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Penzey’s Spices Cake Spice, reviewed

Penzey's Cake Spice
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.

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  • Lori
    May 12, 2011

    Penzy Spices are the best! I think my favorite item from Penzy’s is their double-strength vanilla extract. (Does that count as a “spice?”) You are supposed to use half as much as called for in a recipe when using, but I always use the same amount for double the flavor. I can’t wait to try this cake spice too.

  • Deb Schiff
    May 13, 2011

    Hi Nicole,
    I’ve been using Cake Spice for a few years with great success. I also recommend their Baking Spice for all kinds of baked goods. I tend to use it in cookies for a dash of mystery.
    Pensey’s savory spices are terrific too. I use their paprikas, especially the half-sharp. It’s fantastic in recipes where you would use chili powder.
    Thanks, as always for your excellent posts.

  • Kay
    May 13, 2011

    This spice blend is great in waffles. I add it to a waffle mix along with vanilla and it really adds to the flavor.

  • apricot
    May 13, 2011

    When I read the ingredients, it got me wondering how it would be to use Penzey’s Cake Spice as the base for Chinese Five-Spice with ground Szechuan peppercorns & ground fennel added? Some of the “recipes” for it contain cinnamon, star anise & cloves, & allspice & ginger are given as substitutes for star anise, so it might make a souped up Seven-Spice “Five-Spice”. (I’ve never used Five-Spice, but had heard of it & got curious about what was in it after I saw a recipe for Chinese Five-Spice Angel Food Cake, which I haven’t tried yet.)

  • Carly
    May 13, 2011

    We just got a Penzey’s spice store here in Seattle and I was blown away by the range of spices, herbs, extracts, etc they have. So tempting! I’ll have to try this cake spice some time…I love star anise in baked goods. I made an apple-pear pie awhile ago with 5-spice powder and the anise flavor was delicious!

  • Laura
    May 17, 2011

    I just discovered Penzey and this was one of the first items that I bought, along with the Sandwich Sprinkle. I added a teaspoon to a store bought vanilla cake mix, and then topped the cake with homemade vanilla buttercream. It tasted like a snickerdoodle, and my friends gobbled it up.

  • Cris
    May 25, 2011

    Just found out there’s a Penzey store in Santa Monica. Sounds like a great place, I’m sure I’ll walk out with a whole lot more than just Cake spice! Thank you for the tip 🙂

  • René Azzara
    September 29, 2012

    Penzey’s Cake Spice is wonderful in a streusel topping for coffee cake. I also added it to the cream/nut centers of homemade Kentucky Bourbon Balls dipped in bittersweet dark chocolate. As the previous poster mentioned, it does add an element of mystery.

  • Linda
    May 28, 2014

    Nicole, how do you determine what ratio of cake spice to use versus the spices called for in a recipe? Or do you use cake spice in recipes not already using spices and add cake spice to taste?

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