This is the third post in a blog series called Bakers’ Basics with Marcy Goldman. In this post, she shares her favorite spiced desserts. Here’s Marcy:
The Mistress of Spices, a wonderful novel (also a film) by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is set in a lavish spice store where its owner, Tilo, is both spell caster and spice witch. Her domain is ‘the spices’ and her loyalty to them, in service to administering to others (especially the lovelorn), is admirable.
There’s just one problem: the ‘spices’ (an entity unto themselves) ask their mistress to abandon her own heart’s desires. This means Tilo can never fall in love herself and instead is married to the spices and their curative powers (spices are great in baking but they hardly are husband material). Tilo maintains that ‘everyone has a spice.’ Hers is sesame, and the man she loves? His is chili – oh so passionate! There’s a happy ending to this spice love story, but there’s an even better spice story going on in your own kitchen.
What spice are you? Fall is an excellent time to think about it. Just stroll down the spice aisle of your supermarket or favorite bulk food store. Or browse some amazing online spice shops; I fall in love with spices all over again just reading about the varieties to try. Are you warm cinnamon, exotic cardamom or perky allspice? You can be a spice-a-day for this season of hospitality.
Now recipes for cookies, scones, muffins, biscotti and more all call for spices – because not only do spices uplift your baking, but they’re a great counterpoint to the nip in the air. The only thing you mustn’t do when it comes to spices is use old ones or less than fine-quality ones.
New harvests deserve a fresh batch of spices, so freshen up your canisters and jars. Invest in the finest, fragrant spices you can find to make your recipes swell in flavor and dimension. Don’t use cinnamon or nutmeg in a recipe without first smelling it to see it’s viable. Stale spices ruin the baking, but fresh spices are gold!
Great home baking demands so little and delivers so much. That little bit of spice a recipe calls for might as well be one more jewel in the crown of your finished loaf, cake or cookie. Be a mistress of spices and you’ll find yourself master of your baker’s domain. And don’t forget, since it’s a brand new season of baking, to not only refresh your spices, but make sure you’re using a fresh can of baking powder, too!
Chewy Crumble Buttermilk Spice Cake
Mouth-watering, buttery and tender, this reminds you of New England B&B. Everything in this recipe depend on using the finest of simple things, such as the best quality cinnamon and freshest nutmeg. The chewy crumble topping is addictive; try not to just eat that and leave the cake!
Cinnamon Ripple Biscotti
These nicely crunchy biscotti whip up in a flash. Just invest in quality, fresh cinnamon and then text message the coffee klatch gals to come over quick! I’m so fussy about the cinnamon component that I order a selection of cassia, Ceylon, and Vietnamese cinnamons and mix them together for a hot, sweet, lively cinnamon blend.
Rusks are a nice, crisp cookie. These are gently spiced and fragrant in the way only something made with almonds, sour cream, butter and cardamom could be. A perfect cookie-jar cookie.