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Food flavourings are a baker’s best friend as they offer an easy and convenient way of providing cake mixes, buttercream and icing with a specifically chosen flavour. The two main types of food flavourings used in baking are liquids and pastes. As you would expect, pastes have a thicker consistency than liquid flavourings and this can make them more suitable for flavouring certain types of mixtures. These food flavourings are available in lots of different flavours too, from well-known vanilla and chocolate to more unusual varieties like cola and chai spice. In this article we take a look at cake flavourings you can try the next time you are baking and also some popular cake flavours for occasions like weddings and birthdays.

Liquid flavourings vs pastes

Although you can use either of these varieties when making cakes and buttercream, liquid flavourings are generally added to cake batters whereas pastes are chosen for buttercream and icing. The issue which some bakers find when using liquids for flavouring buttercream is that it creates a consistency which is too thin and watery. Pastes and liquids are often highly concentrated too, meaning you don’t need to add a large quantity to create the desired strength of flavour. High-strength liquid flavourings sometimes require diluting with water, milk or egg before use. 

How to use liquid food flavourings

If the liquid food flavouring does not need to be diluted, it can be added directly to the cake batter, buttercream or icing before it is mixed in. There are sometimes instructions for the recommended quantity of liquid to add on the packaging, e.g., 1ml per 1kg of food but this can be adjusted to suit your taste.

How to use paste food flavourings

Like liquid flavourings, pastes can be added directly to the cake batter, buttercream or icing. Due to its thicker consistency, it will require a little bit more mixing than liquid varieties to ensure the flavour is spread evenly throughout. 

A look at some flavours

Whether you are looking for cake flavours or flavourings for cupcakes, there are plenty of options available. In addition to batter mixes and buttercreams, you can also add flavourings to jams and custards. They really do offer a versatile and convenient way of flavouring your baked goods.

Vanilla food flavourings

A real kitchen cupboard staple which is used within so many baking recipes, vanilla certainly tops the list of most popular food flavourings. Many vanilla pastes are made from vanilla beans with the addition of vanilla pod seeds. Vanilla extracts tend to be created through a cold extraction process which draws out the vanilla flavour from the beans. 

The mild flavour of vanilla makes it an ideal choice, whether you are baking sponge cakes, cookies, muffins or cupcakes. This is also the case when it comes to buttercreams and icing, with the vanilla providing a subtle and mellow quality which will not overpower the other ingredients.

Vanilla flavourings are used within an array of classic baking recipes including Victoria Sponge and even traditional Christmas Cake! This versatility will ensure it will remain the most-used variety of food flavouring available, whether that’s in paste or extract form. Here are two recipes which use vanilla flavouring:


Christmas Cake: BBC Good Food

Victoria Sponge: BBC Good Food

Lemon food flavourings

Often used instead of real lemon juice, as it provides a taste which is less bitter and more mellow, lemon food flavourings are great for adding a subtle, citrus inclusion to cakes, cupcakes, buttercream and icing. Both lemon extracts and pastes are available to choose from.

Lemon food flavouring is also used when making ganache, macarons and even ice cream. The advantage you have when using lemon paste, extract or essence opposed to real lemon zest or juice is that it is easier to control the strength of flavour. Certain recipes, though, will use both lemon extract and real lemons for a citrus punch! Lemon paste is also particularly good for buttercream as lemon juice could cause the consistency to become too thin.

Chocolate food flavourings

A much-loved flavour, chocolate is widely used in the making of cakes, muffins, cookies, biscuits, cupcakes and various other baking recipes. Real chocolate or cocoa powder is often the preferred choice for a rich flavouring. Pastes and extracts in chocolate-related flavours like mint chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate provide you with a quick and easy way of introducing a desired chocolate flavouring to cake batters, buttercream and icing. 

Coffee food flavourings

There are plenty of coffee lovers out there and to ensure that those of you are who fall into this category are well catered for on the baking front, there are also various coffee-based extracts and pastes to choose from. Not only are there general coffee flavourings available but also more specific flavours like cappuccino.  

Carmel food flavourings

Caramel adds a luxurious flavour to any cake, cupcake or buttercream. With caramel food flavourings like pastes, extracts and essences you have a quick and convenient, ready-made solution when it comes to providing a caramel flavour. 

