Allspice, also known as Jamaican Pepper, should not be confused with mixed spice. It is a pea-sized, dark brown berry, available whole or ground. As the name suggests, it has a flavour reminiscent of a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger and, therefore, will go with similar dishes and baked goods.
The berries are used in marinades or to flavour vinegars and ground allspice is used in baking and to flavour meats and stews. Added carefully to venison, game and pork pies, it gives a new dimension to the flavour, but it can be overwhelming if too much is added. More commonly, it is used in cakes, biscuits, fruit pies and pumpkin pie.
Why not try making a Pecan and Apple Streusel Cake by putting a little allspice in the cake mixture, flavouring the apples with allspice and cinnamon and putting on top of the sponge and sprinkling over an allspice and cinnamon-flavoured pecan streusel mixture. Be careful with the amount of allspice used - roughly half the amount of cinnamon to allspice. As allspice is an ingredient in pumpkin pie, why not try it in pumpkin muffins? Mix pumpkin purée with yogurt and dried apricots or peaches and flavour with allspice.
Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the Leiths School of Food and Wine