How To Flavor With Vanilla

basket of vanilla beans - How To Flavor With Vanilla

Melipona bee pollinating a vanilla orchard

Image Credit: Athena Rayne Anderson 2008

Vanilla is a flavoring that is extracted from orchids, primarily from the flat-leaved vanilla Mexican species.

The first endeavors to propagate or grow the vanilla orchid outside of Mexico had shown to be in vain as this particular orchid has a synergetic alliance with its natural pollinator, the Melipona bee.

At least 40 species of this bee are known, and thrive in Mexico, as well as Argentina.

Other areas were the vanilla orchid is now successfully produced, such as in Tahiti and Madagascar among other places, is entirely dependent on artificial pollination.

The magazine – “Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution” states that the vanilla orchid is one of very few crops whose production depends entirely on artificial pollination.

How To Pollinate The Vanilla Orchid

This video provides details how to successfully pollinate the vanilla orchid that produces vanilla beans! This presentation was appropriated by the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden.

Using Vanilla In Baking

When it comes to baking, vanilla is a very important ingredient, and there are 3 ways to use it…

  1. Vanilla Bean
  2. Vanilla Extract
  3. Vanilla Paste

Let’s examine the differences between these three and how to best use them in your baking.

Vanilla Beans

 Whole Madagascar Vanilla Beans

Whole Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans themselves provide wonderful flavor to any recipe that calls for it. The bean can cost between $7 to $13  for a small jar of two or three beans. They are a little time consuming to work with, but you will find the flavor they produce to be well worth the time.

You want to find vanilla beans that are plump and smooth with a slight shine and that are highly fragrant. Avoid overly dried beans. Using the vanilla in dessert recipes that call for it, gives the finished baked good an intense vanilla flavor that you might never want to go back to using another form of vanilla.

Be warned though, the bean can leave specks of brown throughout the baked good. To some this is great, but if you are baking a white cake, then employing the vanilla bean for such recipes may not work. That brings us to another form: vanilla extract.

Vanilla Extract

 

Vanilla extract is the common form used in baking.

To acquire the extract, the bean is mashed, and it is infused with a mixture of alcohol, a clear drinking alcohol is used, like Vodka.

Vanilla extract readily available, not only as pure, but also artificially made. The extract is simple to measure out and use in your baking.

Vanilla Paste

Pure Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste

Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla paste, though spendy (between $12 to $16 for a 4 ounce jar), is the best of both worlds when it comes to choosing between vanilla beans and vanilla extract.

Vanilla paste is the flesh of the pod scooped-out, and make available at market in small jars. So you are getting all of the flavor of the bean without all of the hassle. It will still provide those flecks of color in your baking like the actual bean does.

For vanilla paste, consult the jar to see how much to use in your recipes. It usually shows the conversions between vanilla extract and the paste.

When in doubt, gradually add to your baking, tasting after each addition to help you determine the right amount of vanilla flavor.

Which One To Use

Most recipes do call for vanilla extract but if you do decide to substitute the bean or paste for the extract, you can. One bean actually equals about three teaspoons of vanilla extract.

The next time you bake, try using vanilla beans or paste instead of the more common vanilla extract. Of course, what you decide to use depends on your personal preference.

Link Here For A Selection Of Dessert Recipes From Splendid Recipes and More

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National Gluten Free Baking Week

National Gluten Free Baking Week According to National Day Calendar, December 13th thru the 19th, it’s “Gluten Free (GF) Baking Week.

Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, rye and barley and for some people that spells trouble.

Why Gluten Free Baking?

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread – Click Image For Recipe

GF baking is one that excludes any type of flour that has gluten, which is a particular protein composite found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale.

Without becoming too technical or medical, wheat, rye and barley wreaks havoc on some, if not many individuals their digestive tract.

Gluten free baking doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite traditional desserts. It just means modifying your desserts by using gluten free flour choices.

Gluten Free Flour Options For Baking

Creative minds have discovered ways to bake with GF flours, and such flours can be found at your local market. Let’s examine in short what some of your choices are.

Bean Flours

Including garbanzo bean flour and romano bean flour, these flours are typically high in protein and have a distinct flavor. They are better suited for heartier recipes, such as breads.

Brown Rice Flour

This is a supplementary flour, and works great when blended with teff, buckwheat or sorghum flours. It is great for baking those sweet desserts.

Millet Flour

This is a light in color and a drier flour than most other gluten free flours. It is best when mixed with heartier flours, like Teff, Hemp, or almond flours.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting – Click Image For Recipe

 

Buckwheat Flour

Yes, it has wheat in the title, but this flour is related not to wheat but to the rhubarb plant. It has a distinct taste, which makes it best when combined with other, more bland flours.

This flour alternative for use in muffins, cakes and pancakes. In order to work well with the dough, adding a starch would help, like arrowroot, tapioca, or a nongmo cornstarch.

