When it comes to baking with spice, we all know the classics. Festive ginger in a classic ginger biscuit, a sprinkle of cinnamon in an apple crumble or allspice mixed into a sponge cake, but they’re all a bit, well, boring. If you really want to add some welly to your baking, have a dive into the depths of your spice cupboard for some inspiration. Farmdrop’s in-house baker, Meg Weal, guides you through it.
Spices like black pepper, turmeric and chilli can add some serious edge to otherwise overly sweet bakes. Freshly ground black pepper brings a new lease of life to an apple pie (especially with an added sprinkle of ground coriander). Turmeric in your bread not only makes for a gorgeous coloured loaf and a hit of antioxidants, but gives a savoury edge that works perfectly when topped with a spread of honey and a chunk of Cheddar. Nutmeg and maple syrup make a gorgeous pairing in just about anything and clove works wonders with pumpkin. Or try adding caraway seeds to your next honey cake.
Baking with spice doesn’t necessarily mean adding it straight into the batter or dough mix. Working spice into buttercream is a great way to add flavour and punch to something that can sometimes verge on being too sweet (more on that here). If making a cake, infuse a sugar syrup with your spice of choice and drizzle it over your sponges. The result? Perfectly moist cakes that have quite the kick to them.
Which spice is my go-to? The humble chilli flake is my personal favourite when it comes to ramping things up in the baking department. Try a teaspoon sprinkled over baked pineapple and mango for an unreal sweet heat. Chilli also pairs brilliantly with chocolate, helping to amplify its flavour and aroma, as well as adding a nice hum of heat. This recipe for chocolate and chilli tart combines the two so well. It’s perfect for a dinner party (or a solo Sunday) and great paired with a zingy crème fraîche to cut through all that richness.
Chocolate & Chilli Tart
Photography: Natalé Towell. Recipe: Meg Weal.
For the pastry
– 260g plain flour
– 100g butter
– 4 tsp cocoa powder
– 2 tbsp icing sugar
– 2 egg yolks
– 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
For the filling
– 350g double cream
– 150ml full-fat milk
– 1 tsp chilli flakes, plus extra to serve
– 400g dark chocolate, chopped
– 2 eggs, beaten
1. Using your fingertips, rub the flour and butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Sift in the cocoa and icing sugar, then add the yolks, oil and 3 tablespoons of cold water. Bring it all together to form a dough, making sure not to overwork it. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the cream, milk and chilli flakes in a pan. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer on a low heat for 1 hour to infuse.
3. Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Roll out the chilled pastry to fit a shallow 25cm cake tin. Place it into the tin, pressing gently with your fingers.
4. Blind bake for 25 minutes, or until golden, removing the baking beans after 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC.
5. Once ready, strain the cream mixture into a large heatproof bowl, discarding the chilli flakes.
6. Stir in the chocolate so it melts, then slowly mix in the beaten eggs.
7. Pour the filling into the cooled pastry case and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until starting to set, but still with a slight wobble.
8. Leave to cool and set fully, then sprinkle with chilli flakes and serve with crème fraîche, if you like.
For all of these ingredients and more, go to farmdrop.com.