Underrated spices for bread/brioche/pastry

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ResolvableOwl

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As of lately, I'm too rarely in the “bakery”. The lockdown last year, and, in its following, the outright pop-cultural fashion that everyone now grew sourdough and baked bread all of a sudden, has depleted much of its somewhat exotic appeal for me.

However, that doesn't make baking itself less fun. I'm just again and again surprised which great treats I have made in the past, and don't remember that they were totally worth being repeated/varied/adapted/… (maybe I'm also slowly getting senile?). One tends to collect a massive amount of passive knowledge about the finest foodstuff all around the world, but still the radius of active knowledge/actual application is awkwardly small. It's not the time. It's not the availability. It's not the motivation. I don't know what it is.

Anyhow, I'm grown-up (?) and should know what to do. I've prepared a dough for tomorrow: I'll bake a bread with 1 tablespoon of milled fenugreek per pound of flour. I'm totally in love with that taste, somewhere between maple syrup and dal! On top of that, it is good for the dough, it boosts the fluffiness of the sourdough crumb (everyone who has toyed with fenugreek seeds knows how slimy they get when wet). Unfortunately it'll become bitter if overdosed. But that's something I already can handle quite well.

Another remarkable addition, to savoury as well as sweet baked goods, is cardamom. It reminds me of some ingenious Scandinavian pastry creations, of which I SWEARED to not bake too many (but I missed to promise a lower limit, though 🙄).

Also on my list are tarragon (potica!), and then that tiny bag of mahleb that's still untouched, since I don't know what to do with it. Ajwain which bluntly reminds of thyme, and challenges me since quite a time to pave its way into sweet pastry too. Anise (I recently found out that a nearby farm sells anise grown a few km from where I live) and star anise are underrated too. Allspice, tonka bean, tamarind, chestnut, boldo, honey-garlic ferment, pandan leaves, fried onions, cinnamon (in a savoury context), parsley, mastic, …


What are your “secret spices” which you are mad on yourself that you use them just too rarely?
 

Carly B

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Gosh. Cardamom for sure. Caraway, star anise, ginger, coriander (the spice seed, I use the herb all the time). Definitely Aleppo pepper and Szechuan peppercorns and cinnamon for savory, as you said. Kalonji and berbere. Hubby is all in on different kinds of pimenton, Ras al Hanout, and mala spice blends.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Hard to disagree 😋🥰
But caraway really has no chance to be called “exotic” or “underrated” in my kitchen, since I'm already putting it into everything.
 

MrsZ

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Hard to disagree 😋🥰
But caraway really has no chance to be called “exotic” or “underrated” in my kitchen, since I'm already putting it into everything.
That makes sense. The area of the United States that I live in, most of the older generation that have lived here their whole lives tend to use black pepper and salt almost exclusively. One sweet older lady I talked to (who also has cooked for herself and family her whole life) told me that she saw someone on a cooking show add herbs to chicken soup. Things like thyme and rosemary, and she was so surprised! She had never heard of using herbs in soup before.

So at least in the region of the US that I live in, caraway is very exotic. :)

I love bold flavors, and use many spices and herbs in my cooking. My spice collection took up a quite a bit of space when we moved recently. But you have mentioned many that I've never heard of before! I'd love to come see your spice cabinet. 😁
 

Marsi

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rock salt, garden grown chopped rosemary and garlic over the top of dough made into flat bread with fingertip divets for the olive oil drizzle

fresh chilli, caramelized onions, rough ground peppercorns as a divergent

roasted salt pumpkin seeds on or in anything

fresh bay leaves for spicy warmth

i think you can never have too much fried spring onions ;)

cinnamon and brown sugar fruit bread
ground clove bud for spice
honey to add even more sweet

chocolate and chilli

carroway seeds in bread ... 🤤
 

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