In baking, fruit peel usually refers to little pieces of candied citrus peel. These sweet and tart morsels can add texture and taste to cakes, minced pies and fruit puddings. They also make an attractive edible cake decoration. You can make fruit peel at home or buy it ready-prepared in stores. However, unless cooked and prepared properly, peel is tough and bitter. Make sure your fruit peel is ready before adding to cakes.
Peel Not Pith
Peel, particularly in fruit such as lemon, orange and grapefruit, contains sweetness and fruit flavor. The bitterness many associate with peel actually comes from the white pith that clings to the inside of the peel. Pith does not belong in cake. To remove pith, use a sharp paring knife to scrape it away from the underside of fresh peel.
Blanch and Boil
While peel contains some natural sweetness, cake recipes usually require candied peel. To candy peel, you must first soften it up. This involves cutting fruit peel such as lemon and orange into strips around 1/4 inch wide. Put the peel in a pan of cold water and set on the stove. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. You should repeat this process three times, leaving you with soft, moist peel.
Sweet Like Candy
You can't have candy without sugar. Once the peel is soft, mix equal parts sugar and water and boil until it turns to syrup. The idea is to replace all the water and moisture in the peel with sugar syrup. Drop the peel into the syrup and boil gently for 45 minutes. Allow it to cool overnight in the pot, then repeat the process two more times. The peel needs to be spread out and dried for around a day, then dusted with sugar before use.
Make Your Cakes
If you have a jar of ready-made fruit peel, you can use it in your cake baking right away. For example, for a large cake that serves 10 to 12 people with a single slice each, you might need 3 ounces of chopped candied citrus peel. This adds little sugary nibbles throughout the cake mix. Alternatively, leave the peel in long strips and arrange them artistically on the top of the freshly baked cake for extra decoration.
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