The humble vanilla bean / pod
The vanilla bean in magnificent it its dark dreary half shrivelled disguise of a pod nestling its tiny seeds away from prying eyes. The pod looks like something you would throw out in disgust after finding it hidden beneath your fridge not an aromatic flavouring to add depth and flavour to your golden cakes. When the vanilla bean has served it’s purpose it can live on and make a delicious vanilla sugar that you normally find in quality baking shops or gourmet restaurants. Of course they charge a fortune for it in the shops and yet you can make this in a blink of any eye. It also gives you advantage when people ask you how you make your cakes so tasty you can say
“I always use a gourmet vanilla sugar”
This will produce a look of awe from your friends and perhaps a scattering of understanding nodding even though they may not know what it is; it sounds impressive. If you are lucky most will not dare to ask what vanilla sugar is for not wanting to look dumb. For those that do – there is no harm in sharing your secret if you wish.
Homemade Vanilla Sugar = You are a Baking Queen
All you need to do is:
1 x air tight storage jar (Kilner are good)
1 x vanilla pod / bean emptied of seeds (after being added to your cakes)
Cut the vanilla bean / pod into several pieces – not too small that you forget to fish them out when you bake with the sugar – it’s not good to chomp on one of these pods as they do not taste nice raw. Add your used pods to a storage jar / airtight container. Pour caster sugar over the top – I use golden caster sugar for my vanilla cakes as it make them taste smoother and more like a vanilla ice cream and gives your cake the slight twist in flavour to a normal victoria sponge for example. Place the vanilla sugar wannabee mixture in a dark cupboard ( the baking one is a good idea so you don’t forget where you put it!)
After a few days or as long as you want, the flavour will intensify the longer you leave it. Use it in reciepes that call for vanilla extract and sugar such as cakes, creme brulee etc. Why not have a teaspoon in your coffee – because your worth it and you can!
Look at the choc & toffee cookie recipe or toffee fudge meringue to see where I have used this wonderful sugar.
Next on my list will be making some vanilla extract as I want high quality and low price = win win!