Other food flavourings for cakes

Aside from the aforementioned varieties, there are many other types of pastes and extracts which may have gone other the radar slightly but are still undoubtedly worth a try if you are looking to add to flavour to your cakes and buttercream.  

Fruit-based cake flavours are popular all-year-round, and the good news is that the range of fruit flavourings available is extensive. Among the fruit cake flavourings to choose from are strawberry, raspberry, mango, pear drops, apple, banana, grapefruit and pineapple.

Spices are regularly used in baking and are particularly popular for cakes and biscuits over the festive period for all those traditional Christmas treats. If you are a keen baker, your cupboards are likely to be full of various spices, but you can also select from a variety of flavourings too including cinnamon, ginger and chai spice.

Using alcohol in baking to add flavour is very common and cake flavourings provide a convenient and very often, cost-effective alternative to the real thing. If this is the type of thing you are looking for, you can acquire amaretto, brandy, rum, gin & tonic and sherry flavourings, among others.

Nuts are another ingredient which are very often included within baking recipes. If you and your family enjoy nut flavoured cakes, cupcakes and buttercream, then having some nut food flavourings available in your kitchen cupboard will come in handy. Nut food flavourings include hazelnut, peanut and roasted almonds.

Sweetshop flavourings are used in a wide variety of cakes too, including for occasions like kids’ birthdays. Among the flavours which fall into this category are aniseed, bubble-gum, butterscotch, cola and Parma violet.

If you like mint-based flavours, there are also plenty of options for you if you would like to incorporate them within your baking recipes. From standard mint to varieties like peppermint and spearmint, you have an array to choose from.

Flavours for occasion cakes

Choosing the flavour of an occasion cake very much comes down to personal preference and what your friends, guests and family might like too. If you are baking a cake for someone’s birthday, then it is likely you will choose a flavour you know they will enjoy. We take a look at some popular flavours of wedding and birthday cakes below. 

Wedding cake flavours

Wedding cakes come in all shapes, sizes and styles. With varieties like semi-naked, multi-tiered and floral you have plenty to decide upon in the run-up to your big day. The most important factor in any cake, however, isn’t how it looks but how it actually tastes, and we have provided some wedding cake flavours below which may just appeal to you and your partner:

Pink Champagne Wedding Cake

A wedding isn’t a wedding without champagne, is it? And if you are big fan of this sparkling alcoholic beverage, then why not include it within your wedding cake too? Instead of adding water to the cake batter, Champagne is added instead, and the cake is finished off with a raspberry mousse and vanilla buttercream. 

Source: Pink Book

Chocolate Cappuccino Wedding Torte

There are a lot of chocolate and coffee lovers out there, so this particular cake might please quite a few people in attendance at your wedding. It is certainly a rich and luxurious combination and really befitting of such a special occasion.

Source: Wedding Wire 

Classic Wedding Vanilla Cake

A great choice for keeping everyone happy on your wedding day. You can also use a different flavoured buttercream if you wish just to adda different flavour. If you are stuck, we have more ideas on wedding cake flavours in this article below:

Wedding Cake Flavours

Birthday Cake Flavours

Baking a birthday cake which will not only please the birthday boy or girl but also family friends is not always easy. There are some birthday cake classics though which have stood the test of time and remain extremely popular. We look at those and one unusual birthday cake flavour you may not have even considered.

Chocolate Birthday Cake 

Starting off with a tried and tested birthday cake, chocolate! Chocolate sponge with a buttercream filling is always a real favourite at birthday parties which is why it remains a go to birthday cake for many bakers. 

Super Easy Birthday Cake

If you are in a hurry, this birthday cake takes just 45 minutes in total to make and could be the best option if time really is of the essence. This cake uses vanilla extract within the cake mix and is filled and topped with buttercream.

Source: BBC Good Food

Lemon & Elderflower Birthday Cake

Something a little different to the traditional-style birthday cakes mentioned above, but still extremely tasty, nonetheless. The combination of lemon and elderflower, pairs a citrusy zing with a mild floral flavour which works in perfect harmony.

Source: BBC Good Food

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