Almond extract is this baker’s secret weapon

Every baker has a secret weapon, whether a special type of flour, a certain brand of cocoa powder, or another ingredient that they feel adds a spark to their baked goods. For Elizabeth Chambers Hammer, founder of BIRD Bakery in San Antonio, that secret weapon is an elixir known as almond extract


Hammer says almond extract is the secret to her bakery’s famous sugar cookies. “It’s the fancier version of vanilla, and it adds another layer of flavor, depth, and warmth to so many recipes,” she says. Not only is it a crucial to the cookies, but it’s also a family tradition. Hammer recalls eating sugar boat tarts in the walk-in cooler in her grandmother’s commercial catering kitchen. 

“Maybe that’s why I feel so strongly about almond extract – because to me so much about cooking and baking is nostalgic and reminds me of those times with these amazing women in my life,” she notes. In addition to using almond extract in her bakery’s sugar cookies, Hammer also utilizes the ingredient in everything from whipped cream to banana pudding and even in French toast. 

Photo of Soft sugar cookies from Bake at 350 by Bridget Edwards

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  • Jenny  on  June 26, 2018

    When I had my bakery business in NY, I always put almond extract in my cookies – and people loved it – the only thing is that I had to make sure that I told everyone – there is almond extract in the cookie for allergy reasons.

  • LDGourmet  on  June 29, 2018

    Thank you for raising this. Every time I hear "secret weapon" I'm aware someone with allergies could be made ill, or worse.

    I am all for the concept and the flavor, and usually use natural products, this is one case where I can use artificial almond extract safely but pure almond extract could kill me.

    If you're baking /cooking for others, please be aware that there's a level of scrutiny we live with and you may assume something is safe which is not. I always ask when I'm baking for people or bringing treats to a party "this has nuts" or "walnut oil was used" or "these are non dairy". Even cross contact at the level of molecules could trigger a reaction.

    Thank you! <3

    If anyone's interested, I have a post on my site about entertaining/hosting food-allergic friends, or being a food-allergic guest. As a food allergy trainer, I'm also happy to field questions.


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