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Monday, June 25, 2012

Ingrediants 101: Vanilla Extract

What makes a vanilla cake? Eggs, flour, butter? All of the above. But you can't have a vanilla cake without a good vanilla extract.

I was reading up on vanilla extracts and came upon one which is used by many other bloggers, as well as famous cupcakeries. Many of them referred to something by the name of 'Madagascar Bourbon'. At first I thought it was something alcoholic, and that some preferred to have a form of liquor in their cakes and icings (silly me). Turns out it was a brand of vanilla extract manufactured by Nielsen- Massey Co, who specialise in fine vanillas and flavours. The 'Madagascar Bourbon' part of the name is referring to where the vanilla originates from.

Nielsen Massey have vanilla beans brought in from four different countries, namely Mexio, Madagascar, Tahiti and Indonesia. Out of the four, I quote from the website 'the sweet, creamy and mellow flavor of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla is the taste most people associate with vanilla. This flavor and the bean's ability to hold that flavor in both hot and cold applications make it an exceptional "all-purpose" vanilla to be used for a wide range of recipes—from cooking and baking to ice creams and buttercreams.'  There are other Madagascar range products, but according to the recommendations on the NM website, either the Pure Madagascar Bourbon VE or the organic one is best for baking.

I haven't seen any Nielsen Massey product on any of our shelves in Melbourne, but from what I'm reading on blogsites and websites, it seems to be something all bakers should give a try some time during their baking journey. So this is going on my wishlist, I'm going to invest in a bottle. Simple as that.

The ingrediants you use in baking really make a big difference. In the last half year of 2011, I was doing some baking for a birthday party. Usually for events like this, I'd get the economic ranged products which delivered really well. No complaints and I'd even get good feedback. But then  I decided to change the brand of butter I was using. Honestly, I really should have done so earlier. And ever since then, good produce was one of my top priorities in baking. Indeed you're paying a bit more, but the outcome is really worth the investment. With food, it must appeal to those eating it, and the flavour is what contributes most to that appeal.

So be excited. I'll be web shopping some for this and will provide a feedback as soon as I get hold of it. Till then, stay warm fellow readers.

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