If I knew you were coming, I’d’ve baked: i just lost my vanilla bean virginity + recipes and pics

The other day I had a sudden craving for pound cake. Not the greasy processed Entenmann’s variety (which I did have on my table and got stale because I would pass by it and cringe) but the good ol’ fashioned buttery cakey wonderful kind.

So I began to look on the interwebz. I checked my usual suspects; The Pioneer Woman & Smitten Kitchen and couldn’t really find anything so I scoured the web and came up empty. So I tried one more time over at Smitten and wham bam! I found it. The recipe that would satisfy my craving and offer me the opportunity to use vanilla. Until I saw the vanilla beans. Fear froze me as my tastebuds began to tingle. Smitten Kitchen’s recipe called for vanilla beans. *gulp*

I bake .I do. In the fall. But never with something as precious as vanilla beans. Extract? Sure. I try to only buy the best because frankly, I love vanilla but beans? No way. No how.

But the pictures. They looked amazing. You know when you’re dreaming and you dream of something in your hand, like money or candy and then you wake up and you still think you have it in your hands? This is what that picture did to me.  By the way, I do not recommend trying to lick a flatscreen computer monitor.
So, ok. Vanilla beans. I trust Smitten’s recipes and look, she was also popping her own vanilla bean cherry with this recipe. If she could do it the best I could do was try, right?

Right.

So, I marched to the natural food market near my house and perused the shelves and found reasonably priced beans from a brand I trusted:

So I brought it home (As you can see) and today, I started on the recipe which was taken from Smitten Kitchen’s blog.

Vanilla Bean Pound Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound (2 cups) sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, used is fine
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature — (I left mine out for about an hour and ten minutes and they ended up looking pretty awesome)
1 pound (9 large) eggs
1 pound (4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a food processor, grind vanilla bean and sugar until vanilla is as finely chopped as it can get. Sift this mixture twice, making sure all larger pieces have been filtered out. Set aside.

2. In another bowl, add the flour and salt together

3. In a large bowl, cream your butter with a bit of the vanilla sugar until you’ve got a good base going.  word of advice, always cut up your butter. It’s easier on your blade or edge beaters and there’s less splash back.  Gradually add the rest of the vanilla sugar, not stopping until it is creamy and smooth.

4. With your KitchenAid whisk the eggs one at a time (or two at time. Don’t worry if your mixture looks curdled, it’s not), beating well after each addition. Gradually sift in the flour and salt mixture, beating constantly. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until well blended.

5. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Pour in the batter and ”spank” the bottom of the pan to distribute the batter evenly. Bake until a straw inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes, taking care not to overcook. Turn cake out onto a rack and let cool.

As a note: this cake is on the dry side. I love the flavor and the texture.It goes great with sauces, coulis, jams or caramel.  I prefer to use Lemon Curd. If you want a less dry cake, I recommend, leaving it in the oven for -10 minutes. As long as the cake is cooked, meaning you took the stick out and it was dry, then you’re good.

The first thing I did was pretend I was a pastry chef and cut one of the beans in half and scrap out some of the paste from one of them

Looks a bit like Vegemite doesn’t it?

Then I got serious.

Throwing the pods and the 2 cups of sugar in my little food processor (because the big one is missing), I began…processing. I think next time I’ll use my grinder but I’m still happy with the results. I mean, I pretty much wanted to sugar scrub myself to death with the end results.

But wait, there’s more!

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