I have done some terrible things in my life. Really, truly awful things. I wore chinos to my friends' wedding, for example, although I don't *think* they noticed. I have served people food that had been dropped on the floor, and I was once very rude to a house keeper who ignored the 'Do Not Disturb Sign' on my hotel room. Perce really told me off for that one.
Admittedly, none of this is like cheating on my husband or anything (except for the chinos. I really don't know why I did that, and I don't know how to make it up or move on from it. All I can say in my defence is that they weren't from GAP.), but still. I feel bad. And I am going to add more to the list: I recently sent a very flippant email to a PR girl who sent me a press release about Nielsen-Massey Extracts basically telling her that I didn't care if Camilla Parker-Bowles used their products, I didn't blog press releases and I didn't think my readers would care.
Camilla and Vanilla
Turns out my PR friend loved the story (must have missed my bad attitude) and offered to send me some samples. Result.
Now. I would never normally use vanilla extract in baking (even when I say to add it on the blog, I usually use the scraped out seeds of a real vanilla pod in my own kitchen, because I have a stash of plump, juicy ones I bought for almost nothing in Mauritius), and I have always considered the Nielsen-Massey brand to be expensive. How would it rate?
Well, I tried it out on this angel cake, since the key flavour note that I wanted was pure vanilla. And I have to say, I might be converted. It is so much easier just to add a few spoonsful of extract than mess about slitting and scraping out pods with sharp knives, and in my local supermarket, single vanilla beans cost upwards of £2. The Nielsen-Massey is only £5.99 for 100ml, so actually, all things considered, my cost-based aversion to extract doesn't stack up. I could make 10 of these cakes (which serve 16 people) with a single bottle. That's basically a quarter of the cost of beans.
The flavour is good; like my niece says, 'marshmallowy'. I would definitely use the extract again.
I have a few other recipes coming up that test out some other extracts that the company makes, so check back for those.
Boring disclosure: I am not paid for these opinions - I am just trying out the product. And trust me, I would tell you if I didn't like it.
Angel Food Cake
You will need:
16 egg whites (yes, really)
300g caster sugar
100g plain flour (for a really light cake, use half plain flour, half cornflour)
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 180°C. Have ready a large (10 inch) tube pan (ungreased).
- Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and all but 3 tbsp of the sugar until you have a stiff meringue. I use my stand mixer, as ever.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat well.
- Mix the flour with the remaining sugar and sprinkle over the meringue mixture. Fold in with a spatula or balloon whisk. Pour the mixture into the tube pan, smooth the top, and bake for 35 minutes until puffed and golden.
- Invert the tube pan to cool (I upturn mine onto a wine bottle). When fully cooled, use a long bladed knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and serve in generous slices with berries and whipped cream.