Natural Flavourings and How to Use Them

Many people agree that when it comes to food, as fresh and as natural as possible are the best way to go. This means no processed food like nuggets or instant noodles! This is also why fresh and natural foods have a tendency to be more expensive, not to mention their shorter shelf life.

 

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However, when it comes to baking, especially flavouring your cakes and other baked goods, it may seem all you have are factory-made extracts. Of course, you could make your own extracts. Some, like vanilla, aren’t really that difficult to make.
 
But flavoring extracts take time to make. That won’t do if you’ve got a really hangry sweet tooth craving!
 

1. Pandan Leaves


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A Malaysian classic, pandan flavour is light and sweet. It also gives of a deep green that isn’t too dark or too bright.
 
You just need to boil some fresh pandan leaves in hot water for a while to get the flavour out. However, this method is mostly for kuihs. To create and extract for use in normal cakes-and-similar recipes, you simply need to strain some pandan leaves that have been blended together with come water and refrigerate it for a while.
 

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2. Cinnamon powde

A baking ingredient that you may be familiar with is cinnamon.
 
This is a popular spice because of how well it complements sweet flavours. It can be found in recipes such as fruit pies, crumbles, pastries and even milkshakes.
 
Cinnamon powder can be store-bought or made on your own with little difference between them. The only reason why you might prefer to grind them up yourself is if you come across recipes that ask for sticks of cinnamon, like in certain mocktails.
 

(image credit: pxhere.com)
 

3. Nutmeg

Another spice you can use to flavour your baked goods is nutmeg. At first, this may be a bit of a no brainer, especially right after an entry on cinnamon spice. However, you need to treat nutmeg very differently than you do cinnamon.
 
Nutmeg is sweet and nutty, almost spicy at times. But this just helps to give it that warm feeling in your belly without disrupting the sweetness of your cakes.
 

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But you must be careful with nutmeg, it is actually toxic at high doses, so only use at most 1½ teaspoons of nutmeg. 2 teaspoons of nutmeg is slightly toxic, more than that is dangerous.
 
Also try to use only freshly ground nutmeg. This may be a bit tedious as you’d have to crack the hard shell and then grind the seed yourself. But then its flavour will be stronger at lesser amounts.
 

4. Almond Flour

Some flours have their own flavour too!
 
If you’ve ever dabbled in a vegan diet, you will be familiar with how many vegan products use almond either as a flavouring or a substitute for things like natural milk. Although many vegan-almond products are processed for use in those products, almond flour is completely natural.
 

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Almond flour is simply made by grinding up almonds that have had their skins removed into a powder. A variation called almond meal has the skins on the almonds but there are less recipes involved with that type of ground almond. While the latter has a stronger taste, the former is more versatile in its uses.
 
You can find both of these at any baking supplies store.
 

5. Banana Leaves

Every Malaysian, actually, every SouthEast Asian is familiar with banana leaves. WE use it to wrap our food, grilling and even as plates. It’s so eco-friendly!
 
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way to create an extract from banana leaves, but you can use it in steamed desserts like glutinous rice!
 
When it comes to cooking, you can still cook with banana leaves, the way you do with pandan leaves, only the former doesn’t leak out colour. For example, you can cook banana leaves with your rice in a pot to get its flavour mixed into your rice.
 

(image credit: pxhere.com)
 

6. Just Fruits

Fruits, just fruits.
 
There are several ways you can add fruits to your desserts without having to use chemically processed extracts. The obvious act of chopped fruit toppings aside. You can make curds, jams or even infusers!
 
While some recipes do call for fruit extracts, you may be tempted to use fruit juices instead. Try to avoid doing that juices have a higher water content than recipes usually need.
 
At the very least evaporate as much as you can via boiling the juices and use them after cooling. However, it still won’t taste the same as extracts because it won’t be strong enough.
 

(image credit: canva.com)

 

7. Mint

We’ve done spices, so here’s a herb!
 
Mint in your desserts are not as common as they should be considering how refreshing they are. While it is fine and easy to use store-bought mint extracts, like pandan extracts, you can easily make your own. However, it will take longer.
 
Crush some spearmint and peppermint leaves together and place them in a jar. Then, fill it up with alcohol like vodka, bourbon or rum. Make sure the leaves are completely covered. After that, seal it tightly and leave it in a cool cabinet between 1-2 months.

 

(image credit: canva.com)
 
You can check on it every once in a while to see if it’s strong enough for your tastes. Just remember to strain the leaves out when you’re done. And you’ve made your own natural mint extract!
 
Of course in certain recipes like cocktails, you can just use them as is.
 

(image credit: pixabay.com)
 
So embrace the wonders and healthiness of natural flavourings and extracts that you can make on your own!
 
Take a look at our available classes at My Weekend Plan.
 
As we change our classes every 2-3 months, we may have some recipes that use these natural flavourings. Don’t be afraid to come and chat with us if you have any questions about the recipes we will teach you!

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