Christmas is almost here! In my house, baking starts today. Sugar, flour, eggs, ginger, sprinkles and vanilla are about to explode all over my kitchen. Vanilla is the cornerstone of any great baked good, a hint of flavour or a booster for other flavours. In June, inspired by Jacqui, co-founder of the Cross Country Baking Club, I started my own batch of vanilla extract. It is extraordinarily simple to make your own vanilla extract and a great gift for the bakers in your life.
|June 2010 – Vodka & Vanilla Beans
|December 2010 – Vanilla Extract!
5 vanilla beans
1 cup vodka, brandy, rum
1. Cut vanilla beans lengthwise to reveal seeds. Cut into 1.5 inch pieces.
2. Place vanilla beans in sterilized jar.
3. Top with alcohol of your choice.
4. Tighten lid and wait 6-8 weeks, until alcohol has changed colour and vanilla has steeped.
Yield: One cup vanilla extract.
I could not resist the 7 litre bushel of cherries at the farmers market. Who could? After gorging on cherries and suffering subsequent tummy aches, I decided to preserve some of them to enjoy later.
Guess what? Pitting cherries, even with my handy-dandy cherry pitter, is no…bowl of cherries. (…groan?) I am covered in cherry splash-back, my hands are purple, my cookbooks and camera are splattered.
I experimented with saving them in syrup so that I could use them as topping for yogurt, ice cream or for baking tarts later in the year. They worked out well, and are oh so beautiful.
I made cherry jam, using no-sugar needed pectin, so I didn’t have super sweet jam like the strawberry I made earlier this week.
And, I made a Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake, using a Martha recipe. I didn’t have the right pan, Martha wanted me to use a tube pan but all I had was a bundt pan, which means my streusel topping will actually be a streusel bottoming. oops. ah well.
… and…Flipped over. No one can tell, right?
Cherry Filled Coffee Cake & the Queen’s Sugar
In the cake recipe, I needed vanilla extract. I only had some crappy artificial extract left from years ago, so I used that. My lovely friend Jacqui (co-founder of the Cross Country Baking Club), gave me a jar of homemade vanilla extract a few Christmases ago. I finally used it all up and decided it was high-time I made my own. I used rum as the alcohol because I had some from a recent trip to Cuba and think it will impart a nice flavour. The 4 split vanilla beans and 1 cup of rum will take about eight weeks to become the vanilla extract we all know and love. I’ll keep you updated on its exciting and slow progress.
Day One – Vanilla Extract