Most people look forward to autumn for the cooler weather, falling leaves, and undoubtedly, the comforting meals and desserts typically enjoyed during this colorful season. Among the range of confections on your go-to list, your easy pumpkin pie recipe, your grandma's famous apple crumble, and some sort of delicately flavored spice cake are most likely top contenders.
While everyone has their own variation of what a spice cake or fall spice cake should include, most varieties include a specially chosen blend of your favorite warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, and nutmeg. While spice cake can be made from many different ingredients and could include flavors like pumpkin, maple, and even hints of caramel, if you want a simple way to amp up any variety, opt for a bit of molasses.
Next to your favorite fall-inspired ingredients, a simple spoonful of molasses added to your fall spice cake batter is sure to add depth of flavor and richness to your cake's resulting color. Even though molasses is technically a sweetener, this somewhat historical ingredient is a byproduct of the sugar-making process and contains both sweet and sharp flavor notes. Just a small amount can transform your next autumn-inspired cake into a complex yet well-rounded dessert. Before unveiling the different types of molasses and potential alternatives, let's take a deeper look at how molasses specifically can level up your next seasonal confection.
Read more: 25 Baking Tips Every Home Cook Should Know
How Does Molasses Elevate A Simple Spice Cake?
Whether you plan to make an applesauce spice cake, or a variety that includes carrots or squash, besides those quintessential fall spices, molasses might be the ingredient you need to bring your seasonal dessert to the next level. As mentioned above, molasses is technically the leftover dark liquid produced when sugar boils down into crystals. While this sticky sweetener is definitely not as sweet as sugar, the taste of molasses is a complex combination of sweet, robust, and sharp flavors. The flavor of molasses can sometimes give off a caramel essence with a smokey or savory underbite. Just a spoonful of this complex liquid in your next cake batter can meld all of those precious warming spices together and give your confection a deeper flavor overall.
Besides the flavor benefits, molasses can also impact the color and moisture level of your freshly baked cake. Since this ingredient has a very deep color, expect the resulting hue of your cake to be changed for the better. Also, because molasses is technically a liquid, a simple tablespoon added to your cake batter will add an extra dose of moisture to the final product. Additionally, if your cake typically calls for baking soda, molasses works in conjunction with this ingredient, adding more buoyancy and texture to your final product. Now that you know the extended benefits of using molasses in your next spice cake, try to be mindful of the different varieties available.
There Is More Than One Kind Of Molasses
Before you gear up to add a bit of molasses to your streusel spice cake, you might want to make sure you have the right type of molasses on hand so you end up with the originally intended flavor boost. For baking purposes, make sure you're using light molasses. This specific variety is produced after the initial boiling of sugarcane and is the lightest and most common in baked goods. Conversely, dark or medium molasses is produced after the second boiling and this variety is not only darker but also contains less sugar and a more bitter flavor. Lastly, blackstrap molasses, which can also be used as a sweetener, is boiled three times, resulting in a much sharper flavor. Blackstrap molasses also contains more vitamins and antioxidants than the other two varieties available. If you opt for this variety just remember a little goes a long way in terms of flavor and color and typically, blackstrap molasses isn't normally used as a primary sweetener in baked goods.
If you have no molasses on hand you can give your autumn spice cake a similar boost by trying a bit of honey or maple syrup. While honey doesn't have the same smokey flavor as molasses, maple syrup does give off a nuanced caramel-like taste. Just be mindful of how much you add, since maple syrup is thinner than molasses. For the best amplification of flavor, plan ahead and secure a jar of light molasses to give your seasonal spice cake a tasty upgrade.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.