Duff Goldman's 'Secret Weapon' In Baking Is So Simple

Whipping up a homemade red velvet cake or a from-scratch apple pie sounds like what Pinterest dreams are made of. But baking can feel like an exact science, and one that requires some knowledge, patience, and a few tricks of the trade. If there's anyone to take baking advice from, it would be Duff Goldman, who believes everyone can always perfect their craft further. "That's the great thing about baking," he told Insider. "I always tell kids that you can be really good at it your very first time and spend the rest of your life getting better at it." The celebrity chef is best known for his Food Network show "Ace of Cakes," and the incredibly successful bakery he runs in Baltimore, Charm City Cakes (via Food Network).

Goldman has a lot of thoughts on how to be a better baker. He believes that, aside from techniques and tools, one of the key things that can instantly improve your finished product is the ingredients you choose to use. Duff recently revealed on Twitter that he has a secret weapon when it comes to making the best pies — and it's something you likely already have in your pantry.

Almond extract can elevate your pies and baked goods

According to Duff Goldman on Twitter, you just need a few drops of almond extract to take your baked goods to the next level. "Almond extract is another baking secret weapon," Goldman tweeted in response to a fan, adding the punny hashtag #AceofTaste, a nod to his new show. Browse the celebrity baker's recipes online and you'll find that many of them call for almond extract, which is a concentrated liquid made with almond oil. While he didn't go into detail as to why extract is such an important ingredient, the Food Network chef isn't the only one who recommends adding this flavoring agent to your baking. Other food bloggers and publications agree it can make a difference, whether you use almond, vanilla, or some other flavored extract. "[Almond extract] is my secret ingredient when making apple pie from scratch, and it really does make a difference!" explains Sheila Thigpen, the blogger behind Life, Love, and Good Food explains.

As for how much extract you should use in your recipe? It depends on your tastes, but Bon Appetit generally advises that "less is more." That means that "ideally, the flavoring of the crust serves to enhance the flavor of the filling, not compete with it." They suggest just "a hint" of extract.