster and burnt sugar – which is never pleasant. At least you can’t call me inflexible.

Inspired by Bright Eyed Baker.

Ingredients (enough candied peel for 2/3 recipes)
2 oranges – naval or valencia
2 limes
250ml water (plus more for blanching)
500g granulated sugar

Rinse and dry your oranges and limes and cut off the tops and bottoms. Score and lightly cut the skin of the fruits vertically into six segments and carefully remove the peel from the flesh. Slice each pieces of peel into half and place all the pieces into a pan.

Add enough cold water to cover the peel and bring to a boil on high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes and drain. Repeat this process twice more. This will remove the bitterness from the peel. Once done set aside drained peel.

To make the syrup for the next stage, add 250ml of water and 300g of granulated sugar to a clean pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is bubbling add the peel. Do not stir as this will crystallise the syrup. Just lift up the pan once the peel is in and swirl the syrup around a bit to cover all the peel.

Simmer the peel in the sugar syrup for 30 minutes on low heat. Check and adjust heat if necessary at 10 minute intervals. If the syrup appears too dry just add a touch more water and lift the pan and swirl. Do not stir.

While the peel is cooking in the syrup prepare the sugar coating by placing 200g of granulated sugar on a baking tray.

After 30 minutes remove the peel off the heat and carefully transfer the peel with a slotted spoon straight onto the sugar on the tray. Use a fork to mix in the sugar and coat each piece completely.

Leave the sugar coated candied peel to dry out for at least 6 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container or jar with a little sugar at the base. And there you have it! Perfectly candied citrus peel for adding to lots of yummy baked treats. You can use them for up to four weeks.

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