Vanilla sugar is simply sugar which has been infused with the delicious flavour and scent of natural vanilla. I started making my own vanilla sugar when I was baking cakes and sweet pastries on a regular basis and I wanted a deeper flavour throughout my bakes.
It is very simple to make and gets better over time. All you need is a Tupperware style tub with a close fitting lid, some caster sugar and a vanilla pod. My tub holds around 500g of sugar and as you can see from the photograph, it now contains lots of ‘used’ vanilla pods.
When making this for the first time, put the sugar into your airtight tub of choice. Using a sharp knife or scissors, snip the vanilla pod in half. You can slice along one side of the pod and scrape out the seeds with a spoon, but I find this method also scrapes out some ‘threads’ from the inside of the pod which don’t break down in certain recipes such as custard, ice cream or light coloured sponges and frangipan. I therefore just use my fingers to squeeze the glorious gooey seeds out BEFORE slicing it in half lengthwise and adding the seeds and cut pods to the sugar. Put the lid on and give the tub a really vigorous shake before storing with your other dry ingredients in a cool dark cupboard. It’ll need at least a week to infuse, so shake it regularly then enjoy it in all your sweet bakes and treats.
As you continue to cook and bake and use the seeds from the pods, don’t throw the ’empty’ pods away…just add them to the tub and top up with plain sugar whenever you use it. I only add the empty pods to my sugar now, but you could add some fresh seeds if you’d like to give it a boost every now and again.
Vanilla enhances the flavours of many sweet ingredients and helps to ‘push forward’ these other flavours, so try replacing the regular sugar called for in your recipes with your homemade vanilla sugar and let me know how it goes.
Have you ever made flavoured sugar? Have you tried cinnamon, lavender or citrus flavours? What did you make with them?