Use extracts not essences for baking

April 25, 2019 4:20 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

When you’re baking, it’s often the smallest ingredients that make the biggest difference. If you’ve already purchased the finest flours and the most wonderful sugar, don’t let yourself down when it comes to the little extras!

What's the difference between extracts and essences?

Naturally Good Food has a fantastic selection of natural extracts for use in baking. Although we include these under the search term ‘essence’ too (as many of our customers use that term when shopping), these are in fact all extracts, rather than essences. Extracts are the natural flavour of a food that’s been ‘extracted’ directly from the source. They contain the active ingredient of that foodstuff in a concentrated form. Essences, meanwhile, are synthetic, artificial, chemical-based flavours.

We like natural at NGF, of course, and we like the very best taste. Extracts bring a depth and complexity of flavour to your dishes, while essences are distinctly one-dimensional.

The two big names in natural extracts are Steenbergs and Nielsen Massey. Steenberg extracts are made with the finest organic ingredients and have simply glorious flavours. We stock their almond and peppermint extracts. Nielsen Massey, meanwhile, are on a mission to produce ‘the most alluring and complex’ flavours. They’re the vanilla experts – the vanilla choice of top chefs and serious bakers across the world. We have Nielsen Massey vanilla in sizes up to 1 litre. We’re also proud to stock their almond, coffee and lemon extracts.

Wish you could have a sniff – or a taste – of them right now? We’ll do our best to capture their aroma in words!

Pure almond extract

This brings the warm, mellow and nutty flavour of almonds to everything it touches. It blends well with a whole host of foods and flavours, including vanilla, chocolate, caramel, apples, coconut, cherries, cream, strawberries and raisins! It’s great for frostings and fillings.

Pure coffee extract

Pure coffee extract is made from Arabica coffee and is the true essence of rich brewed coffee, in a concentrated form. It allows the cook to deliver the nuances of coffee without having to brew a pot! We use this to add richness to a vanilla milkshake or a mug of hot chocolate – or add it to hot fudge sauce as a topping for ice cream. It’s also great blended into vanilla yogurt or whipped cream or added to molten chocolate cakes and tiramisu.

Pure lemon extract

Pure lemon extract has no added sugar or sweetener and has a brilliantly bright taste. It has a special affinity for vanilla, orange and almond, but is frankly a natural with all fish, pork and chicken dishes – and marries well with herbs such as parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic and basil. Lemon extract can be added to anything from beverages and vegetables to desserts and jellies.

Pure peppermint extract

Made from the finest mint oils, this extract has a deliciously fresh, breezy flavour. It’s a brilliant addition to teas, chocolate, cakes, ice-creams and icings. A more unusual option is to use it to enhance fruit salads or as a surprisingly good accompaniment to savoury dishes including lamb, pork and poultry.

Vanilla extract

Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract is made from certified organic vanilla beans and pure organic alcohol. It’s produced by a unique cold-extraction process – a time-consuming procedure that slowly and gently extracts the maximum flavour from the vanilla beans, without damaging the delicate flavours. The process can take up to five weeks to complete, but it’s worth it: the result is a creamy, sweet, smooth and mellow vanilla that can be used in all manner of baked goods. It’s particularly good with chocolate – or, our personal favourite – in crème brulee.

Flower waters

You’ll also find orange and rose flower waters in our Extracts section, from Steenbergs. These distillations of flower blossoms bring a real delicacy of flavour to recipes both sweet and savoury. Use the rose water for ‘rose cakes’ or for rose icing, or add to fruit salads, ice-creams and puddings. Orange flower water, meanwhile, makes a wonderful addition to sweets, custards and puddings.

All of these extracts are the real thing. They smell of the real foodstuff (you’ll think you’ve walked into an orange grove, or entered the world’s most inviting coffee shop) and bring real flavour to your cooking. So don’t scrimp at the last minute! Maintain a store of the best food extracts and you’ll always be able to make the most of your cooking.

Recipe ideas using extracts

Looking for recipe ideas? Try these!

Almond extract: a vital ingredient in this original NGF recipe for Gluten-free Moist Cherry and Almond Cake. It sinks into the almonds used in place of flour to give a wonderfully moist result.

Coffee extract: Mocha Choc Chip Cookies 

Lemon extract: Lemon Sugar Cookies

Peppermint extract: Peppermint Ice-cream 

Vanilla extract: Moist Double Vanilla Cake 

Rose water: Rose Water and Raspberry Sponge Cake 

Orange flower water: a refreshing Orange Blossom Blast drink.

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This post was written by Yzanne

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