So one of those gorgeous jars is for flour, one for sugar and the third? Well, that’s where the homemade vanilla sugar comes into play. You see, on this side of the pond we don’t usually use vanilla extract for baking. We use vanilla sugar, sold in little packs much like baking powder. Back in the days when recipes called for margerine instead of butter, this used to be the chemical, disgustingly artificial vanillin sugar.
These days even the smallest grocery store carries the real, organic vanilla sugar that actually contains pieces of ground-up vanilla. Not that the big companies aren’t still trying to tell you that you should use that artificial crap.
But before I start a full-scale rant on why I hate artificial vanilla aroma (did you know it’s in baby formula to start an early addiction?! Someone please stop me here…), let’s focus on the good news. Because it’s extremely easy to make.
All you need is a vanilla pod and some sugar.
You can even use a vanilla bean (is it a bean? Or a pod?) that’s left over from a recipe where you used up all the seeds. Or one that you have cooked in milk for vanilla pudding. There still is enough flavor for your sugar left. But since I had quite a few left that I didn’t end up using in my Christmas baking, I took a whole one, split it and scraped out the seeds and added those to the sugar as well, rubbing them in with my fingers.
Yum. I love the smell of vanilla.
And in case you’re confused: we use a tablespoon or so in baking just like you use your vanilla extract, except that we add this to the dry ingredients, usually with the rest of the sugar. When baking American recipes, I usually just add it with whatever sugar the recipe calls for and decrease that amount by a tablespoon.
It also works nicely sprinkled on rice pudding. Or pancakes. Or a simple fruit salad. Once it’s empty, just refill the sugar, the vanilla can be reused a few times.