As we already mentioned here, we really are fans of adding spices to our dishes when we are cooking in order to give them that little bit extra oomph. From exotic spices from the most far-flung reaches of the globe, to everyday spices that can be grown on our back doorstep, we really are fans. One common misconception that people make is that spices are the sole domain of savoury cooking, when this really isn’t the case. You only have to remember that vanilla and cinnamon are both considered spices to realise that spices are just as an important ingredient in sweet dishes too! One of the main points of spices is to emphasise and enhance the flavours of a recipe, so it is only natural that you can do this for a delicious sweet treat too. You can find all about two of our favourite spices for sweet baked goods right here.
We’ve already talked about cardamom in a precious post, so we’re going to just jump straight in with the heavyweight spice of the baking world, cinnamon. True cinnamon which is considered to have the most refined and delicate taste, hails from Sri Lanka and southern India, and has been in use since prehistoric times. Nowadays, in terms of baking, we find it most often in apple dishes as well as in Christmas dishes. In fact, who can say that the smell of home-baking heavy with the smell of cinnamon doesn’t immediately evoke thoughts of Christmas? For practical purposes in baking, ground cinnamon is more convenient for an evenly spread taste of the spice throughout your baked goods. However, for things such as mulled wine and other festive drinks, do try to use a cinnamon stick for a subtle flavour that will make your tipple taste amazing. Alternatively, you can always keep things simple and enjoy a slice of melon with a light dusting of cinnamon on top.
Vanilla has to be one of the most popular flavours of spice in the world thanks to its deliciously sweet and perfumed taste. You can find synthetic reproductions of it everywhere from beauty products to cheap ice cream, but everybody knows that for the full experience, you have to enjoy the real thing. As the second most expensive spice in the world with the most coveted vanilla products coming from the island of Madagascar, there are various ways that you can add vanilla to your baking. One of the easiest ways is with a good quality vanilla extract which means the taste will permeate your entire recipe. Alternatively, if you prefer, why not make your own vanilla sugar by leaving a vanilla pod in a bag of sugar for a week or so until the flavour has been absorbed by the sugar, which can then be easily used in your baking. Even better, the vanilla pod will still have loads of flavour left and you can recreate this vanilla sugar more than once using the same pod. This method is particularly popular in Scandinavia where vanilla sugar is often favoured in lieu of standard.