Sorghum Flour 

Made from sorghum, which is a relative of sugarcane. It’s tender and adds a mild sweetness, but is rarely used alone.

Coconut Flour

This flour lends a pleasant flavor to baked goods. Since coconut flour absorbs moisture more than other flours, it is suggested for recipes that have at least as much liquid as flour required in a recipe. Because this can be a tricky art, it’s suggested that as a beginner, you use recipes specifically designed for coconut flour.

Almond Flour

This is a great choice for baking. Using almond flour to a dessert recipe will add moistness, binding, a light almond flavor, and a good amount of density to cupcakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, breads, and cake recipes.

Keep in mind that any nut flour cannot be substituted in equal quantities for flour, because nut flours are more dense and very high in protein. They can be used to replace a portion of other GF flours, such as Oat Flour, being used in the recipe.

Buying Commercial Gluten Free Flour Choices

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread – Click Image For Recipe

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free is a fine blend using as its base garbanzo beans, potato starch, and tapioca, to name a few of the ingredients. See Bob speaking here about his flour choices, along with nutritional information, reviews, and GF recipes.

King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour

King Arthur Flour is a blend of white rice and whole grain brown rice flours, along with tapioca and potato starch. What’s great about this product is that ‘it’s multi-purpose’ and can therefore be used for both baking and cooking, cup-for-cup, the same as any gluten flour product.

Tips For Beginners Of Gluten-Free Baking

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake – Click Image For Recipe

Experiment, experiment and experiment. There is a learning curve when you first start with Gluten free baking, but once you get some practice and experience you will become an expert about what works and what dosen’t.

Stay with it and don’t get discouraged. There will be failed recipes because you have to learn which flour combinations work best, but it just takes practice and testing. It’s best to get guidance from recipe books or online guides when first trying your hand at gluten free baking.

Begin with simple baking recipes and learn the basics.

Try some of our gluten free dessert recipes by clicking on the images above that are accompanying this article, or by clicking the links below.

Gluten Free Tropical Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

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Berries and Vanilla Pudding Pie

Berries and Vanilla Pudding Pie

We would like to start off with saying we found this delectable pudding pie on Instagram. She like a food post of mine, and I went to check out her food creations and found her Strawberry Vanilla Pudding pie.

Her name is Andrea and you can find more great food photography and creations of her’s at  instagram.com/andrea_veganlicious. Thanks Andrea for sharing your recipe with us on Instagram.

Andrea used Dr. Oetker‘s Organic vanilla pudding and in place of milk she used almond milk. Here at Splendid Recipes and More we add blueberries, and used almond – coconut milk.

The organic brand of vanilla pudding we used, found at the Whole foods Market was “European Gourmet Organics Vanilla Pudding.”

Our featured recipe and here is what you will need:

simple ingredients for Berries and Vanilla Pudding Pie

1 3.5 ounce box Organics vanilla pudding (or your favorite organic brand)

1/4 of a medium organic banana, cut  into 5 1/2 inch slices

1/2 cup organic blueberries

8 medium sized organic strawberries

1 organic pie shell, baked

2 cups organic almond – coconut milk

Bake the pie shell according to package instructions. Usually it is in a preheated oven to 450 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool.

Make the pudding according to package instructions. Replace the 2 cups of milk called for, with 2 cups of almond – coconut milk. Also the instructions say it is optional to use one egg yolk for a creamer pudding. We did add a organic egg yolk.

Pour the prepared pudding into the cooled pie shell and let set in refrigerator for the amount of time the pudding box instructions call for. The pudding we used said let set for 90 minutes in the refrigerator.

Slice strawberries in half, and place each slice, cut side down, around the out edge of the pie. Sprinkle the blueberries around the strawberries, and place the five slices of banana in the center in a circular motion. Top the bananas with a few blueberries.

Berries and Vanilla Pudding

Slice, plate and serve.

 

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Carrot Coconut Bread

Carrot Coconut Bread

1¼ cups flour

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

1 cup sweet shredded coconut

2 large eggs, beaten

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup shredded carrot

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

 

In a large bowl, sift together first 7 ingredients. Then mix in shredded coconut.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs then add oil and mix well; add the yogurt, vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Stir the shredded carrots into the egg mixture, and then fold into the dry mixture until just combined.

Pour into four 4 to 5 inch spring form pans lined with parchment paper. Bake for 35 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes and then remove bread and cool on a rack.

Frosting for bread as follows: Whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 8 oz. soft cream cheese and 1 tsp. vanilla. Spread over cooled bread. Reserve some cream cheese to decorate carrots on top. Use orange and green food coloring and a pastry bag. Orange is for the carrot and green for the leaf.

 

What Others are Saying about Carrot Cake

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