I love focusing on flavour in my bakes; flavour is by far the key consideration when I am baking, whether I am recreating a favourite bake or working on a new idea. And excellent quality ingredients are always my priority.
I was very fortunate to have received some spices from Absolute Spice and I cannot stop using them! In fact I am excitedly finding ways to use them as much as I can in my bakes as well as in my general cooking.
Absolute Spice has a terrific array of spices, many familiar and some less so. The spices I have used already (dried lemongrass, galangal powder and fennel powder) have a fuller flavour and cleaner taste than many of the dried spices I have bought previously from the supermarket and have a great intensity: to say they come alive when being used in bakes is no understatement!
I cannot wait to add to my collection with their exceptional spices: it really is like a whole new world of flavours, just waiting to be re-discovered!
Not only are the flavours of the spices superb, they are excellent value for money and they store very well: I empty the spices into clean, dry jars and store in a cupboard, but they do not stay there long!!!
Although galangal is related to ginger, and carries a hint of ginger flavour, it does not have the same flavour, but it is a lovely spice in its own right. I think it has more of a peppery kick, with a deep flavour, adding a rich spicy note.
I love using galangal in cakes: about 2 level teaspoons of galangal powder per 150g flour gives a good depth of flavour.
I recently used the galangal powder to make a very easy and quick galangal & lime cake, as well as some galangal cupcakes, which had a wonderful combination of sharp-spicy-sweet flavours:
My recipe for this cake can be found here.
Lemongrass has always been one of my favourites, and the dried lemongrass pieces have a great intensity of flavour at a fraction of the cost you would spend if you used fresh lemongrass.
I love adding lemongrass to stocks when making Thai-style soups, but it is terrific added to milk, brought to a simmer and the left to infuse: stunning as a base for custard bakes such as lemongrass crème brûlée. About 10g of dried lemongrass per 400ml liquid gives a good depth of flavour.
I recently used dried lemongrass to make lemongrass custard tarts:, my take on the classic Portugeuse custard tarts:
My recipe for these tarts can be found here.
Now I love fennel in all of its forms, but fennel powder is a particularly great product: hugely convenient, packed with that wonderful aniseed flavour and a terrific addition to so many dishes: not least where pork is involved, as fennel is a perfect complement to pork.
I heartily recommend sausage rolls, using fennel powder to be a key flavour in the filling. And if, like me, you love making pastry, try adding a few teaspoons to the flour at the start to give a great tasting spiced pastry. Seriously, if you have never tried a fennel-flavoured puff pastry, then you really must make some…..or go for the much easier and quicker rough-puff version.
My recipe for sausage and chorizo rolls in a fennel pastry is one I cannot stop making: each time I make a batch, the sausage rolls are devoured very quickly. My recipe for these different but, I think, exciting sausage rolls can be found here.
Try adding a few teaspoons of fennel powder to the flour when making bread: focaccia with a touch of fennel flavour is a particularly joyous thing to eat!
I will post my recipes for the lemongrass custard tarts and my galangal & lime cake shortly.
In the meantime, do pop along to Absolute Spice: I defy you not to be in awe at their product range and think up a wealth of terrific ideas for using them in all manner of cooking.