One of the questions we’re asked most often is what is the best vanilla to use for cupcake and cake baking. We only ever recommend using vanilla extract, never essence. Essence is a synthetic product and will never give the pure, delicious vanilla-e-ness (our new favourite word) that make your cakes really special.
The vanilla that we always recommend is Nielsen Massey, it’s available from Lakeland and also lots (although not all) supermarkets. If you’re baking for business or in bulk, you can buy it in larger quantities here: Natually Good Food.
In the quest for perfect vanilla flavour, we’ve been experimenting with making our own vanilla extract and thought we’d share our efforts with you in case you fancied having a go.
You will need:
– Rum (we used rum as we think it compliments the vanilla flavour well, you could use vodka which is flavourless.)
– Vanilla pods (we bought these in bulk, from eBay of all places.)
– A very clean jar or small bottle
1. Sterilise the jar you’re using by placing in a hot oven for 10 minutes, or by running through the dishwasher just before using.
2. The amount of rum/vanilla will depend on the size of your container. We used 4 vanilla pods for a small jam jar, with about a cup of rum. Carefully split the vanilla pods down the middle to open and expose the seeds.
3. Squash the pods into your jar.
4. Top up with the rum or vodka, close the lid and give a good shake.
5. Leave in a dark place for at least 6 weeks before using.
Let us know how you get on and what you think of the finished product!