A summer after dinner shot or a curious cocktail. Summer is here, the trees and gardens are groaning with fruit. Are you fed up with making jam and chutney? Then, try this amazing brew. In my local supermarket the price of strawberries is staggeringly little! 1.5€ per 500g of strawberries. Plus 37.5% ABV, cheap white rum is coming in at just 9.50€ per litre. It would be rude not to put them to good use!
1kg granulated sugar.
1.5l cheap white rum.
Remove the ‘hulls’ and cut the strawberries into halves, smaller for big berries. Don’t worry about a bit of dust on the fruit. The alcohol will kill any bugs and it will settle to the bottom and be decanted out when you the finish making the product.
Put the cut fruit into a large preserving jar as in the photograph.
Pour in the sugar then the rum.
Shake well, immediately and then intermittently until the sugar dissolves in the rum/fruit juice mixture.
Put the jar in a cool dark cupboard.
Shake the jar daily for a week.
After a week, leave the jar alone for a month or so, longer if you have the patience. The fruit will gradually settle to the bottom of the jar.
When you are happy that no more flavour can be extracted, strain the fruit from the rum.
Finally return the strained rum into a clean, second, preserving jar. Add the whipped up whites of two eggs to the part finished rum, stir well and watch as bits of fruit pulp and “stuff” flocculates (settles) to the bottom of the jar.
Allow the settling process to continue for about a week, or until the rum above is brilliantly clear.
Carefully decant the clear rum into clean jugs without disturbing the “goo,” in winemakers speak these are called the ‘lees,’ on the jar bottom.
Finally bottle the finished rum in clean, clear, used white wine bottles and seal them with plastic ‘corks.’ Label and date the bottles. Put one in the fridge ready to drink, store others on their sides in a wine rack.
Drink iced as a shot after dinner or, for a summer twist pour over ice, add a good sprig of mint, a slice of orange and mix 50:50 with soda water or fizzy lemonade.
More lees will appear, try to pour drinks without disturbing them, they’ll do you no harm – it just doesn’t look good to serve a cloudy drink. You can use many different kinds of fruit to make similar brews. Limoncello is made from lemons in a similar way (use the zest and the juice, not the pith) and works very well. Apricots are good too, although the flavour is more delicate.
The decanted lees, both first and second pouring can be saved and used when/if a cake mix calls for booze to be added!
Boiled Fruit Cake
Mandy’s never fail, boiled fruit cake – Mandy is the chef patronne of Laskill House Country Hotel. Oh and before you think I’ve gone even more ‘Ga Ga’ it’s the fruit that gets boiled, not the cake! Mandy’s hospitality is legendary. Her place is tucked away in Bilsdale about five miles north of Helmsley, in God’s own country and truly beautiful.
Having arrived late after a full and busy day, what a lovely surprise it was to find a little box, beside the tea and coffee kit in my room, which had a generous chunk of this cake inside. Not exactly the ideal food to go to bed on but I was shattered and it really touched the spot.
Since then I’ve left some out for the houseguests coming stay to my apartment at “El Observatorio” and they love it.
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 generous pinch salt
1 generous tablespoon glycerine (from good pharmacies)
3 eggs beaten
280gm plain flour
250gm sugar (Demerara if you want a brown looking result)
250ml water (I once used the settled dregs from some homemade Hierebas, it was brilliant!)
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar.
Set the oven to 160ºC
Line a well oiled rectangular 21cm cake tin with baking parchment.
First put the dried fruit, butter, sugar, spices together with the water (or booze – be careful though, if you use full strength liquor it could burst into flames, dilute it 50:50 with water) into a large’ish pan and bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 15/20 minutes to let the fruit absorb the liquid. Give the mixture a stir from time to time so that nothing sticks to the pan bottom.
Whisk the eggs and glycerine.
Sift and stir the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl
When the fruit is nicely plumped up, pour the contents of the pan over the flour and stir vigorously until the batter has absorbed all the lovely gooey fruit and liquid.
Finally whilst still stirring vigorously, add the egg mixture. It really is important to stir the eggs and batter together quickly. If not the egg will cook before it mixes in!
Pour the batter into the baking tin, sprinkle the top with a generous desert spoon of Demerara sugar and set it to cook on a lower middle shelf in the oven for about 60/70 minutes.
Check in the usual way with a skewer after about an hour and make your own mind up about when to take the cake from the oven.
Set the cake aside, in its tin, for about 30 minutes then turn it out onto a rack to cool. If you can resist, wait at least a day before eating. That’s what the glycerine is for. It helps the baked cake to reabsorb atmospheric moisture and become lovely and sticky.