Vanilla is by the far the most popular flavouring used in baking. There are many different ways to infuse your baking with that wonderful vanilla flavour by using pure extract, vanilla paste, vanilla pods and vanilla sugar.
Extract is the most popular version used in general baking. It is made by extracting the flavour into an alcohol. You can spend a lot of money on good vanilla extract or you can make your own. It’s really very easy.
Vanilla Extract Recipe
250 ml vodka
3 vanilla beans
Pour your vodka into a tall jar big enough to hold your vanilla beans. Split your vanilla beans in half and add to the vodka. Seal and leave to sit for at least one month before you open it. Give it a few shakes as you walk past it. The vodka will like magic become vanilla extract.
It should last for up to a year. I would recommend making a big batch in one go and taking out a small bottle every few weeks for your baking. This way every time you remove some you can top with up more vanilla beans and vodka. You will have a never ending supply. The extract improves with age.
TIP – Add rum to your beans and vodka. It will give your extract added warmth.
Vanilla Paste Recipe
4 vanilla beans
4 tablespoons pure cane syrup
1. You need to dry your vanilla beans. Split your beans in half. Either leaving for several days on your worktop until completely dry. Or place them on a tray and pop into an oven on it’s lowest setting for about 30minutes or until completely dry.
2. Once completely dried blitze the vanilla beans in a blender until a powder.
3. Gradually add the syrup until you get a nice thick paste.
TIP – If you don’t have pure cane syrup use golden syrup. It has a slight flavour but nothing that will detract that much from the vanilla if anything it will taste even more delicious.
Make your own Lemon Extract
You can easily make your own lemon extract by peeling all the yellow part of two lemons and adding to 250ml’s vodka for the same length of time as the vanilla. Store in the fridge.
Make your own Vanilla Sugar
Dead simple to make – just fill a jam jar with granulated, caster sugar or icing sugar and add two split vanilla beans. Leave it sealed for about four weeks – when you open it you will be left with a gorgeous smelling vanilla sugar.
You can use your sugar in so many different ways – imagine a vanilla sugar pavlova or a vanilla buttercream mmmmm.