Spices all have distinctive flavors and add a lot of character to baked goods (and other recipes). Sometimes we’ll encounter one spice on its own in a recipe, but often spices are paired up with other complementary spices to build a solid flavor base for a dish. A great example of this is pumpkin pie spice, a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg that really gives pumpkin pie its signature flavor. Pumpkin pie spice is a very common blend sold in most grocery stores and it is convenient because it allows you to add a lot of flavor with just one ingredient, rather than sorting through a bunch of jars of spices to get the ratio down. There are plenty of other spice mixes out there, however, and Penzey’s Spices Cake Spice is one that caught my eye not too long ago.
This Cake Spice is an all purpose spice mix that has cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cloves in it and promises to be good in just about all kinds baked goods, from cakes to muffins. Penzey’s is known for having high quality spices and this mix is no exception. It has a strong and spicy flavor, with a bright and peppery taste that you might not expect to get from this combination. It isn’t dominated by cinnamon, as many spice mixes that include a lot of cinnamon are. It is a lot more flavorful than the average spice mix you’ll find in the grocery store, and the addition of star anise – which is something that not everyone keeps in their spice collection - really makes it interesting. I particularly like this in coffee cake, in place of regular cinnamon, and it makes a delicious snickerdoodle variation.