Baking is my first love when it comes to working in the kitchen. Sure, I do enjoy cooking but baking is where I come to my elements and I think this is where my knowledge is the most in depth as well.
Last April, I had started on the blog A-Z of baking with an intention of sharing more baking recipes, tips and tricks but I stopped at “B for bread”. Yes sometimes I can be fickle minded like that but this time around. I am restarting the whole thing and I promise to myself and you guys that I will try and finish it, reach the Z at the finish line. A little motivation and cheering from you guys in the comments and shares will surely help I guess 🙂
A was for apples last time and this time around I was wondering what to write on, I wondered about many topics and recipes. There is the Apple Pie or the almond cake or the talk about accuracy but then an idea popped up in my head and I knew this is what I MUST write on.
Alcohol in baking, now tell me who doesn’t like that rum soaked cake or that spiked apple crisp or Bourbon Bread Pudding or Boozy Tiramisu or errr the hash brownies (I know I know it’s not technically alcohol) and the list goes on? I think adding alcohol to your baked goodies takes the flavour of the desserts up by multiple notches and makes them kickass things to be served in an adult party or picnic. In my opinion, booze deserves as much as a place in your baked goodies as it does in the bar and cocktail glasses. But very often I see people getting overwhelmed by how to use it, how much and which one and when to add.
Today lets attempt to break some of the confusion around Alcohol in Baking with my top tips and of course there has to be a recipe in the end.
Flavour – The boozy flavour is the number one reason one might wanna add alcohol to the bake. The woody flavour of the Bourbon, the mustiness of the wine, the coffee hit with Kahlua, the key here is to know which one imparts which flavour. It is a complex thing to learn honestly but broadly a thing to remember is that darker liquor always leaves a stronger flavour in the bake then a lighter one. Whiskey and Rum are the strongest whereas Vodka or gin hardly leave a flavour and its almost a waste using them in the batter. I love using liqueurs because the creaminess they add along with the complementing the coffee or the peach or the vanilla is amazing.
Texture – We often don’t think this to be a case but the alcohol can add greatly to the texture of your baked goodies for example vodka works great in a pie dough because it adds the liquid but unlike water does not contribute to gluten formation which means you can add more liquid to have a easy to roll dough with still results in flaky crust, flakier if you ask me. Addition of wine specially in cakes leads to a very moist cake (try this Chocolate Red Wine cake and it will turn into your favorite chocolate cake ever)
When to add the alcohol – That depends on how intense you want your alcohol flavour to be, if you like just the mild aftertaste of alcohol add it in the batter. If you are the brave one who likes the boozy cake to be boozy, soak your baked cake in alcohol and if you are really bold and brave, add an alcohol jelly to your cakes and cupcakes. Honestly this is my favorite way of spiking the cakes, think of the dark chocolate cake with a gel layer of Amrut stuffed (Tip : to make the gel, take 30 ml of your favourite daaru, add 60-90 ml of water and dissolve 1/2 tsp of agar-agar or gelatin in it. Let it set and then spread in between two layers of cake). Another favorite are TIPSY FROSTINGS. Even a simple buttercream frosting can be taken to the next level with addition of Contireau or Baileys
Bake like a bartender – This was a term I read somewhere and I think I have fallen in love with it. Think of cocktails and convert them in your cakes and cupcakes. This is so much fun. I once baked Cosmopolitan cupcakes for a friends bachelorette and that gang still takes about those, another very popular cake that I make is Lemon cake remodelled as a Mojito. Go take a walk in the well stock store and there are so many interesting liqueurs that complement your bakes. Malibu in Coconut cake, Peach Schnapps in Peach Cobbler, Amaretto in that almond and orange cake – the possibilities are endless really.
It all DOES NOT Evaporate : Yes we have heard it many times oh the alcohol in cooking it all evaporates, the truth can’t be farther from it. A 2003 USDA study showed that 5-85% of alcohol can remain in the food after cooking, it depends on what alcohol, the method and time of cooking. For eg it takes 2.5 hours of cooking for vodka to evaporate to 5% residual (see this link for more details) so hold on before you give that full cake to a child (though in my house we allow boozy cakes in which alcohol has been added only in batter because if you really calculate the amount which you eat in every slice it is not too much).
And here is a favorite bread pudding recipe in the house which has fair amount of Jack Daniels in it. This is a recipe I have made again and again and again to an extent that I can probably bake it in my sleep and I increase and decrease the amount of JD depending on who is going to eat it.
Everytime I have made this, the dish is almost licked clean. I have even had one friend add ice cream to the baking dish so that the yummy left over flavours of the pudding don’t go waste and the best part is it is so easy to put together