Spices are vital ingredients in so many of the world’s iconic sweet and savory baked goods. The mild flavor of grains are a perfect canvas to showcase the intensity and complexity of spices: rye-flour breads from central Europe baked with caraway seeds, Swedish pastries infused with cardamom or saffron, Arab flatbreads topped with za’atar, and Cantonese steamed buns stuffed with cinnamon and star anise– scented pork are all examples of flavorful spiced baked goods.
To bake with spices, grind and incorporate them into the dough or filling, use them whole as a topping (usually added before baking) for extra texture and flavor, or infuse them into your baking butter or oil.
To mix spices into a dough or batter, first grind them to a very fine powder so that their flavor will disperse fully, then add to your recipe’s dry ingredients. To contribute even more spice flavor and color to the final product, you can also bloom the spices in butter or oil and add them as a chilled compound butter or liquid ingredient. To use spices as a topping on baked goods, use robust whole or coarsely ground spices so that they retain some texture and won’t burn in the oven. Use an egg wash, butter, milk, oil, or a little water (as best fits your recipe) to help them stick to the dough.
TRY IT OUT
Start with your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but add cardamom seeds in addition to chocolate chips for an aromatic crunch.
For a spice-stuffed loaf of bread, roll out pizza dough into a rough rectangle. Spread spices across the dough with other aromatic ingredients like caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes. Roll the dough tightly, then proof and bake.