Vanilla and how to use it in baking
While discussing on a random Facebook thread once a pastry chef I know said "No Vanilla, No Bakery" and I agree with him 100%. And when I say vanilla I am not taking about those cheap artificial vanilla essence. I am talking about the real thing. The real goodness of the plump & tall vanilla beans. Because once you use the real thing trust me you will never use that cheap liquid again. The flavour and the aroma of the real vanilla is absolutely unbeatable.
And it is so easy to work with vanilla that I often wonder why do we fall for that thing which is 100% synthetic and actually has no trace of any vanilla at all. But that brings us to a question, what is vanilla actually?
Vanilla beans actually are the fruits of a particular kinds of orchids and require special conditions for growing. Luckily for us they are now grown in Kerala and surrounding regions pretty successfully and buying them locally isn't so expensive or tough as before.
But now that we have a bean, the next question is how to use it. In my opinion it is the best as it is. Slit open in the middle vertically and scrap down the tiny bean seeds using a sharp knife, now use those seeds in the batter, icing, pancakes, ice cream anything.
But there are a few more things I love to do with them and those things are so easy to do that it is really as easy as 1, 2, 3....
So here are the recipes for vanilla extract, vanilla paste and vanilla sugar for you. Make it at home and you can thank me later.
Pure Vanilla Extract
- Split the vanilla beans into half lengthwise and dunk in an airtight bottle with the vodka. Let it stand for 8-10 weeks till when you open the bottle you smell the vanilla and the alcohol smell totally wears off. Yes that is it.
- You increase an decrease this, essentially I use a pod for every 10 ml of vodka.
And another must have in my kitchen when it comes to Vanilla, the vanilla paste
- Grind the vanilla beans to a fine powder using a high powered mixer. Using half a tsp of sugar will help grind them better.
- In a heavy bottom pan, boil together water and sugar till the sugar completely dissolves. Turn off the heat and mix the vanilla bean powder with the sugar solution. Refrigerate for 2 days before using. Stays good for a month in fridge.
And last but not the least Vanilla Sugar
- Slit the ban from the middle and scrap down the seeds. Mix with the sugar till well incorporated. Let it stand for 1-2 weeks and use as required.