Mixed spice, also referred to as pudding spice, is a powdered blend of spices frequently used in British cooking. The warm flavorings in this blend are a part of many traditional British recipes—particularly Christmas desserts—as well as cakes, pies, and baked goods. It's available year-round but may be hard to find outside of Britain.
What Is Mixed Spice?
Mixed spice is a British spice blend. Although there is a little flexibility in this spice mixture, it does combine specific ingredients. Mixed spice includes a balance of some or all of the following ground spices: cinnamon, coriander seed, caraway, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, and mace.
While mixed spice includes allspice, you cannot substitute the single spice for the mixture. These two are often confused, but allspice is not a blend; it is the dried unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica. It is also known as Jamaica pepper, pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, Turkish yenibahar, or new spice.
This British spice blend does have a long history, but there is some uncertainty when it first appeared in cookbooks since it was referred to by different names, such as "sweet spice." There is a listing in the table of contents for mixed spices in Mrs. Frazer's 1795 book "The Practice of Cookery," but it may not have been until the 1800s until it was an ingredient in British cookbooks.
What Does It Taste Like?
British mixed spice is similar to gingerbread spice with its warm and somewhat sweet, somewhat spicy flavor tones. It is a perfect blend of the seasonings we normally associate with the fall and winter.
Cooking With Mixed Spice
The spices included in this blend are mainly sweet, with an emphasis on the cinnamon. It is most often used in baking, sprinkled over fruit, or combined with other sweet ingredients. The flavor is somewhat rich so the spice will often appear in Christmas desserts as well as other celebratory recipes. Mixed spice is not just used for sweet cakes, though—a sprinkle or two in a casserole is always welcome.
Recipes With Mixed Spice
Because mixed spice is so frequently used in British holiday baked goods and puddings, it is sometimes referred to as "cake spice" or "pudding spice." It is also incorporated into cookies, pancakes, breads, and fruit salads. If you enjoy these warm flavors in savory foods, try the spice mix in a stuffing and as a seasoning for poultry.
Mixed spice usually comes in glass jars or cellophane packets that should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight; the blend will stay fresh for a few months. Do not put ground spices in the freezer, though whole spice berries do freeze well.
How to Make Mixed Spice
Mixed spice usually comes pre-mixed as a carefully balanced blend. Trying to create the correct mixture at home is not impossible but takes very precise measuring.
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ground mace
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
In a bowl, gently mix all of the ingredients and store in an airtight container. The spices will stay fresh for about 3 months. Shake the mixture thoroughly before using.
If you can't find mixed spice in your grocery store and choose not to make your own, you can still create authentic British dishes. Pumpkin pie spice mix is a great alternative to mixed spice and will create a similar flavor, as will the Dutch spice mix called koekkruiden or speculaaskruiden, which is mainly added to foods associated with the Dutch Sinterklass celebration on December 5.
Where to Buy Mixed Spice
Because this spice blend is uniquely British, it may not be available in American grocery stores. Jars of this blended spice mix can be ordered online, or if you have access to a spice shop (such as Penzeys), you may find it there; just remember it can be labeled as "baking spice" or "cake spice."
Benefits of Mixed Spice
Practically speaking, this blend of seasonings is quite convenient; each spice is carefully measured and mixed together, saving you time, effort, and the cost of buying each spice separately.
Health-wise, some of the spices in the mix do have beneficial properties. Cinnamon, for example, has been studied for possible effects in lowering blood sugar levels; it is also an antioxidant, helps to fight inflammation, and lowers cholesterol levels. Allspice is an antioxidant as well and possesses anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.