The New Bakers Dozen

The The Bakers Dozen: Vanilla
By Chris on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 12:58 pm: Edit

I just wanted to pick your brains about my favorite spice: Vanilla

Are there extracts that are better than others? Such as Penzeys, Watkins, Schilling, McCormick etc.

What about Bourbon vs. Madagascar vs. that that big bottle of Vanilla Extract that my aunt brought back from Mexico that only cost $5.00?

And finally, I was looking at a cake recipe the other day that called for 1 tsp. Real Vanilla Extract and 1 tsp. artificial vanilla extract. In the notes for the recipe it said that using a combo of the two makes for better texture in the cake. True or not?



By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 02:39 pm: Edit

I use Penzey's vanilla and I like it alot. I also like their Madagascar beans. I tried their double strength extract but found I couldn't get used to using half as much and ended up using too much.

Beware of the Mexican stuff! While Mexico produces some fine vanillas (interesting article in a recent Saveur magazine) those big bottles can be at best flavorless and at worst, poisonous!

I can't think of how a tsp. of artificial extract would change the texture of a cake, but I do know that some people have grown up with only the flavor of artificial vanilla and prefer it.

If you are familiar with Penzey's and are into baking, don't miss out on their cinnamons. They are fantastic, and the contrasts between the types they carry are very interesting!

By me on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 10:55 pm: Edit

this doesn't really answer your question, but i thought that i would just mention that you can grind up whole dry vanilla beans and use them as an alternative to extracts :)

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Saturday, January 29, 2000 - 04:50 pm: Edit

Hey, that sounds interesting! Grind the whole beans? In a food processor? Would it work with beans that have already had the centers scraped out? I've got a ton of those. I already used alot of them to make vanilla sugar, but I'd love to have another way to use them. Once it's ground and you add it to something light colored (creme anglaise, etc) how much does it show up?

By me on Saturday, January 29, 2000 - 07:28 pm: Edit

Just grind the beans in a food processor or coffee grinder (I prefer coffee grinders because they produce a more consistent powder). I have always ground them whole (seeds and all) so I am not sure how strong the flavor would be with just the casing.

How visible it appears in a product depends on how much you put in.

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