Ok, so it’s almost December, it’s almost payday. I can’t wait any longer – let the Christmas preparations begin! I mention this with trepidation as this time last year, almost to the day I blogged something similar only for Hungry Hubby to have an accident on his bike that rocked our world and turned Christmas upside down. Please keep your fingers crossed we can celebrate the Yule Tide in our own home, the way we wanted, this time last year.
Imagine my horror in arriving at this stage of making my Christmas cake today to discover I’d run out of Mixed Spice! I’d soaked my fruits in orange juice and Cointreau for a week, made my caramel and weighed out all the other ingredients and lo and behold – my mixed spice pit was bare. As we’re more than a bit strapped for cash going out for more shopping was out of the question but fortunately, my spice stash occupies more space in my kitchen than any other commodity and a quick rummage revealed the raw ingredients to make my own. Christmas cake saved!
Whenever there’s time, grinding your own whole spices is a very worthy pursuit. The aroma released from grinding your own whole seeds and bark awakens your senses and warms your soul. Well, it does to me anyway :). I used my Bamix stick blender with the spice grinding attachment but a coffee bean grinder, spice grinder or even a grater for the nutmeg and mortar and pestle for the rest would do the trick. So there’s no excuse not to try this yourself. If only I had a recipe for homemade scented candles too to stir some of this exotically fragrant mix into mmm… Make this and you will smell exactly why the Spice Trade was so powerful back in the day.
The beauty of making your own spice blend is you can adapt it to your tastes and requirements. Think Mixed Spice from a shop has too much coriander making it too savoury? Prefer your pudding more cinnamony and less clove studded? Then tweak away. For me, this blend is pretty spot on although the next batch I make will have a few, maybe 4 or 5 black peppercorns in as I think it can take the heat. No more than that though – we don’t want our Christmas pudding spiked with garam masala!
This recipe makes 5tbsp worth which should be just enough to get you through the festive season and a decent number of Christmas cakes, puddings and pies. As I was spooning this richly fragrant spicy blend into a small jar (and into my Christmas cake batter) it occurred to me that it would make a heart warming Christmas gift. There are so many beautiful glass jars out there, especially at this time of year, it would make an affordable but thoughtful present. Maybe write out your favourite recipe to use it in too. If you want to make a big batch you will probably need to do it in two or three batches as domestic grinding kit like coffee grinders will struggle with more then about 5-6 tbsp worth of spices.
- One whole nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp whole allspice berries heaped
- 1 level tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground mace
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- Optional – 4 or 5 black peppercorns
Grind or grate your nutmeg.
Add in the allspice berries, coriander seed, cloves and peppercorns if using – grind until fine (you may need to do it in batches depending on the size of your spice grinding appliance, which can vary greatly).
Now take the rest of the ready ground spices and pulse into the now ground seeds to mix well.
Should you have any visible pieces left then sift the spices out and give another quick blitz before adding to the jar.
Store in an airtight glass jar.
As with all spices they keep best in the dark some place cool and use them quickly so they don’t lose too much potency with prolonged storage.
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