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baking with booze

BAKING WITH ALCOHOL 101

Give your desserts and baked goodies an extra punch this holiday season, by adding in a little booze! Be amazed by the dramatic changes in flavour that a few drops of alcohol can bring!

“Bourbon?” “Spiced Rum?” or “Brandy?”

Does that feel like a discussion of finding the perfect cocktail for a house party this winter? Nope, that’s a discussion of our bakers looking to enhance the flavour of our wintery cakes.

Booze Matters

If you think that alcohol has no place apart from your cocktail glass, then you’re wrong. Whether you’re looking to enhance your favourite banana bread pudding with a smoky, intense flavour of spiced rum, or upping your fruit cake with a rich Irish porter, alcohol lends great flavour to your baked goodies. Apart from the flavour, adding booze gives extra moisture and makes your crumbs tender.

Before, we dig into finding the right ways to incorporate alcohol into your baked goodies, let’s take a look at what happens when you add alcohol to your desserts.

❖ To Enhance Flavour:

Booze enhances flavor of cake

Think of alcohol as a flavouring extract or agent.

The rule of thumb is to add the same amount of alcohol as you would add in a flavouring agent. Bourbon gives off a smoky vanilla flavour, as it’s often aged in oak barrels. You can add bourbon just like you add vanilla essence or almond extract. It can be used in cakes, cookies, pies for an intense smoky vanilla flavour.

Similarly, brandy, port or red wine add a dash of sweetness along with the winey aromas, making it ideal for chocolate cakes, gingerbread, and syrupy glazes.

And, just like your flavouring agent, the quality is important. Just as a poor quality vanilla essence gives off lesser aroma than a higher-quality one, the quality plays an important role when adding alcohol.

If you want a nice, rich flavour, then don’t skimp on the quality, as poor ones can make your baked goodies taste bitter.

While most recipes ask you to add the alcohol to the batter, if you want to taste the actual booze, then you should look to add it after cooking. For instance, you can soak your cake layers with a simple alcohol + sugar syrup for that extra flavour and kick, when you’re making adult friendly dishes. Additionally, you can also drizzle a few drops of alcohol in your frosting or whipped cream for that extra punch.

Question Corner:

If I add alcohol in my baked goodies, is it child-friendly? Can I serve it to teetotallers?

This is one common question facing bakers. Remember that alcohol, irrespective of the type is highly volatile. When you bake your dessert at high temperatures, the alcohol evaporates completely, and you’re just left with the flavour.

So, your baked goodie is free of alcohol and has just the flavour notes.

❖ For Added Texture

Alcohol adds texture to the cake

Apart from the flavour, alcohol also plays a crucial role in determining the texture of your baked goodies. For instance, add a generous dash of vodka to your pie dough to create a super flaky one. This is because, unlike water that creates gluten, vodka doesn’t cause gluten, helping you create a super thin dough.

The same applies to shortbreads and tarts. If you’re looking to make a flaky dough, then vodka is your best friend.

❖ For Extra moisture

Alcohol adds Moisture

Alcohol adds a bit of extra moisture to your cakes. It not only gives you a sweet, heady flavour but also retains the moisture. This is especially true for cakes that are soaked in syrup after cooking. For instance, bourbon is often used with sticky toffee pudding, and coconut rum is used for coconut cakes for the same reason.

Now, that you’ve learnt the Why’s, it’s time to migrate to the How’s

Baking with alcohol for the first time can be pretty daunting! You’re sure to face these questions, “What flavours complement each other? How to pick the right alcohol? Will it be a soggy mess?”

Fear not, here we give you the top tips for baking with alcohol.

1. Play it Safe, Till you Get the Hang of It

Start small, use teaspoon to begin with

Try adding just a few teaspoons of alcohol to your batter till you get to know the undertones and nuances of different spirits and liquors.

2. Check out Cocktails for Inspiration

try cocktail for inspiration

Cocktails follow a particular science. They aren’t random but made with flavours that work together. Make a list of classic cocktails and find out which flavours go together.

For instance, white rum is used in a classic Mojito because it complements the lime and mint flavour. Similarly, golden rum is used in a Pina Colada as it goes with pineapple and coconut. The rich caramel taste of golden rum is a delicious addition to several cake flavours.

Once you take a closer look at cocktails, you can get an idea of what’s perfect for your cakes.

3. If in doubt, Use Stout

Use Stout if in doubt

The easiest way to add in a bit of boozy kick to your cakes is to add stout into your batter, especially during the creaming of sugar and butter.

However, different stouts have different flavour profiles. For instance, milk stout is sweeter when compared to a dry stout. Using milk stout in a chocolate cake can make it cloyingly sweet, whereas dry stout works better for chocolate cakes.

Try to balance out the flavours when adding stouts.

4. Soak some fruits

soak fruits in alcohol

If you’re still hesitant about using booze in your cakes, then you can start by taking some baby steps. Next time, when you make banana bread or a fruitcake, soak 100g of raisins in 100ml of high-quality bourbons for around thirty minutes. Then use these raisins as specified in the recipe.

This rich, intense flavour of the bourbons gives a nice flavour to your baked goods.

5. Buy booze that you love to Drink

Add booze in cake which you like

This one’s a no-brainer. Obviously, the more flavour and aroma a drink has, the higher the flavour it lends to your baked goodie.

Since most recipes use only a dash of liquor, always pick ones that you love drinking. This way you can drink off the remaining without having to waste it.

6. Remember, that you aren’t making your Food Drunk

Alcohol should be added in limited quantity in cake

Always remember that you’re adding alcohol just to enhance the flavour and not to end up with a messy and soggy goodie. Too little, you won’t get the flavour; too much you’ll end up overpowering the baked goodie.

7. Know when to add which alcohol

get an idea to add which alcohol and quantity

Different types of alcohol taste differently. Here are a few pointers:

  • Beer: Great for breads and savoury dishes like sauces and dips.
  • Wines: Sweet wine and sparkling wine work great for cakes, sauces, and glazes. Red wines are best for braising.
  • Liquor (Whiskey, rum, and bourbon): The key here is not to overpower the final goodie. Make simple syrup and use it for coating cakes and muffins.

The Last Word

Remember, that there’s no hard and fast rule on how much alcohol you can add or cannot add to your baked goodies. It’s all a learning experience. Try and experiment with different flavours and notes, to get the right flavours.

For more expert tips on baking, get in touch with our bakers by dropping in a line at hello@gurgaonbakers.com to know the schedule of our hands-on baking classes in Gurgaon. Also, give us a ring at @ 0124-4379-633/ 989-9988-185 to get the best holiday cakes, and cookies delivered right to your doorstep this festive season. Take a look at our gallery for the best-customised wedding and birthday cakes in Gurgaon.

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