Cloves are the dried flower bud of a tree of the Myrtaceae family and are native to Indonesia, although they are grown in other parts of the world. They are used as a spice in many cuisines worldwide.
Cloves are one of the spices contained in mixed spice and go particularly well with apples. In baking, it is best to use ground cloves. Too much can overpower and be a little antiseptic-tasting, but a little added to an apple pie or Dutch apple cake enhances the flavour. Sweetened, puréed cooking apples flavoured with cloves can be added to flour, raising agent and eggs to make a very low-fat cake, which tastes rich because of the texture of the apples. Or you could make a honey and clove cake with a lemon icing drizzled over the top.
Ground cloves are also added to pumpkin pie so why not try making pumpkin bread, using puréed pumpkin, flour, raising agents, eggs, hazelnuts, sultanas, ground cloves, ground ginger and ground cinnamon. Or, make chocolate and almond cookies with cocoa, butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds and ground cloves and cinnamon. Cloves can be added to savoury baking too. They go particularly well with bacon or gammon, so try making pasties using chopped bacon, potatoes and vegetables and flavoured with ground cloves.
Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the Leiths School of Food and Wine