The aromatic scent of holidays and Mum's home baking, mixed spice is an essential jar on the spice rack. Mixed spice is a blend of sweet spices traditionally used in English cooking to provide a warming backnote. This typically English spice mixture can be purchased ready-mixed, but I prefer to make my own, as I find it difficult to find in France and I have my own special blend. It is essential for fruit cakes, Christmas plum pudding, mincemeat and hot cross buns; mixed spice is also a great addition to other fruity desserts such as apple & fruit pies, crumbles and compotes. Try it in cream cheese desserts, pickles, chutneys and mulled wine too. Make it up and buy the spices needed in small quantities, as the mixture soon loses its full rich flavour. Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger are the usual blend of spices, but I sometimes like to add a few ground cardamom seeds as well as some ground coriander seeds. This spice mixture makes an unusual and attractive gift - tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar, with pretty paper and then add a seasonal recipe tag.