The Genius Way To Infuse Coffee Into Baked Goods Without Affecting Color

Coffee and baked goods have been a popular pairing for centuries, with coffee’s bitter notes balancing sweetness and caffeine potentially decreasing our sensitivity to sweet flavors. To incorporate coffee flavor into baked goods without altering the hue, King Arthur’s Research & Development Specialist Melanie Wanders suggests infusions. Steeping whole beans in cold milk or cream, often called “milk brew,” can add subtle coffee flavor without changing the color of the final product. This creates a milk-like texture that can be used to give dough and batters moisture or transform into creamy desserts like ice cream.

Milk infusing extracts oils, acids, and sugars from the beans, providing flavor, body, and aroma. Using crushed or whole coffee beans allows less of the beans’ surface area to be exposed to the liquid, creating a gradual extraction that won’t be overly bitter. While soaking whole beans in cold milk can still alter the milk’s color, using beans with a lighter roast can minimize this aesthetic change.

Soaking coffee beans in a sugar-and-water mixture can produce a bright, coffee-flavored simple syrup that can be included in your next bake. However, adding coffee to the mixture while it’s still hot could expedite the extraction process, turning the simple syrup coffee-colored. To avoid this, opt for a cold infusion method, allowing the simple syrup to cool before adding whole or ground coffee beans. Cold infusions can be left alone for 12 to 36 hours, making them more flavorful.

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