Spices & Essences:

Just a few to start…….I will be adding more …

Where to start? I think beyond flour, Spices and Essences are my favourites……I love vanilla, anise, star anise, 5 spice, cardamom, fenugreek…..ooohhhhh the list is endless.

Spice Heaven…….

My next dream is to go to spice markets in Morocco or Egypt. The ones in Turkey were AMAZING!! Not the touristy clap trap ones, they were good but it was the general everyday ones that were fantastic!! Even in parts of Italy and France, there are the spice markets, especially in parts of Paris. The ones in Italy were more herbs but still, who is going to debate the amazingness of ‘flavourings”.


I am not going to debate spice/herbs. Maybe i should just say flavouring ? I will try to keep to the ‘official’ spices BUT if I wander down into herbs, forgive me!! I may even venture into spice mixtures…….

But for people among us who like classifications, a quick definition. Spices are seeds, root, bark or fruit of a plant whereas the herb is the leafy part 🙂

Lets start with Anise, my favourite. I love it because it’s called pimpinella anisum, one of the few spices that i know the botanical name……….i love the sound of it….


Anise: Where to start? Love it, the smell, the taste, hmmmm, in savoury or sweet, gorgeous!! I think I like it too because I love liquorice and it is similar. It is used widely in many alcohols,  Sambuca, Raki, Absinthe (the green fairy) Ouzo, Mastika and many others.It is used not only baking but cooking in fact I use it often in  Tagine I make but I love it as it is used in Buccellato which is from Lucca and I love Lucca almost as much as home:)

Vanilla:Beans, essence or powder…..all divine. Talk about food of the gods:) The uses of vanilla are endless….but for baking….it has to be my favourite multipurpose spice/ essence. Delicious in vanilla brioche bread and butter pudding, vanilla creme icing or vanilla fruity buns….


Saffron:The most expensive spice known to man! But splendid.  In bread baking, it is a gift and a little goes a long way. Who hasn’t tasted Paella? or saffron biscuits…. Saffron and cheese bread and in a Sicilian stuffed bread.


Cardamon: similar to the ginger Third most expensive spice.Wonderful in baking, cooking, drinks and medicine:)Watch out for my cardamom and apple bread……Yumm!!


Cinnamon:like most spices, used for sweet and savoury, in cooking and baking. I love cinnamon in cinnamon pecan sticky buns (promise to post soon), tagines, scones, oh, the list is endless.

Nutmeg:similar to mace but softer in taste. Used in savoury and sweet dishes, Nutmeg vanilla french toast or Nutmeg raisin bread.


Poppy-seed: multipurpose and can be used widely.Lemon poppy-seed cream cheese bread, orange poppy-seed buns or poppyseed strudel roll.

Rosewater: Very popular in middle eastern baking. Wonderful in biscuits, baklava, turkish delight and sticky buns. Yeasty beasty bread pudding and rosewater syrup or rosewater spiral bread.


Orange Blossom water:Popular in Middle Eastern cooking and baking, orange blossom Madeleine’s, orange blossom syrup cake but try Fouggasse or bread of the dead.

Cloves:Love cloves especially studding ham with them. Cloves though can be very overwhelming ifeel if not used carefully. Try cloves in a pumpkin or zucchini bread.


Ginger: Great for savoury and sweet. One of my favourites is ginger crunch ,not a yeasty beasty but still a recipe i will include in my blog as you need to eat it!! AND GINGERBREAD!!

Please look at one of my favourite spice shops below:


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